7:30 PM ET
AP Photo/Hakim Wright

The regular season is over, and the MLB playoffs are about to start, and this year's playoffs could be epic.

In addition to a new format that features 12 teams and a three-game wild-card round that is guaranteed to bring drama to October from the very beginning, there are so many storylines to follow throughout that it has a chance to be an all-time great month of baseball.

The new 12-team format will feature 12 themes that will dominate the sport.

You can view the playoffs schedule.

This is the first thing. The format of the playoffs is the best.

Baseball nailed it. The 12-team arrangement is an improvement over 10 teams in the past and there are those who will always prefer the old setup of two pennants or four division winners. The do-or-die wild-card game never turned into the must-see drama that the sports world would have you believe.

The three-game series are fun. They feel more like a sport than a game.

The format still gives the best teams a first-round bye and the chance to rest a pitching staff. Maybe next year, when the start of the season won't be delayed by a labor dispute, the seven-game division series will be better than the five-game one.

There are two Nobody is sure what to think of the World Series chances of the super team.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won more games than any other team in the history of the National League, with a total of 112. If they win it all, they will join the Yankees as one of the greatest teams of all time; if they don't win it all, they'll be left behind.

The Dodgers have won at least 104 games in four of the last five years, but only one World Series title. Playoff games were played in front of empty stadiums or neutral sites in the shortened 2020 season. A friend of mine who is a Dodgers fan told me that it is one-third of a title. The Dodgers were able to do things they wouldn't have been able to do with a 26 man roster due to the fact that they were allowed to play with 28 man rosters.

There is a lot of pressure on the Dodgers this October. They are playing for two titles, one in 2020 and another in 2022. Two titles would make the Dodgers one of the greatest teams of all time, even if manager Dave Roberts doesn't consider them a dynasty.

There are three. There's a chance of a repeat.

The Atlanta Braves won 101 games and their fifth consecutive division title after losing Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers. Since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998 to 2000 the only team to repeat as World Series champ was the Braves.

The Braves could be on their way to a dynasty here. After a 1012 game deficit to the division title, they called up Michael Harris II and moved Spencer Strider to the rotation. They went 78-34 from June 1 to the end of the season. They still have Max Fried, Kyle Wright, and a lineup that led the NL in home runs, even though they won't have Strider in the playoffs.

There are four. The Houston Astros are a dynasty.

There are a lot of good teams at the top of the playoffs. The Dodgers, Astros, Braves, and Mets have all won 100 games. There's no guarantee that we'll see two teams in the World Series, but if we do, there's a chance we'll see a classic series. The last time a team won 100 games in the World Series was in 2017: the Astros beat the Dodgers. You have to go back to 1970 to have two teams in the World Series with 100 wins.

There will be eight teams playing this weekend. Four will make it to the division series. You can watch the wild-card series on ABC.

Friday's schedule is listed.

TB-CLE: 12 p.m. ET on ESPN

PHI-STL: 2 p.m. ET on ABC

SEA-TOR: 4 p.m. ET on ESPN

SD-NYM: 8 p.m. on ESPN

The Astros have won at least 100 games in four of the last five years. If they win the World Series, they might go down as the greatest franchise of all time. There is an added bonus. After 25 years of managing in the big leagues and 12 trips to the playoffs, manager Dusty Baker is hoping to finally win a game.

The Astros appear on a collision course to face the Yankees in the American League Championship Series for the third time in the last two years. Cashman cried that the only thing that had stopped the Yankees in previous seasons from reaching the World Series was "something that was so illegal and horrific" during the war of words with Crane. It would be an epic battle if the Yankees and Astros were to play in the ALCS.

There are five. Baseball in New York is called B-A-C-K.

This is the 13th season since the Yankees last appeared in a World Series, an unacceptable length of time for baseball's richest and most historically successful franchise with 27 titles. George Steinbrenner's reign of terror lasted from 1982 to 1995 and the Yankees are close to their last World Series appearance.

The Mets won 100 games for just the fourth time in franchise history and first time since 1988, but they enter the playoffs with a bitter taste of defeat after losing the last series to the Braves. The Mets will need Jacob deGrom to find his rhythm after he allowed 14 runs and six home runs in his final four starts of the season. Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, and the rest of the team are not just two men. It has been 36 years since the 1986 team won it all for the Mets, who have had their moments since that run of success.

There are six. Did you think we didn't pay attention to the man?

Even though both teams have made New York baseball interesting, nobody has been more at the center of that than the man who just finished up a 62- home run season.

There's nothing else like the moment a shutdownReliever's music begins with the game on the line.

Timmy Trumpet, The Wire, and The Wrestler are mentioned.

By that, I mean a historic regular season, a great postseason and a World Series title, and Judge is trying to finish it off. Ted Williams was born in 1941. They didn't win the title. Is Carl Yastrzemski alive today? Are you referring to BobGibson in 1968? He had a record 17 strikeouts in the World Series but lost Game 7. Is there a picture of Dwight Gooden in 1985. The Mets didn't make the playoffs. Is there a picture of PedroMartinez in 1999? They lost in the ALCS. Barry Bonds was born in 2001. The Giants missed out on the playoffs. Did Bonds play in 2002? The Giants lost in the Fall Classic. Mookie Betts is in a new year. Betts had a lackluster postseason, but he still had a good season.

There are seven. The GOAT can go out on top.

Albert Pujols made home run history this year. Every player would love to go out on top or with a dogpile. Not a single one of them do. Pujols and Molina have a chance to do that, as well as Adam Wainwright, who might retire as well.

When Albert Pujols returned after a 10-year exile, the three legends of the club came back together, and they will play a big part in what happens to the club in October. As will Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, two of the greatest players of their generation who will likely finish 1-2 in the voting for the NL's Most Valuable Player award, and who both seek their first trip to the World Series.

There are eight. The playoffs have been a long time since the last one.

There are two teams about to get their first taste of the playoffs in a long, long time, while theCardinals have lots of October experience. Seattle and Philadelphia will play each other in the first round of the playoffs, despite the fact that both teams will be playing away from home.

When Cal Raleigh hit his pinch-hit walk-off home run, the team celebrated like they had won the world series. Is it possible that you can't blame them? It takes a long time between playoff appearances. They had a lot of terrible teams along the way, but also a few near misses, including 93 wins in 2002 and 2003 and 88 wins in 2007, one win short in 2014). You can bet the watch party at T-Mobile Park will have a playoff-like atmosphere if they don't beat the BlueJays.

At the end of the season, Rodriguez came back from his back problem and hit a home run. The good news is that Sam Haggerty and Jesse Winker are on the injured list. Luis Castillo looks like a legit ace when he's on, as evidenced by the fact that he allowed one run or less in five of his six starts this season. The Mariners are a good example of a good underestimation.

All of our coverage from the historic season can be found here.

It was the night he hit 60.

All eyes are on Judge.

He could get a free agency worth $300 million.

All-time, where this season is ranked.

It was the first time in six years that the Phils had not made the playoffs. They have a power hitter in Kyle Schwarber who led the NL in home runs. The trio of Nola, Wheeler and Suarez have a good record. I wouldn't bet on them in the NL, but there are similarities to the Nationals who went from the wild card to World Series champ.

There are nine. We don't discuss the World Series curses enough.

The Clevelandguardians are in the World Series. The only team never to play in a World Series is the SeattleMariners, who are attempting to win their first one.

It has been 74 years since the Cleveland team won the World Series, which is longer than the time it took the Boston team to win it. Winning it all in the first season would be great. They could make a movie out of that.

  • They lost the World Series to the Braves, but they were the best team in baseball.

  • There was a ninth-inning lead in the World Series and it was lost in overtime.

  • The ALCS was lost to the Red Socks after they were up 3-1.

  • They lost Game 7 of the World Series for the second year in a row.

  • They lost the division series after being up 2-0.

The team that's been around since 1969 hasn't won anything. The Padres made it to the World Series in 1984 and 1998 but have never made it back.

These aren't your brother's Padres, though. If the Padres can stay around long enough for national fans to get to know their stars, they will be very popular in the playoffs. They tried to dethrone the Dodgers but fell short. Anything can happen in the playoffs. Especially with Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Juan Soto, as well as a rejuvenatedBlake Snell. The winner of the Mets-Padres wild-card series will face the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs.

There are ten. There are redemption stories.

Here, let's see. After missing the next two years with Tommy John surgery, Verlander came back and went 18-4 with a 1.75 earned run average while leading the American League in wins. With a big October and another World Series title for the Astros, his legacy becomes that of an inner-circle Hall of Famer. The dynamic duo of deGrom and Scherzer could carry the Mets to their first title in 30 years. And then of course, there is the ace pitcher,ClaytonKersee. He got his ring a couple of years ago but he hasn't won a ring in a full season with a normal playoffs. What will he do?

There is a new date for the 11th. Some young stars were introduced in October.

This is the best rookies since 2001 and most of them will be playing in the playoffs. Rodriguez is the leader of the Mariners, Harris is the leader of the Braves.

The rookies will remind us how bright the future of baseball is, but it's not the only one.

While we often think of the Rays as a parade of bullpen stars, they also have two budding young superstars in Wander Franco andShane McClanahan who could power another small-market success story this season. The BlueJays are a team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs. The question we'll all be waiting to see answered is how these young stars will handle the bright lights of October or November.

It could take some time in November to finish it.

Game 7 of the World Series would be played on Nov. 5, the most recent date in MLB history.

If every series goes the distance, we'll get 53 postseason games with all of these incredible storylines fueling the possibility that any given night can become a must- see moment for baseball fans. We need great games in order to have a good playoffs.

1986 is still the gold standard for the playoffs. There were only 20 playoff games that October, including the seven-game ALCS between the Red and Angels and the six-game NLCS between the Mets and Astros. Five of the 20 games were extended. The eight that were decided were by a single run. Game 5 of the ALCS, Game 3 of the NLCS, and Game 6 and 7 of the World Series are all classics.

There is a stage. The Dodgers will beat the Astros. Game 7 of the World Series will be between Kershaw and Verlander, thanks a lot.