2020 MLB playoffs: One X-factor for each NL team

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 30: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers, right celebrates a two-run homerun with Max Muncy #13 against the Texas Rangers in the third inning at Globe Life Field on August 30, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. The day honoring Jackie Robinson, traditionally held on April 15, was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 30: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers, right celebrates a two-run homerun with Max Muncy #13 against the Texas Rangers in the third inning at Globe Life Field on August 30, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. The day honoring Jackie Robinson, traditionally held on April 15, was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs- 1B Kris Bryant

It’s been a rough year for Kris Bryant. It’s been a rough year overall for the Chicago Cubs offense, but here they are. Now, someone needs to step up and produce in the postseason, if Chicago wants to make sure they aren’t bounced in the first round.

Bryant enters the MLB playoffs with a .206/.293/.351 slash line with just four home runs. Just last year, Bryant hit 31 home runs with a .282 average and 135 wRC+. This year, Bryant posted a wRC+ of 76, far below his career-low of 125.

Fortunately for Chicago, Bryant appears to be healthy again and he ended the year on a high note, hitting a home run in each of the final two games of the season and driving in six runs.

He recently told reporters that he “doesn’t give a ****” about his critics who go after his poor play this season. If he channels that attitude into his playoff at-bats, I wouldn’t want to be the opposing pitcher.

San Diego Padres- RHP Chris Paddack

The Padres have become the darlings of the 2020 MLB season with their electric play on the field and roster full of blossoming MLB superstars. Fernando Tatis Jr.and Manny Machado are MVP candidates, Jake Cronenworth is the likely Rookie of the Year, Eric Hosmer discovered what launch angle is, and Wil Myers just needed less Andy Green in his life to unlock another level.

San Diego’s lineup is deep and unbeatable when they are clicking, but will the pitching hold up?

Mike Clevinger may be back after the Wild Card round, but he hasn’t been healthy for a few weeks now, and Dinelson Lamet left his last start of the season early with discomfort but isn’t expected to miss any time. The Padres will need their Sheriff to step up in a major way if they want their magical 2020 run to continue.

Chris Paddack hasn’t been the same pitcher we saw his rookie season and opponents are feasting on his fastball this year. Overall, Paddack is 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA, a 2.14 HR/9 IP rate, and a .260 average against. If the rotation was fully healthy, Paddack wouldn’t be in the playoff rotation, but now the Padres need 2019 Paddack to emerge and give them a few quality outings as “Slam Diego” attempts to power their way to a World Series title.