September 29, 2020

Wild Card Series (Best-Of-Three)

The four American League Wild Card Series begin today:

ALWC G1: Astros at Twins, 2 PM (All Times ET)

ALWC G1: White Sox at Athletics, 3 PM

ALWC G1: Blue Jays at Rays, 5 PM

ALWC G1: Yankees at Cleveland, 7 PM

I'm not a fan of an expanded postseason, where more teams made the postseason (16) than not (14), but Wednesday's schedule is pretty clearly made for baseball junkies (game/series threads):

NLWC G1: Reds at Atlanta, 12 PM

ALWC G2: Astros at Twins, 1 PM

NLWC G1: Marlins at Cubs, 2 PM

ALWC G2: White Sox at Athletics, 3 PM

ALWC G2: Blue Jays at Rays, 4 PM

NLWC G1: Cardinals at Padres, 5 PM

ALWC G2: Yankees at Cleveland, 7 PM

NLWC G1: Brewers at Dodgers, 10 PM

No travel days in this round. The home teams are hosting all of the games.

Craig Calcaterra, Cup of Coffee, September 29, 2020:

Dodgers: The best and most balanced team in the field by far. As I said yesterday, if you extrapolate their win total to a 162-game season, they'd have been 116-46. If you extrapolate out their run differential to 162, it’d be +360. No team has ever won more than 116 games in a season. Only two teams have ever had run differentials better than 360, and they are the two teams most commonly ranked as The Greatest Team of All Time, the 1927 and 1939 Yankees. I'm not saying the Dodgers are those guys, and obviously their greatness is a bit hard to quantify because it was such a short season, but the 2020 Dodgers are a truly special club. But it's also a club that lost two games in a row four times and lost two out of three games seven times in the 2020 season. Losing two of three happens to even the most dominant of teams, and now this dominant team is being tossed into a best two-out-of-three opening round. Shit could happen. Shit can always happen in three games. . . .

Rays: You know their deal by now: amazing depth, a strong and versatile next-man-up bullpen, the ability to mash lefties with Brandon Lowe and Willy Adames leading the charge, and excellent defense and strategy and all that has come to define the Rays Brand.™ In this short opening series, of course, they get to pitch Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow in two of the three games, so trying to punch them out early before the longer rounds when that depth and all of those arms are really gonna create problems for opponents is gonna be a tall, tall order. . . .

Cleveland: This seems like the team no one should want to face in the first round because they go 1-2-3 better than the Reds and better than anyone, what with AL Cy Young presumptive Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco and Zach Plesac. Their fourth option, Triston McKenzie, would easily be in a lot of team's first three and here he'll be a strong presence out of the pen (and another starting obstacle in later rounds if they advance). The problem, obviously, is offense. They have the worst OPS of any team in the postseason. José Ramírez will likely win the AL MVP but it's slim pickings after him. They'll have to win low-scoring games or hope that someone steps up in ways they never did, outside of Ramírez, from July through September.

Yankees: They draw Cleveland, and it's gonna be tough. D.J. LeMahieu and Luke Voit are gonna get theirs, but there are a lot more questions in this Yankees lineup than we've seen in recent years. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will play, but both are Tin Man-rusty. If either of them or Gary Sánchez get hot, look out, the Yankees are a totally different team. If not, the Yankees are going to need Gerrit Cole to come up big against Bieber in Game 1 and then hope their pen and their two big bats solve Cleveland's other arms. They've just been so damn streaky this year that, frankly, I could see them turning into a postseason buzzsaw or bowing out by Thursday. Maybe the hardest team to handicap in this whole tournament. . . .

So, Predictions?


I mean it, no.

It's kind of insane to pretend you can predict a best of three between any two big league teams, even when one is great and one is terrible. When most of those matchups are between all pretty decent teams, well Christ, you're clearly just guessing.

Sure. . . . I agree. . . . Nevertheless . . .

ALWC: Cleveland over Yankees in 2

No comments: