Major League Baseball : Wild Card Previews & Predictions
Baseball : The regular season is done... time for October.
Sunday marked the conclusion of the regular season and signalled the beginning of Major League Baseball’s playoffs. Over the month of October, ten teams across two leagues will battle it out for the World Series crown. The first elimination round consists of the two Wild Card games. These are “win-or-go-home” battles with the winners advancing to the home of the top-seeded team in each league to play in a best-of-five divisional series.
American League Wildcard Game
On Tuesday, in New York City, the Minnesota Twins travel to face the New York Yankees in the American League Wild Card game. The pitching match-up will be the Twins’ Ervin Santana (16 wins, 3.28 ERA) against the Yankees’ Luis Severino (14 wins, 2.98 ERA). Earlier this month, both pitchers had a warm-up against their Wild Card foe without much fanfare. Santana threw an uneventful 5 innings against the Yankees, giving up seven hits and two runs. Severino only lasted three innings against the Twins giving up three runs. If there is a pitching advantage in this game it belongs to New York. With six terrific relievers, highlighted by the fireballer Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees won’t give Severino much slack if the Twins get to him early.
Offensively, the Yankees have a clear statistical edge. With a run differential of +198, (this is a simple of equation of runs scored against runs scored against) the Yankees had the second best total in MLB. Leading the charge for New York is MVP and Rookie of the Year candidate Aaron Judge. The Yankees right fielder had a historic season setting the rookie home run record with 52 in 2017, cementing him as a mega star in the great game.
Even though New York looks terrific on paper, I’m going to throw a curveball here and pick the Twins to pull the upset. Santana is a veteran pitcher who limits baserunners and can pitch deep into games which will minimise Minnesota’s major weakness: their bullpen.
Prediction: Minnesota 5, New York 2
National League Wildcard Game
In the National League, two teams out of the NL West division will face-off as Colorado Rockies journeys to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks. Starting for the Rockies will be staff ace, Jon Gray (10 wins, 3.67 ERA) and for their opponent, Zack Greinke (17 wins, 3.20 ERA) will get the nod for Arizona. With the Diamondbacks having a powerful, quick-scoring offence, I can’t see Colorado manager Bud Black allowing Gray much leeway before going to the bullpen. Gray did, however, pitch well at Arizona three weeks ago with seven innings pitched in a 4-2 win, totalling ten strikeouts.
Colorado’s offence will suffer by not playing in Denver. The Rockies hit fifty points lower on the road (.298 at Coors Field, .248 elsewhere), and this batting average disparity caused the Rockies to score 155 less runs away from Coors. Arizona will get the benefit of the home field where they scored the second most runs in the National League, next only to the Rockies.
Colorado’s mediocre play on the road will be amplified by having to face Greinke and that equation will ultimately be the difference in Wednesday’s game.
Prediction: Arizona 7, Colorado 4