NL Wild Card: San Francisco Giants
By Channing Whitaker
The National League Wild Card race is coming down to only three possible teams. The Giants, Cardinals and Mets have had rollercoaster years, but as the season winds down, each team finds itself in the playoff hunt.
All three teams have been in the World Series in the past three years, so they all have great experience when it comes to executing down the stretch. With only two spots open, who is the odd team out?
I believe the Mets will be left out and the Giants and Cardinals will duke it out in the one-game Wild Card matchup.
Even though the Giants are having one of their worst second halves in franchise history, they have been winning enough games to still be leading the Wild Card race. Being able to play the Cardinals at home, their rival Dodgers for six games and below .500 teams in the Rockies and Padres, San Francisco truly does control its own destiny to locking up a Wild Card spot.
Additionally, starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Matt Moore have been throwing extremely well as of late despite their early second half of the season struggles.
St. Louis is always a difficult team to eliminate. Mike Matheny hasn’t failed to miss the playoffs since his tenure began in St. Louis, and I don’t expect that streak to end now.
In the end, I think San Francisco will defeat St. Louis in the Wild Card game. Despite the criticism manager Bruce Bochy has been getting lately on his team’s second half struggles, he always seems to pull the right strings together during pivotal moments of important games.
AL Wild Card: Baltimore Orioles
By Kevin Lindgren
Opposite of the National League Wild Card race, the American League features seven teams within five games of the two wild card spots.
I think it’s likely both Wild Card teams will come from the AL East Division, and I think those teams will be the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Orioles offense this season has been sublime. Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis all boast 35 or more home runs each. Along with Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop, their offense can score against any pitcher in any inning.
While their starting pitching has been a weak spot so far, Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman still sport an ERA in the mid 3s. That’s good enough to win with their offense.
Baltimore’s offense may have power, but Toronto has the complete package. Their monster lineup, highlighted by Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson, make the Blue Jays one of the most feared offenses in all of baseball.
I think the difference between the two teams will be the bullpens. Baltimore’s Brad Brach and Zach Britton have been dominant in the back end of the bullpen. Brach boasts a 1.76 ERA while Britton has converted on all 42 save opportunities with a 0.62 ERA.
With a fantastic offense, an elite closer and leaders with former playoff experience, Baltimore will win the AL Wild Card game.