Time to play a little 'what if' and look into the crystal ball and forecast how certain pitchers could impact MLB picks if their teams were to enter the postseason in early October.
As baseball handicappers we know what to expect from certain pitchers who make the postseason like Madison Bumgarner, but which hurlers who are more unassuming will end up as large contributors and confound the MLB odds set by sportsbooks like 5Dimes and stun the baseball world.
Here is a look at some of the hurlers who shine once the playoffs begin.
American League Pitchers To Watch For
Presently, the only team that we can certain to make the postseason out of the junior circuit is the defending champion Kansas City Royals. With such a great bullpen, most of the Royals starters just have to keep them in the game and the offense does the rest. One starter who could have a positive impact is Yordano Ventura. Expected to be the Kansas City ace, Ventura failed, but he has time to find himself and the talent is in place for him to shine.
Though he leads the New York Yankees in wins, Nathan Eovaldi is still the forgotten man in the rotation. With his big fastball and much improved secondary pitches, he could steal games on the road for New York.
Marco Estrada's career has been primarily as a fifth starter, but this year he has defied the MLB odds and become a big part of the Toronto starting staff, with the lowest ERA and WHIP of his career. Backed with the Blue Jays offense, he's thrown with great confidence all year.
If Houston wins the AL West, Colin McHugh will the Astros Game 3 starter in the first round of their playoffs and if his curve and slider are working, he can win games for Houston.
Take your pick, either Yovani Gallardo or Colby Lewis are proven veterans and have the moxie to give Texas six strong innings in October and be useful for MLB picks if the Rangers reach that point.
National League Pitchers To Watch For
St. Louis and Pittsburgh are presumed to reach the playoffs and be among the four teams left when the 7-game series commence. Who will start after Michael Wacha is likely a matchup issue or who is pitching best in the first part of October, but John Lackey could be a difference-maker. Since his first year in the majors in 2002, where he was a contributor to the Los Angeles Angels' World Series championship, Lackey has always been a bulldog and he frequently comes up in big games.
At this time it is not a certainty that A.J. Burnett is coming back, but if the rest helped heal him and he pitches like he did the first three months of the season, Pittsburgh's odds to be champions are worth further consideration at places like WagerWeb.
Though Noah Snydergaard arrived with great fanfare, the New York Mets have several top quality young pitchers and as the season wore on, he was less talked about. With a monster fastball and potentially electric secondary pitches, he could help the Mets advance in the postseason if they hold off Washington.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have their dynamic duo, but they are not going anywhere unless Brett Anderson and or Alex Wood are factors. If not the Dodgers, then San Francisco will make it out west. Despite Bumgarner's brilliance, an important reason why the Giants were even in the World Series last year was Jake Peavy coming up big and he could be called on again.
Finally, the Chicago Cubs appear poised to make the postseason and after Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel could well be a determining factor if the Cubs were to play for their first NL crown since 2003.