With the American League Wild Card game completed, here is how the MLB Playoffs break down:
Game 1, in St. Louis – Today at 5 PM ET/2 PM PT on TBS
Game 2, in St. Louis – Tomorrow at 1 PM ET/10 AM PT on MLB Network
Game 3, in Pittsburgh – Sunday at TBD on TBS
Game 4, in Pittsburgh (If Necessary) – Monday at TBD on TBS/MLB Network
Game 5, in St. Louis (If Necessary) – Wednesday at TBD on TBS
Announcers: Dick Stockton/Bob Brenly/Matt Winer (TBS); Bob Costas/Jim Kaat/Sam Ryan (MLB Network)
What you need to know:
- These two division rivals squared off 19 times with the season series ending in a near split, as Pittsburgh won 10-9.
- This is the third consecutive year and the fourth time in the last five seasons that the St. Louis Cardinals have reached the postseason. For the Pirates of course, this is the first time since 1992 that they have reached the playoffs, let alone finished with a winning record (.580 winning percentage this season). In America, we love the underdog story. And for many fans whose teams in whatever sport it may be have been so terrible for so long, we can all embrace the Pittsburgh Pirates as they have done what we all hope our team can do and make it from rock bottom back to relevancy.
- The St. Louis Cardinals are not your usual story of dominance, though. Many, including myself, find it very difficult to embrace the teams who “buy championships” and that’s certainly not the Cardinals way. Of the 25 Cardinals on their postseason roster, 18 are homegrown.
- Pitching and defense wins championships – or so they say – and neither team possesses one of the best rotations in the league. Liriano, Locke and Burnett could be formidable, but don’t count out Wainwright, Miller and Lance Lynn.
- Stars to watch: Andrew McCutchen and Matt Holliday. In 2013, McCutchen had a .706 OPS vs. STL (.911 overall) and a 8 K/1 BB rate (101 K/78 BB overall). McCutchen must perform like himself for the Pirates to succeed. For Holliday, he hit .342 with an .813 OPS against Pittsburgh (.300 avg, .879 OPS overall), and had a 13 K/8 BB rate (86/69 overall).
- Prediction: Dylan – Pirates in 5. Joe – Cardinals in 4.
Game 1, in Atlanta – Today at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT on TBS
Game 2, in Atlanta – Friday at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT on TBS
Game 3, in Los Angeles -Sunday at TBD on TBS
Game 4, in Los Angeles (If Necessary) – Monday at TBD on TBS/MLB Network
Game 5, in Atlanta (If Necessary) – Wednesday at TBD on TBS
Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Jr./Ron Darling/Cal Ripken/Craig Sager (TBS). Matt Vasgergian/Jim Kaat/Sam Ryan (MLB Network).
What you need to know:
- The Dodgers’ new ownership has not been afraid to spend big (see 2012’s trade with the Red Sox) and is now in the postseason for the first time since 2009. Young Cuban star Yasiel Puig lit a spark into the team when he was promoted to the bigs, as at the time the Dodgers were floundering and many were calling for manager Don Mattingly’s job. Upon Puig’s call-up, the Dodgers won 4 of 5 and went on to win 10 of 11 at the end of June and start of July.
- The Braves’ season was kick started by the success of Evan Gattis and along with the consistent offensive output of Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, the Braves had the NL East all but locked up very early into the season. This week, the Upton brothers grace the cover of Sports Illustrated along with supermodel Kate, though they haven’t exactly been the prime contributors to the Braves’ success.
- The Dodgers rotation of Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu and now Nolasco is extremely potent. Kris Medlen and Mike Minor are both certainly quality pitchers, but most people would take Ryu and Nolasco against Teheran and the ageless Venezuelan Freddy Garcia any day, so the Braves are going to have to count on their top of the line bullpen.
- Prediction: Dylan – Dodgers in 4. Joe – Dodgers in 5
Game 1, in Boston – Tomorrow at 3 PM ET/Noon PT on TBS
Game 2, in Boston – Saturday at 5:30 PM ET/2:30 PM PT on TBS
Game 3, in Tampa – Monday at TBD on TBS/MLB Network
Game 4, in Tampa (If Necessary) – Tuesday at TBD on TBS
Game 5, in Boston (If Necessary) – Oct. 10 at TBD on TBS
Announcers: Brian Anderson/Joe Simpson/John Smoltz/Rachel Nichols (TBS)
What you need to know:
- At the start of the season, if you had said that the Boston Red Sox would win the AL East, most everyone would look at you like you were crazy, and for good reason. Unlike most years in recent memory, the team they’d assembled did little to inspire confidence. David Ortiz – at age 37 – had a phenomenal season with a .564 slugging percentage and a .959 OPS. Daniel Nava was also a great contributor for Boston, and along with a pitching staff led by Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and unexpected closer Koji Uehara, the bearded boys from Beantown were one of the best teams in the majors this season.
- We’ve been here before with the Rays, and yet Tampa is most certainly not the favorites in this series. Through the two play in games though Tampa has shown how dominant their pitching staff can be, and we haven’t even seen All-Star Matt Moore or Chris Archer yet. The Rays 1-4 may be the best in the American League playoffs, and with Jamey Wright (can’t believe I’m saying that), Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney in the ‘pen, the Rays pitching staff could be enough to lead them to the World Series.
- In the offseason, the Rays shipped off two starters – Wade Davis and “Big Game” James Shields – to the Kansas City Royals, and in return received prospect Jake Odorizzi and stud (and AL Rookie of the Year candidate) Wil Myers. The man with one “l” provided the force in the lineup to help Longoria out, as Myers was .293/.354/.478 with 13 HR, 23 doubles and 53 RBI. Kid’s fun to watch.
- James Loney was a big surprise for the Rays this season. Tampa pulled a classic Rays move by picking him up on the free agent market on the cheap, and Loney rewarded them by missing only four games all season and batting .299/.348/.430 with 13 HR, 33 doubles and 75 RBI.
- Prediction: Dylan – Rays in 5. Joe – Red Sox in 4.
Game 1, in Oakland – Tomorrow at 9:30 PM ET/6:30 PM PT on TBS
Game 2, in Oakland – Saturday at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT on TBS
Game 3, in Detroit – Monday at TBD on TBS/MLB Network
Game 4, in Detroit (If Necessary) – Tuesday at TBD on TBS
Game 5, in Oakland (If Necessary) – Oct. 10 at TBD on TBS
Announcers: Don Orsillo/Dennis Eckersley/Buck Martinez/David Aldridge (TBS)
What you need to know:
- Oakland, the Red Sox of the east (I’m referring to the beards here), take on the Detroit Tigers who are led by Miguel Cabrera, the eminent MVP. Last season, I would argue that Mike Trout deserved the MVP more than Cabrera. This season? Cabrera has earned the MVP. Cabrera now has 5 consecutive seasons with a minimum .324/.393/.547, and almost replicated his HR/RBI numbers from 2012 (44/139 in 2012, 44/137 this season).
- This past off-season, the Tigers added Torii Hunter to help solidify their lineup. Newsflash: it’s worked. Hunter went .304/.334/.465 with 17 HR and 84 RBI.
- The best pitcher in the Tigers rotation? No, it wasn’t Justin Verlander. Max Scherzer was very good in 2013. Yes, I am a staunch opponent of the W-L stat for pitchers. Nonetheless, Scherzer put up a 10.08 K/9 (2nd in MLB), 2.74 FIP (7th in MLB), 6.4 WAR (2nd in MLB), 28.7 K% (2nd in MLB), 2.98 SIERA (6th in MLB). So folks, if a guy has a great W-L but I say that’s a dumb stat, that doesn’t mean I’m saying the guy is bad…
- Josh Donaldson may be the most underrated player in the American League. .301/.384/.494 with 24 HR and 93 RBI for a WAR of 8.0? Yeah, that’s pretty good.
- Brandon Moss and Coco Crisp were also big contributors for the A’s, as the 1B/CF duo combined for 52 HR and 153 RBI.
- On the mound, the true ageless one Bartolo Colon was one of the better starters in the American League (2.65 ERA in 190.1 IP, 117 K/29 BB, 6.0% HR/FB ratio). Bob Melvin and the A’s will look to Colon to lead them in the postseason.
- The Oakland Coliseum is a dump, literally. It needs to be said, and it’s a problem that must be fixed.
- Prediction: Dylan – Athletics in 5. Joe – Athletics in 5