Here we are once again on the outside looking in at the postseason. It’s been a rough season for Detroit Tigers fans, but as baseball fans, now we get to enjoy postseason baseball without the joy and/or pain of having a stake in the matter. The new format is also going to play out pretty well based on the schedule. The elimination of the one-game Wild Card round in favor of a best 2-of-3 format running Friday through Sunday is going to make for a really fun weekend, though I’ll forever hate that MLB inevitably buries two games in the middle of the day on Friday when no one is home to watch.
Personally, I’ve never minded the single elimination style wild card round. The games themselves have always been compelling, though a series is a little more likely to produce the better team as the winner. A three-game series allows things to play out a little more, while still retaining the same level of must-win intensity. The fact that they’ll play three days straight in one city keeps this from delaying the start of the divisional round, and gives a major advantage to the home team, as it should be. The format also conveys another edge to the top two teams in each league, who get a few days off while the other four teams are going at it, without having to wait so long that they come in flat.
In the American League, the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees hold the top two records, while in the National League it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers and the defending champion Atlanta Braves who’ll be waiting to see who their opponent is next week in the divisional series.
All of these matchups are pretty interesting. The Rays against the surprising Guardians is a good matchup, with the winner taking on the Yankees. The Mariners against the Blue Jays will feature a lot of elite young talent, and the winner there will go up against the Astros. Phillies against the Cardinals feels like the most decided mismatch, but in a three game set anything can happen. The winner there will face the Braves. Still, the Pujols-Yadi-Carpenter storyline is compelling for many.
Finally, after winning 101 games and leading the NL East the whole season, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and the Mets were overtaken by the Braves right at the end, and now have to scramble for their lives against a tough Padres squad featuring Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Yu Darvish, and Blake Snell after AJ Preller made major deadline moves to try and shake things up in the wake of Fernando Tatis Jr.’s PED suspension. Whoever wins will go up against the juggernaut that is the Dodgers. That’s personally the series I’m most interested in though I’m generally rooting for the winner of the Mariners-Blue Jays series.
However this plays out, it should be a fun, action-packed weekend of playoff baseball. We’ll take a crack at guessing the outcome below, so feel free to make your picks in the comments. The complete schedule can be found here.
Wild Card Round Friday
Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Guardians - 12:07 p.m. EDT
Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals - 2:07 p.m. EDT
San Diego Padres at New York Mets - 8:07 p.m. EDT
Wild Card Series: Rays over Guardians, Cardinals over Phillies, Blue Jays over Mariners, Mets over Padres
Division Series: Rays over Yankees, Astros over Blue Jays, Atlanta over Cardinals, Dodgers over Mets
LCS: Astros over Rays, Dodgers over Atlanta
WS: Dodgers over Astros
Wild Cards: Rays over Guardians, Cardinals over Phillies, Mariners over Blue Jays, Mets over Padres
Divisions: Yankees over Rays, Astros over Mariners, Braves over Cardinals, Dodgers over Mets
Leagues: Astros over Yankees, Dodgers over Braves
World Series: Dodgers over Astros
Wild Card: Rays, Phillies, Mariners, Mets
Divisions: Yankees, Astros, Braves, Mets
Leagues: Yankees, Mets
World Series: Mets over Yankees in a New York slugfest
Wild card: Guardians, Blue Jays, Mets, Cardinals
Divisional: Guardians, Astros, Cardinals, Dodgers
League: Guardians, Dodgers
World Series: Guardians
I’m all-in on the chaos of Cleveland. I’m probably corrupted since I live there, but the Guardians winning the World Series would mean I get to have a really fun few nights.
Patrick O’ Kennedy
WC: Guardians over Rays, Padres over Mets, Cardinals over Phillies, Toronto over Seattle
DS: Yankees over Guardians, Astros over Blue Jays, Astros over Yankees
LS: Dodgers over Padres, Braves over Cardinals, Dodgers over Braves
WS: Dodgers over Astros
I think that three game home advantage is tough to overcome, especially if you don’t take Gm 1. So in the Wild Card round I’ll say
Guardians over Rays, Mariners over Blue Jays, Cardinals over Phillies, Mets over Padres
ALDS: Yankees over Guardians, Astros over Mariners
NLDS: Dodgers over Cardinals, Braves over Mets
ALCS: Astros over Yankees
NLCS: Braves over Dodgers
WS: Braves over Astros
No predictions. Just give me the Rays until the Rays are out, then Mariners ftw please.