The finals in the MLB The Show Players League are set. After a scorching-hot, undefeated start to the season from Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo ended in a surprise first-round playoff defeat, Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Blake Snell and Chicago White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito will face off in the championship series.
The games are simulated, but Major League Baseball will be awarding a physical trophy to the winner of the best-of-five series that airs Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN App.
Here's your scouting report on the finalists:
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Regular-season record: 24-5
Postseason record: 4-1
Overall seed: No. 1
What you need to know: It shouldn't surprise anyone that Snell is in the finals. He is one of the most active athletes on Twitch and highly engaged in the website community around The Show. Snell opened the season with a 2-2 record, including an 11-2 thrashing at the hands of Gallo, but went on to win 19 of his next 21 games to lock down the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. Snell scored the most runs in the league with 145 and allowed just 54, with his plus-91 run differential also the best in the league.
Best moment of the season: While playing Niko Goodrum of the Detroit Tigers, Snell told the story of the time Miguel Cabrera hit a grand slam off of him on the same day Cabrera had signed a jersey for Snell -- and the jersey was hanging dead center in his locker when he got pulled from the game:
Best moment of the postseason:
"It's gettin' rowdy." 😂 pic.twitter.com/RiAdg6oujv— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 2, 2020
Snell kept his cool as he eliminated Gavin Lux from the postseason.
Signature move: When Snell streams, he often uses the phrase "I need it so bad" in a variety of contexts, often when he wants to be doing better. It has turned into a rally cry on his Twitter account throughout the Players League.
I need it so badddd. pic.twitter.com/937Crx9KmH— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 1, 2020
Team: Chicago White Sox
Regular-season record: 19-10
Postseason record: 4-2
Overall seed: No. 6
What you need to know: Giolito struggled a bit out of the gate but then started to string together a number of impressive wins, including handing Gallo his second loss of the season and topping Fernando Tatis Jr., Lux, Bo Bichette and Dwight Smith Jr. The White Sox hurler eked out a win against Amir Garrett on the final day of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs and rode a wave of momentum all the way into the finals.
Best moment of the season: Giolito and his wife, Ariana, a veterinary student at UC Davis, are fostering kittens through the Orphan Kitten Project in the same room as his Twitch streaming setup. Giolito says he can get extremely competitive while playing video games but that he's tempered his excitement so he doesn't scare the cats. One night, Giolito hit a go-ahead grand slam against Tatis but needed to stay quiet because of his feline company.
Lucas Giolito hitting a go-ahead grand slam against Fernando Tatis Jr. and celebrating with a "I can't be screaming, I got the cat back there" (he's fostering a cat) is extremely on brand— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) April 24, 2020
(also @jasonbenetti on the call)https://t.co/hMKrcY5LgV pic.twitter.com/oojwrrqkQd
Best moment of the postseason:
Signature move: This is a less of a signature move, but an explanation from Giolito about how he is constantly conscious of the cats while he is livestreaming and how that's shaped his Players League style:
"I do have the cat and the kittens in the same room as me, so I've really had to taper my reactions," Giolito said. "I'm a guy that tends to get a little bit heated over video games when funky things happen, and you know that happens a lot in The Show. There's been a few instances where I wanted to slam the desk or throw my controller or scream, but I can't do that because I'll terrify the five creatures behind me."
Snell pulls out the championship and stakes his claim as baseball's best player of The Show.