MLB commissioner Rob Manfred defends playoff format

League: MLB

Posted on: 13 Oct, 2023 at 06:32 PM

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

No plans are in place for Major League Baseball to review the playoff format giving division champions a break during the wild-card round.

Three teams that finished the regular season with 100-plus wins and rested during the opening round were bounced in the division series. The Braves (104 wins), Dodgers (100 wins) and Orioles (101 wins) are all gone as the League Championship Series get underway on Sunday.

New rules established in 2022 gave the teams with the top two records in each league a first-round bye.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said five days off, longer than the All-Star Break, is too much rest before the postseason begins.

"Whether that affected us this series or not, I'm not going to speculate. But it's a long time off. That's the bottom line," Hyde said.

Braves ace right-hander Spencer Strider, who set the Atlanta franchise record for strikeouts in the regular season, said Thursday that blaming scheduling is a scapegoat.

"The people trying to use the playoff format to make an excuse for the results they don't like are not confronting the real issue," Strider said after Atlanta was eliminated by the playoffs by the Phillies in four games. "You're in control of your focus, your competitiveness, your energy. If having five days means you can't make the adjustment, you have nobody to blame but yourself."

Tampa Bay finished second in the AL East to the Orioles and won 99 games but lost two games at home to the Texas Rangers in the best-of-three wild-card series.

Commissioner Rob Manfred denied that the time to review the format, established in 2021, has arrived. Last year, the Braves and Dodgers were also eliminated in the division series.

"It's one of those things where we would have a conversation about it if we wanted to do something," he said. "But I think the most important point is the first one: It's Year 2. I think we need to give it a little time."

The Dodgers hit .177 in the three-game sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a combined one hit between MVP candidates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw, rocked in the first game of the series during which he hit the showers before the second inning, said timing issues for offensive players was a clear byproduct of the big break during the wild-card round.

"We get a week off, and we clearly weren't able to get hot again," Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy said. "I don't know if it's five days off, or if it's not. All I know is, we didn't get big hits in big situations, and that's really all it boils down to."

Manfred said a closer look indicates the teams that are no longer playing had other hurdles beyond the schedule.

"I'm sort of the view you need to give something a chance to work out. I know some of the higher-seeded teams didn't win," Manfred said. "I think if you think about where some of those teams were, there are other explanations than a five-day layoff. But I think we'll reevaluate in the offseason like we always do and think about if we have the format right."

--Field Level Media