October 04, 2016
Sure finishing with the eighth worst record in baseball -- and without a winning record for the fifth straight season -- wasn’t fun for Phillies fans, but imagine if a spirited run at a postseason berth came to an end after just nine innings of playoff baseball?
Welcome to baseball’s Wild Card round ... which will be over in about 36 hours.
In an age where television networks attempt to suck every last dollar out of games – the advertisement revenue from live sporting events is particularly unique when you compare it to the popular DVR, Netflix and on-Demand TV viewing habits, when you can avoid commercials – it’s crazy Major League Baseball hasn’t figured out a way to make these a best-out-of-three round.
Baseball is a game that should be played in series anyway, and not one game. If you want to test the very best of a 25-man roster, it’s a little random to go the one game route, when just one of your five starting pitchers will be on the mound. This isn’t football; you essentially have four to five quarterbacks on a baseball roster.
But I digress.
Some have made the argument for the one-game playoff, and they have made good points. I just don’t see a series (more games!) as being “boring” either.
And as for division winners getting extra rest, I can't ever remember players complaining about getting four-to-five days to recharge during the All-Star break.
For the first time in three years, this will not be known as the round where the Pittsburgh Pirates get bounced from the playoffs. It’s the Mets turn!
Here’s one man’s prediction for the Wild Card games that will take place in the next two nights.
If you’re not a fan of pitchers’ duels but don’t ever miss the annual Home Run Derby during All-Star week, this game is for you.
With all due respect to Chris Tillman and Marcus Stroman, the AL Wild Card game, unlike its NL counterpart, doesn’t look like a matchup where someone is at risk of being shut out. You know those high-scoring football games you watch and figure the last team with the ball is going to win? That’s what this feels like. So, Toronto, right?
While the aforementioned TV networks are surely rooting for the Canadian entrant among these two AL East foes to move on to take on Cole Hamels and the Texas Rangers, for a number of reasons, but mainly this:
... this just feels like the Orioles year. With five players on the roster with 25 or more home runs this season (including three with 37 or more) the Orioles hit 253 home runs this season, 28 more than any other team in baseball.
But in winning seven of their last nine games to secure their third postseason berth in the last five years, Baltimore closed out the regular season with superb pitching, too.
Orioles starters had a 3.79 ERA since Sept. 1 and their relievers had a 1.70 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. All three of those numbers were the best marks over any month this season for Baltimore pitchers.
Meanwhile, Toronto’s bullpen has a 4.80 ERA since Sept. 1 and their relievers have issued 30 walks in 90 innings during that time, more than in any other month in 2016. The Blue Jays are going to need a sturdy start from Stroman (4.59 ERA at home this season, 7.04 ERA in four starts vs. Baltimore in 2016) to have a chance.
But the educated guess here is that the aforementioned power trio of Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo (.455 career hitter vs. Stroman), and Chris Davis (.308 vs. Stroman) will get to Stroman early tonight.
Neither Trumbo or Davis have ever homered against Stroman. Expect that to change tonight.
And once the Orioles get the ball to relief ace Zach Britton – one earned run since April (a 0.16 ERA in over 58 games) – it’ll be goodbye, Blue Jays.
Yes, seriously. Madison Bumgarner is on the mound. We probably don't have to waste time with any more words here.
Sure, Noah Syndergaard has it in him to blank the Giants over eight innings and send the defending National League champs onward. But he’s also pitched more than six innings in just four of his last 14 starts and hasn’t ever pitched seven innings in the postseason.
Again, this isn’t saying he is not capable. But, Bumgarner.
Madison Bumgarner has faced 111 batters over four starts here. The Mets have yet to pop up the apple. 🍎 pic.twitter.com/gbw4JzsMmh— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) October 4, 2016
The last time we saw Madison Bumgarner in the playoffs he was holding onto World Series and NLCS MVP trophies. Bumgarner had a 0.43 ERA in the 2014 World Series.
Bumgarner has a 2.14 ERA in 14 career playoffs games. In his last eight postseason games, since Game 2 of the 2012 World Series, he has a 0.91 ERA and two shutouts.