The greatest team of the past half-century was nearly taken down in the 1998 playoffs because of a late-season problem. The New York Yankees won 114 games in the regular season, dominated Texas in the division series and rolled into the American League Championship Series as heavy favorites. They had a deep and talented team.
But 20-game winner David Cone, an anchor all summer, was exhausted by season's end, even after he skipped bullpen sessions in the second half. When Andy Pettitte lost Game 2 to the Indians and Cleveland blasted Cone in Game 3, a team that had played near-perfect baseball for most of six months was in big trouble. Orlando Hernandez started Game 4, and with the use of a changeup -- a pitch he had refined just a few weeks before -- he struck out Jim Thome in a big spot. From there, the Yankees remained on course, winning out the rest of the postseason and closing the year with 125 wins.
Every team has to work around gaps with ever-evolving performers. Here are the potential pitfalls for the current cast of contenders.