Monday, October 3, 2016

A Day Off, then MLB Wild Cards

One brief day off, then the MLB playoffs get started.
I was hoping that Monday wouldn't be a day off. We might have had a Tigers-Indians game today, if Detroit had managed to beat the Atlanta Braves and either Baltimore or Toronto had lost. No luck on any of those, so the Tigers missed the postseason by 2.5 games. Rough ending for the Tiger offense, who managed only 3 runs in the final two games. You have to beat the bad teams to have a shot at the playoffs, and Detroit wasn't doing that down the stretch.

We could also have seen a game today if the Giants and Cardinals had ended up tied for the second NL wild card spot. But San Francisco beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to grab that spot, even though St. Louis won as well. For a while it looked like the Giants were going to fade enough in the second half of the season to miss the playoffs, but they did just enough to squeak in on the final regular season day.

The wild card games this year couldn't be much more evenly matched, at least as far as regular season records are concerned. Both AL teams have 89 wins, and both NL teams have 87. The games will be in Toronto and New York since the Blue Jays and Mets won the season series against their opponents, but it was only by one game in both cases.

I had thought the Blue Jays would win the AL East, but losing 16 games in September kept them from keeping up with Boston. The Orioles were slightly better, losing only 12 games in the final month, staying just ahead of Detroit. Both of these teams are sluggers, so this game could well be decided by who hits more home runs.

The story in New York will be the pitching matchup. Madison Bumgarner for Giants, and Noah Syndergaard for the Mets. Those are the top two NL pitchers in ERA that don't play for the Chicago Cubs, and both are in the top 5 in the NL in strikeouts. Combine that with the fact that both New York and San Francisco are in the bottom half of the NL in offense, and this could be a real pitcher's duel.

Of course, now that I've said that, we'll probably see a 1-0 game in the AL and a blowout in the NL. Because baseball.

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