WILD CARD SERIES PREDICTIONS

2022-10-06 · 5 min read · MLB/Baseball
Toronto Blue Jays

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images | Yardbarker

One day before all hell breaks loose, the peaceful tranquillity of no baseball being played can be felt throughout all of the Major Leagues. A relaxing day, and dare I say the last few stress-free hours for players and fans alike. A day that, as is fitting, allows me to explain exactly how every second of the Wild Card Round will unfold. No ifs, buts, or maybes - just absolutes. And I am absolutely certain that there will be an upset along the way, but maybe not in the first round…
TORONTO BLUE JAYS VS. SEATTLE MARINERS (WC 1 vs. WC 2)
20 years in the making, the Seattle Mariners are in the postseason. No (complete) end-of-year collapse, no (total) second-half meltdown, and no (overall) implosion. But also no home games - an overlooked challenge, based on where they’re headed. Seattle’s outstanding pitching against Toronto’s fiery offence is the main storyline in this one, with neither team primed for any such destruction of the other. Had the Mariners managed to squeeze into the third Wild Card spot, they would have been my pick to oust the Guardians. Unfortunately for them though, they couldn’t, and the Rogers Centre awaits. 45,000+ having waited six years for another chance to cheer on Canada’s team in October is not an atmosphere to take lightly - ask Astros’ Trey Mancini, he knows. There’s enough pressure, to begin with, but Jays’ faithful will make it nearly impossible for the Mariners to overcome Toronto’s home-field advantage.
Plus, Toronto’s staff are not pushovers. Yeah, Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray are a fantastic one-two punch, but so are Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman. Proclaiming that there’s an insurmountable gap between Seattle’s rotation and Toronto’s is a fool’s opinion - need I remind everyone that Alek Manoah, for a time, was in the Cy Young race this year (and hasn’t thrown less than six innings in any of his starts since August 16th this year!). Perhaps I’m overvaluing Toronto’s home crowd, or perhaps I’m just Toronto-biased. Either way, I have Toronto advancing to the ALDS with a 2-1 series win.
PREDICTION: BLUE JAYS
CLEVELAND GUARDIANS VS. TAMPA BAY RAYS (ALC WINNER vs. WC 3)
Outside of Cleveland, I’m not too sure how many of us - honestly - had the AL Central going to the Guardians. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility (I had them finishing 3rd, with an 85-77 record), but none of us were prepared for the collapse that was the Chicago White Sox. A HEAVY dropoff from all expectations, mixed with Cleveland and their merry under-the-radar bullpen choir coming together to form one of the best staffs in the league helped contribute to a pleasant surprise in Ohio. Relievers Enyel De Los Santos, Nick Sandlin, Trevor Stephan, Sam Hentges, and Eli Morgan were all fantastic leading up to Closer Emmanuel Clase and noted crazyman James Karinchak. Don’t lie, you didn’t know who five-sevenths of those guys were before the season started.
Outside Cleveland’s arms though, Tampa Bay just hasn’t possessed that ‘oomph’ factor that they’ve had in years past. Never underestimate them is what I always say, but…they barely squeaked into the final Wild Card spot ahead of Baltimore and injuries have riddled their team. Tampa is no pushover, and Shane McClanahan is really, really good, but there isn’t enough there to overcome a well-oiled Cleveland staff. 2-0, Guardians.
PREDICTION: GUARDIANS
NEW YORK METS VS. SAN DIEGO PADRES (WC 1 vs. WC 2)
Between injuries, suspension, and general underperformance, San Diego has had quite an interesting year up until now. A second-place finish behind the mighty Dodgers is nothing to be ashamed of, however, individual storylines (Fernando Tatis Jr.) mixed with risky management decisions (Josh Hader) have taken the attention away from the field and into personnel questioning - something that’s never good. On the field, they’re a fine team - just not better than the 101-win New York Mets who, as unfair as it is to them, are forced to play in a Wild Card series because Atlanta is just too damn good.
The same ol’ Mets trope will be broken this year, I’m calling it. There are simply too many great pieces in New York for the Padres to compete with - namely, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Mad Max has been confirmed to toe the rubber for Game 1 against Yu Darvish, a pivotal game that could easily spell doom for the Friars simply because of, well, deGrom waiting in the wings (and Chris Bassitt, too!). Citi Field will be rockin’ on Friday, and I think it’d be good for the entire world of baseball if we’re able to take in Edwin Diaz coming out to a packed stadium…I need that. The world needs that. San Diego will rebound next year, but a New York 2-0 series win is what my gut is telling me.
PREDICTION: METS
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS VS. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (NLC WINNER vs. WC 3)
Out of all the playoff teams this year, the Phillies may be the least impressive. Sure, their front-end Starters in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are terrific and they have a good middle-of-the-order in Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto…but that’s about it. The bullpen is middle-of-the-pack at best, and there’s an intangible aspect to the Phillies too - nobody seems to take them seriously. After clinching a playoff spot, they were no-hit into the ninth by Houston the very next day. They barely edged out Milwaukee (who shot themselves in the foot, anyways) for the final Wild Card spot and, unless a miracle happens, should just be happy that they made it this far.
St. Louis has a terrific offence, one that is so good it can make up for the questionable - at times - Starting Pitching. Jose Quintana - yeah, that Jose Quintana - is scheduled to start game one opposite Zack Wheeler after the Cards’ picked him up at the deadline from Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t be shocked if Philly manages to grab a sneaky win in this series, for no other reason than sometimes weirdness happens, but it would astound me if the Cardinals go one-and-done. And so for that reason, I’m taking St. Louis to win the series 2-1 - it probably should be 2-0, but Cards’ pitching is not as sturdy as I’d like it to be.
PREDICTION: CARDINALS
Once the dust settles on the Wild Card round, I wouldn’t expect to be too shocked - the ALDS and NLDS are where I believe the weirdness will start to unfold.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins

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