The introduction of the one game Wild Card game has been something that I have enjoyed and appreciated from the moment it was announced. I know there are people who don’t like it because a single game doesn’t always put the ‘best’ team into the division series. My thought is that if a team didn’t win their division, having to play a single winner take all game is a great thing. It both gives them a chance to move on, while also penalizing them for not winning their division.
Enough of my thoughts on the Wild Card set up and time to focus on the two games themselves.
Toronto Blue Jays vs Baltimore Orioles
During the regular season Toronto won the series 10-9. So essentially they were pretty much even and no clear leader can be seen there. For this game you aren’t going to see two aces toe the rubber like you will in the NL Wild Card. Chris Tillman and Marcus Stroman are solid starters, and have had games that dazzle in their careers. Stroman might be the better starter but in all honestly this game isn’t going to be won by the starters. It can be lost by them if they give up a lot of runs early but that will be the big thing.
The winning team is going to need to score more than 2 or 3 runs to win this one. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see both teams score at least 5 runs. 7-5 is a score that seems reasonable, and the reason for this is because both teams have power. The Blue Jays will be sending up Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion. The Orioles will counter with some power of there own in Mark Trumbo, Manny Machado, Pedro Alveraz, and Chris Davis.
I see the Blue Jays having a bit better contact and average in their lineup overall, but once again in a one game playoff it only takes a couple big hits to win a game. I picked the Blue Jays to win in my predictions and honestly that pick is because I trust their hitters more than I trust the Orioles hitters on a regular basis.
San Francisco Giants vs New York Mets
This game is a perfect example of what a Wild Card matchup can and should be. Madison Bumgarner will face off against Noah Syndergaard in what could and should be an amazing pitching matchup. Both pitchers can go out and dominate a team and Bumgarner has shown in his history he can step it up for the playoffs. Oh and incase anyone forgets he can hit the ball pretty well to so don’t overlook that.
The offenses are going to be up for a challenge. The Giants will send out Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Four very solid players who can cause damage but lets be honest, the Giants are not a powerhouse offense. They get timely hits and lean heavily on their pitchers.
The Mets will send out Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jay Bruce. There is a lot more power in the Mets lineup. The Mets had 5th in all of MLB with 218 homeruns. The Giants were 28th with 130. However, despite the lack of power the Giants outscored the Mets this season 715 runs to 671 runs.
Obviously the Giants know how to win or they wouldn’t be in the Wild Card game and 3 time World Series champion over the past 6 years. However, I went with the Mets to win this game because baseball history doesn’t mean a thing once you step on the field. In a one game playoff the ability to hit a big homerun can be important. A single/walk and one bad pitch can put two runs on the board in a hurry.
I’m excited for playoff baseball and the Wild Card is a great way to get the playoffs running.