Major League Baseball Northside

MLB Tournament: Kyle Schwarber Walk-Off Propels Cubs Past Rockies in 11

Kyle Schwarber's 11th inning walk-off downs the Rockies in the opening round of our virtual MLB Tournament.

On Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan published a story regarding his latest information pertaining to the restart of the 2020 Major League Baseball season. One of the ideas that appeared in the story was a league-wide tournament, one that Passan opined could look a lot like the FIFA World Cup.

“Give us 60 days,” one official said, “and we could run an amazing tournament.”

MLB source via Jeff Passan of ESPN

To Passan’s credit, it’s an entertaining idea, but I don’t see what purpose the regular season would have served under his premise, which you can read more about here.

So I went a different route and created a league-wide tournament, with seeding based on regular season performance in 2020, rewarding teams for their play during what in all likelihood will be close to a 100 game season.

For the purpose of this exercise, I used Fangraphs’ 2020 projections to determine the seeding for the opening round. Before we go any further, take a look at the bracket below.

2020 MLB Tournament Bracket by Patrick Flowers

As you can see, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros earned first-round byes as a reward for having the best (hypothetical) record during the 2020 season. In addition to having the first round off, both are guaranteed a second-round meeting with a team on the bottom half of the league at home, or as the “home team” depending on whether this season ends up being played at a combination of neutral sites, or at each team’s respective ballpark.

The remaining teams were seeded out 3-30, based on regular season records.

Round 1 is single elimination, before teams get into a best-of-three series in the second round and quarter-finals. The semi-finals are a best-of-five, and the World Series is your traditional best-of-seven format.

This format would call for the eventual champion to play a maximum of 19 games from start to finish (18 if the eventual champion ends up being one of the top two seeds who earned a bye into the second round). The traditional MLB playoff format calls for the eventual champion playing a maximum possible 20 games if they originate in the Wild Card round, and 19 otherwise, making this format one that can be played in roughly the same time-frame as the current traditional MLB Postseason format.

Here’s how home field advantage (regardless of venue) would work throughout;

Round 1 – higher seed designated the home team.

Round 2 – higher seed designated the home team for G1, G3.

Quarter-finals – higher seed designated the home team for G1, G3.

Semi-finals – higher seed designated the home team for G1, G2, G5.

World Series – higher seed designated the home team for G1, G2, G6, G7.

In nearly every scenario that arises, the universal DH rule has been a part of it, so we’ll be using that for this tournament. Those National League teams are really gonna be at a disadvantage now, what will they do with those free outs they’re used to giving away?

Round 1 Recap

In a rematch of the 2018 Wild Card game, in which the Rockies outlasted the Cubs and knocked them out of the playoffs, Anthony Rizzo got the Cubs on the board early with a solo shot against Rockies’ starter, Jon Gray.

After the Rockies scored a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead on a Nolan Arenado two-run homer, the Cubs scored two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead, 3-2 at that point.

In the top of the seventh Trevor Story helped the Rockies strike again, this time with a three-run homer to centerfield, putting Colorado back on top 5-3 heading into the home half of the seventh. An RBI single by Tony Wolters stretched the Rockies lead to three in the top of the eighth inning, making it 6-3 Colorado.

The Cubs weren’t going away though, pulling to within one with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and after Colorado added one more in the ninth to make it 7-5, Anthony Rizzo hit his second home run of the game to make it 7-6. An eventual bases-loaded walk by Ian Happ tied the game at seven-a-piece, and sent this one into extra innings.

After a leadoff walk by catcher Willson Contreras to open the bottom of the 11th, Kyle Schwarber pushed the Cubs into the second round with a walk-off two-run homer in the next at-bat, securing a 9-7 victory for the Cubs in 11.

Final: (11) Cubs 9, (22) Rockies 7 (F/11)

W: Alec Mills – 2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 K

L: Yency Almonte – 1.0 IP, 2 R, 1 H (walk-off two-run HR by Schwarber B11)

Offensive Notables: Rizzo: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, Contreras: 2-4, 2B, 3 R, Schwarber: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI.

Complete Round 1 Results

  • (16) Brewers 2, (17) White Sox 4
  • (9) Indians 3, (24) Pirates 2
  • (8) Athletics 3, (25) Royals 4 (F/11)
  • (5) Twins 5, (28) Tigers 4 (F/10)
  • (12) Red Sox 7, (21) Rangers 6 (F/11)
  • (13) Padres 6, (20) Diamondbacks 4
  • (4) Rays 7, (29) Mariners 2
  • (3) Yankees 8, (30) Orioles 1
  • (14) Reds 0, (19) Phillies 3
  • (11) Cubs 9, (22) Rockies 7 (F/11)
  • (6) Nationals 3, (27) Marlins 0
  • (7) Braves 3, (26) Giants 0
  • (10) Mets 4, (23) Blue Jays 2
  • (15) Angels 2, (18) Cardinals 4

Here’s a look at the tournament bracket heading into the second round:


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