MLB Wild Card Predictions

We’re almost midway through the final week of the MLB season, and with five of the six divisions already wrapped up, and the Boston Red Sox one win or a Blue Jay loss away from sealing up the AL East, all of the attention in the coming days will shift to the wild card races in both leagues.

Here is how things currently stand as we enter play on Wednesday: The Blue Jays are two games up on the Orioles for the first wild card spot in the American League, while the O’s are fending off the Tigers (one back), Mariners (2.0) and Astros (2.5), while the Yankees (4.0) and Royals (5) are still mathematically alive.

With the Jays and Orioles playing each other the next two days, the teams behind them will gain ground no matter what. For the slew of teams chasing, it would be in their best interest if Toronto won both of the remaining games, but with the two division rivals playing each other close this season, it’s likely that they’ll split the final two. That shouldn’t matter much to the Tigers, Mariners and Astros since they need to accrue wins anyway, if not needing to win-out entirely. If the Jays and Orioles did split, that would knock the Royals out of contention.

If the Yankees are still alive heading into the weekend, they’ll have a chance to sweep Baltimore in order to gain ground, but would then have to hope for the other teams in the mix to also lose some games with their elimination number currently at just two. The likelihood of them still making the playoffs is fairly slim, however, as they’ll have to survive two more games with the Red Sox while hoping for two more wins from Toronto while only losing one game off their own elimination number in the process. Losing three of four to the Blue Jays likely was the dagger to their season this past weekend.

For the other MLB playoff hopefuls, the Yankees winning this weekend will be a very big deal. They need Baltimore to drop some games, and the Yankees will effectively be in control of their fates. With the Mariners and Astros finishing up their series on Wednesday, the winner of the contest will have a big advantage moving forward, especially with an Oriole loss today.

Potentially at one game back with four against Oakland to finish out the regular season, the Mariners would be in a nice position, while if they were to be three games out (loss to the Astros, Oriole win on Wednesday), their chances would drop dramatically. The same goes for the Astros, while their opponents this upcoming weekend, the Angels, showed no signs of laying down for Houston when the two teams matched up last weekend with Anaheim taking three of four on the road. The Astros are 12-4 against the Angels on the season while Seattle is 10-5 against the A’s.

The team with the best odds, other than Baltimore, of claiming a wild card spot would be the Detroit Tigers. After a bullpen meltdown last weekend against the Royals helped kick them out of their short-lived wild card spot, they are now behind the eight ball. They have two more against Cleveland, who have already clinched the division, and three against the Atlanta Braves, who are 14-9 this month. That series will be no gimme.

Ultimately, I see the wild card race in the American League staying right where it is at the moment, with the Blue Jays and Orioles claiming the wild card spots and the game being held in Toronto. With a two game cushion that the Jays have, they’ll be able to line-up their starter for the wild card game, and with a potential date with the Texas Rangers on the line, they prevail. They have scored a few more runs than and allowed 53 less than the Orioles this season. Pair that with their defense being among the top ten in baseball according to Defensive Runs Saved, while Baltimore’s is among one of the worst, and it looks like Toronto can ride their pitching and defense to the ALDS.

In the National League, the Mets, Giants and Cardinals are fighting for two wild card spots. While there are fewer teams vying for the same number of spots, the intensity is arguably much higher in the Senior Circuit with all three teams being separated by just a game and a half. The Mets have a half-game lead over San Francisco, while the Giants have a game over the Cardinals.

Heading into Monday night’s games, I would have given the Giants no chance with just a half-game lead over St. Louis and the Cards set to face the Reds for four, but the Birds lost the first game of the series, and will likely need to take the next two after their win last night to take full advantage of their schedule.

The Mets have the slight edge in the standings and the easiest schedule of the trio, so they’re going to make it. This week, and which team joins the Mets in the MLB playoffs is likely going to be determined by the Giants bullpen, which has struggled mightily in September. While their 3.50 ERA isn’t atrocious, they are responsible for seven of San Francisco’s losses this month and have led to manager Bruce Bochy going with a bullpen by committee. That committee may now just be Sergio Romo for better or worse, as Romo earned two saves over the past week.

If Romo can in fact hold down the latter innings, the game that the bullpen would have likely blown this week could be the difference between a postseason berth and watching from home. The Cardinals are likely set up for another three to four wins this week at the very least, which means that the Giants have to keep their foot on the gas against the Rockies over the next two days, because they can’t expect the Dodgers to take it easy on them this weekend.

Effectively the Giants have to win both of their remaining games against Colorado to really up their odds of clinching a spot. The Dodgers aren’t going to get swept, especially if getting swept means allowing the Giants into the postseason to potentially continue their even year run at their own expense.

This is going to be a close call, but I’m going with the Mets hosting the wild card game against the winner of the tiebreaker game in St. Louis. Yes, I’m going with the Giants and Cardinals being tied at the conclusion of play on Sunday.

With the Mets rested and their pitching staff all lined up, I see them beating the Cardinals in the NL wild card game, setting up a rematch with the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS. In a short series it’ll be rough for the Mets to pull off the upset here, especially with Noah Syndergaard as the wild card game starting pitcher, but if they were able to sneak one of the first two games before Thor got his turn in the rotation, then an upset could be in the works. It’s a long shot though.

We’ll be back at this time next week to try and predict what will happen in the Division Series, but until then, what do you think will happen the rest of the week? What are your MLB predictions?

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