By Jose M. Romero
The National League playoffs are under way and of course, Latino players have made and will make an impact on what happens on the diamond.
It’s St. Louis and Washington in one divisional series, and San Francisco against Cincinnati in the other.
It just isn’t professional baseball without the players from Latin America, and here are a few to watch:
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
OF Carlos Beltran – Hit 32 home runs with 97 RBI and a .269 average, helping make up for the loss of Albert Pujols to free agency. Has 11 homers in 24 career postseason games.
C Yadier Molina – Four-time All-Star can do it all: .315 batting average, 22 home runs, 76 RBI and stole 12 bases, also one of the best defensive catchers in the game.
P Jaime Garcia – Cardinals will need a strong outing from native of Mexico in Game 2. Went 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA this season.
P Edward Mujica – One of the important bullpen guys for the Cards who had a 1.03 ERA after arriving in trade with Marlins.
P Gio Gonzalez – The ace of the Nats went 21-8 this season and survived seven walks in Game of the NLDS Sunday. The two-time All-Star is the No. 1 man in the starting rotation.
2B Danny Espinosa – Orange County, Calif., native might be a little overwhelmed by being in the postseason, but his three strikeouts Sunday are in line with the 189 times he fanned in the regular season. Still, he played 160 games and hit 17 home runs with 56 RBI.
P Mike Gonzalez – A key left-handed reliever who pitched in the 2011 World Series for Texas last fall.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
3B Pablo Sandoval – The Kung Fu Panda left four men on base in Game 1 Saturday, but he’s a proven hitter whose bat is needed in this lineup.
OF Angel Pagan – A solid leadoff man and defensive center fielder who hit .288 for the Giants this season.
2B Marco Scutaro – One of those primarily responsible for the Giants being where they are. Batted .362 and had 44 RBI in 61 regular-season games with SF.
OF Gregor Blanco – Two hits in Game 1 loss to Cincinnati; a decent replacement for suspended Melky Cabrera this season.
IF Joaquin Arias – Part-time player who was one of the Giants’ most clutch performers on offense and defense this year.
P Santiago Casilla – Giants’ saves leader with 25 this season. Can be a little shaky at times but came into postseason with 2.84 ERA.
P Sergio Romo – The bearded Chicano from the borderlands (Mexico/USA) had 14 saves this season and is one of the best setup men in the game.
P Javier Lopez – The big lefty from Puerto Rico is a situational reliever who does his job well out of the bullpen.
P Johnny Cueto – 19-9, 2.78 ERA, one of four Reds starters to throw 200 or more innings this season. Maybe all that pitching caused him to hurt his back eight pitches into Game 1 of the NLDS, but he should recover.
P Aroldis Chapman – Hard-throwing Cuban closer who is an intimidator at 6-foot-4. Gave up a run Saturday but saved 38 games for the Reds in the regular season.