2016 Wild Card
Orioles 8 Blue Jays 5
These two teams have been even all season, with both finishing with records of 89-73 as the Toronto Blue Jays won the season series 10-9 to get the privilege of hosting the Wild Card game. The Baltimore Orioles have won all season with a powerful offense, as five Orioles hit 25 or more home runs, with Mark Trumbo leading the way with 47 as the O’s major league best 253 home runs as a team. Starting pitching has been a vulnerability for Baltimore, but expected Wild Card starter Chris Tillman posted a solid 16-6 mark despite a hefty 3.77 ERA. The Blue Jays lineup is also power packed with Edwin Encarnacion leading the with 42 homers while Josh Donaldson had another big year with 37. The Jays starting pitching has had some of the same issues as the Orioles as their two top line starters J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez were used in the final days of the regular season to get Toronto into the playoffs. Down the stretch and in September the Blue Jays struggled, posting a record of 13-16 as the division title slipped away. The reason for the Jays late season struggles was their offense dropped off as they averaged 3.69 runs per game, a full run below their season average. The Jays have also been bad with runners in scoring position, with their .249 mark lowest among American League playoff teams, including a 13 for 66 stretch in their last eight games. The biggest concern for Toronto has to be their struggling bullpen, which has blown five late inning leads in the last eight games. The Orioles bullpen backed by Cy Young contender Zach Britton’s 47 saves and 0.54 ERA has been a season saver. With two strong lineups, questionable starting pitching, chances are the bullpen will decide this game and that is music to the Orioles ears.
Mets 2 Giants 0
The New York Mets are the reigning National League Champions, while the San Francisco Giants are seeking to continue their even year magic and make another championship run. The best thing the Giants have going for them is Madison Bumgarner a dominant postseason pitcher who two years had one of the greatest Octobers ever recorded, winning the Wild Card, NLCS MVP and World Series MVP, while recording the save in Game 7. Madison Bumgarner faced the Mets twice, winning both games in 2016, though he was hit hard in his second start in August. Noah Syndegaard split two games against the Giants, allowing two hits eight innings in August to get the Mets back to .500. The Giants have played better down the stretch, sweeping the Dodgers to get the second Wild Card spot. However, the second half was a nightmare for San Francisco as they were among the worst teams in baseball in the second half, with a record of 30-44 after the All-Star Break. Prior to the break the Giant had the best record in baseball at 57-33 demonstrating just how bog their second half fall off was. The Mets were the best team in baseball over the last six weeks, posting a record of 27-13 in their final 40 games after losing the first two games of a four game series at AT&T Park to fall two games below .500 at 60-62. The Mets did it with every player playing a key role as they were ravaged by injuries, with three of their four young aces going down. Noah Syndegaard was the last man standing and the most reliable all season, posting a record of 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA. His only weakness is holding runners on, something the Giants took advantage of when they beat him on May 1st. This one has a pitcher’s duel written all over, with the Mets scratching out two runs to get the win with their back end of the bullpen proving to be the difference.