Eight Curve alumni prepare for expanded 2020 MLB Postseason

By Garett Mansfield

We made it. The 60-game Major League Baseball season has been completed and there are playoff games set to begin this evening.

A total of 53 former Curve players played at least one Major League game in 2020, including nine alums that played their first MLB contests.

The MLB playoffs expanded to eight teams per league for this season and eight will have the opportunity to add to the list of players to wear a Curve uniform and win a World Series. Last year, Hunter Strickland was part of the Washington Nationals’ memorable run to win it all for his second title run.

Perhaps the most surprising is Starling Marte and the Miami Marlins. Marte was flipped by the Diamondbacks, who acquired the outfielder from Pittsburgh in January, to the Marlins at the trade deadline. The Marlins, despite COVID-19 issues early in the season, are still rolling after a second place finish in the National League East, finishing three games better than the Phillies. Marte is in the playoffs for the fourth time and first time since Pittsburgh’s three-year run from 2013-15. The Marlins also employ former Pirate Corey Dickerson and a pair of injured former Curve players, Harold Ramirez and Francisco Cervelli.

Staying in Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays were the best team in the American League with a trio of former Curve: Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Charlie Morton. Glasnow and Meadows were once top Pirates prospects and Morton appeared in MLB rehab outings with the Curve in parts of the 2013-15 seasons. Last year was the first playoff exposure for both Meadows and Glasnow after breakout seasons. Morton reaches the playoffs for the fifth time in his career and fourth season in a row, which included the 2017 World Series championship with the Astros.

Four other American League clubs have one Curve alum apiece.

Gerrit Cole will be the Yankees’ Game 1 starter at Cleveland on Tuesday. The high-dollar free agent acquisition turned in a sub-3.00 ERA for the third straight season, all of which have aided playoff berths for his clubs and the last two in Houston. Cole’s seven wins were second-most in the AL and he finished third in the league with 94 strikeouts in just 73 innings.

On the flip side of the Cleveland-New York Wild Card Series is Jordan Luplow with the Indians. Luplow was not on Cleveland’s playoff roster a year ago despite a .276 average and 15 homers during his first season with the organization. This year, injuries derailed most of his first month and he finished with a .192 average. However, he hit at a .313 pace over the last month of the campaign with a critical walk-off homer on September 23 that ultimately helped Cleveland climb over Chicago in playoff seeding.

Another Curve to playoff first-timer is with the Buffalo/Toronto Blue Jays. Reese McGuire serves as the club’s backup catcher behind Danny Jansen. McGuire spent most of the 2016 season with the Curve before he was traded to Toronto with Harold Ramirez and Francisco Liriano for Drew Hutchison.

Robbie Grossman and the Oakland A’s are playoff-bound for the second straight year, including the third time in Grossman’s career. The A’s dropped the Wild Card Game to Tampa Bay last year despite a strong showing from Grossman (2-for-4). Both games of the outfielder’s playoff career have been Wild Card Games. Aside from last year, his other was the 2017 AL Wild Card as a member of the Twins, who lost to the Yankees in the winner-take-all contest. The Athletics ran away with the AL West this season and Grossman led the club in OPS (.826). Grossman played for the Curve in 2012 before he was traded to Houston in a deal that brought Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh.

If you haven’t decided who to root for this postseason, we hope this helps you! May the games begin!

This contribution to the Around the Curve Blog is presented by Microtel. Plan your stay at one of Altoona’s three Lion Country Lodging locations. Click here to make a reservation today.

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