WILD CARD MATCHUPS SET AS BEST-OF-THREE SERIES BEGIN TODAY

2023-10-03 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Brandon Pfaadt and Merrill Kelly

Kevin Sousa and Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports | AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Playoff baseball is finally here, six months and 162 regular season games later. Eight teams over four matchups begin their postseason push today, so let’s take a look at each of the matchups:
#6 TORONTO BLUE JAYS (89-73) VS. #3 MINNESOTA TWINS (87-75)
Perhaps the most evenly matched of any Wild Card series, starting pitching will be the key for whoever pulls this one out. Starters for each of the first two games have been announced by both teams as of now; Kevin Gausman will face Pablo Lopez in Game 1, Jose Berrios will face Sonny Gray in Game 2. Though unconfirmed, it is all but guaranteed that Chris Bassitt will toe off against Joe Ryan in Game 3, should it be required.
In six meetings this year, each team won theirs 2-1 for a tied record of 3-3 over two 3-gamers. Both Lopez and Gausman have had problems against each other’s squads this year, with the former (5 ⅔ IP, 4 runs) outdueling the latter (4 ⅔ IP, 6 runs) in their respective starts. As simple as it sounds, whichever squad can outlast the opponent’s starters will take this series.
#5 TEXAS RANGERS (90-72) VS. #4 TAMPA BAY RAYS (99-63)
Having the same record as the division-winning Astros, Texas will take on the always-intense Tampa Bay Rays - a squad who came up two games short of the AL East title. Tyler Glasnow and Zach Eflin will start Games 1 & 2 for Tampa, while Jordan Montgomery is the only confirmed starter for Texas.
Once destined to win the AL West, the Rangers crumbled over the last month and a half of the season and eventually slipped from first in the West, and had to settle with the second Wild Card spot. It’ll be a tough matchup for the Rangers, confidence aside, as the Rays finished with the 2nd-best record in the AL and 4th-best record in baseball. Glasnow pitched only once against Texas this year, in June, allowing just one run over six innings to grab his first win of the year. Jordan Montgomery on the other hand hasn’t faced Tampa Bay this season, however he enters the playoffs having gone seven innings in three of his last four starts - allowing just 2 runs over his last 27 innings.
#6 ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (84-78) VS. #3 MILWAUKEE BREWERS (92-70)
Entering the playoffs with statistically the worst record of any postseason team, Arizona will send rookie Brandon Pfaadt to the mound in Game 1, opposed by Corbin Burnes. Zac Gallen will start Game 2 for Arizona, followed by Merrill Kelly if needed, however Milwaukee has not announced starters for Games 2 or 3. Brandon Woodruff, however, is out for the Wild Card series with a shoulder issue - Milwaukee is hopeful he’ll be back for the NLDS.
Having won the NL Central for the second time in three years, Milwaukee once again turns to their pitching to lead them into the NLDS. They’ll have to face an up-and-coming Diamondbacks squad led by potential ROY Corbin Carroll, with a good starting staff of their own. Pfaadt begins the series based on rotation rest, as both Gallen and Kelly were used in their final series of the regular season against Houston. Just 24 years old, Pfaadt has had an up-and-down rookie year posting a 5.72 ERA overall though he tossed 5 ⅔ shutout innings in his final start of the year. Burnes, like usual, was dominant as ever as he posted a 3.39 ERA in 2023, facing Arizona twice - once being an 8-inning shutout, the other allowing seven runs over 5 innings.
#5 MIAMI MARLINS (84-77) VS. #4 PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (90-72)
Finally, the Marlins and Phillies - playing in ESPN’s primetime slot, 8:08 PM EST each of the (minimum) first two games. Jesus Luzardo and Braxton Garrett for Miami, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola for Philadelphia. Four good pitchers, though a much tougher matchup for Miami’s staff due to Philadelphia’s potent offense.
Twice has Jesus Luzardo faced the Phillies this season, both resulting in very good starts - three runs over 6, and two runs over 6 ⅓. Garrett only faced Philly once, a 5-inning start allowing three runs. On the flip side, Wheeler has pitched to three no-decisions against Miami in 2023, going 6 innings each time, allowing six runs total. Nola has also pitched thrice against the Marlins, allowing four runs in each start for a combined total of sixteen innings.
GUS’ PREDICTIONS:
  • Toronto Blue Jays 2 - Minnesota Twins 1
  • Texas Rangers 2 - Tampa Bay Rays 1
  • Arizona Diamondbacks 2 - Milwaukee Brewers 1
  • Philadelphia Phillies 2 - Miami Marlins 0
Submit your playoff bracket on Sportstree before 3:08 PM EST on October 3rd for your chance at winning $500!
Click HERE to make your bracket!
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By: Gus Cousins

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