2019 Wild Card
Nationals 8 Brewers 3
Both teams in the National League Wild Card Game finished the seasons strong as the Milwaukee Brewers pulled away from the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs by winning 18 of 20 games from September 5-26. However, they lost their last three games with a shot to get the Division Championship. The Washington Nationals meanwhile earned the right to host the game, by winning their final eight games. Most of the Brewers damage was done without their MVP Christian Yelich, but it was against the weak underbelly of the National League. The Nationals finished strong against teams that were in contention late in the season, including the Indians who were eliminated from playing in the AL Wild Card over the weekend. On a neutral field, the Nats would have the advantage, as their lineup is deeper, with Anthony Rendon having an MVP season leading the way along with Juan Soto. The Nats also have a tremendous edge with the starting pitcher as Max Scherzer has postseason experience and is one of the best in the game. The Brewers, are countering with Brandon Woodruff, who has only made two appearances since July spending much of the second half on the Injured List. The Brewers have the bullpen edge, as the Nats pen has often struggled especially their middle relief. Sean Doolittle has been serviceable as a closer for Washington, but beyond that the rest of the pen is unreliable. Josh Hader can go multiple innings for Milwaukee and can flip the game if it is tied late. The key is for Scherzer to go deep and cut the bridge to Doolittle as the Nationals score early and often to get the crowd in the game.
Rays 5 Athletics 2
The American League Wild Card race was exciting down to the bitter end as one game separated three teams as the final week of the season began. The Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays would beat out of the Cleveland Indians in the last few games, as Oakland earned the right to host the game. The Rays and A’s are nearly mirror images of themselves as both teams are from small markets and play in horrendous stadiums that repel fans away from the game. Oakland has the stronger lineup, while Tampa Bay has the pitching edge. The Rays have already tabbed Charlie Morton to make the start. Oakland is likely to begin the game with Sean Manaea on the mound. Manaea though is unlikely to go deep, as the Athletics plan appears to be using as many pitchers as possible to keep the Rays off-balance. Morton has had experience in the postseason, having pitched the last two seasons with the Astros. In 2017 he had two key outings that helped Houston win its first World Championship. The bullpen game strategy was invented by Kevin Cash and the Rays but is flawed in that anyone pitcher having an off night can be the difference. Charlie Morton had a career-best 16 wins in 2019 and allowed one hit in six innings against the Yankees in his final regular-season tuneup. Look for Charlie Morton to be the difference as the Rays got into Oakland, and win the right to face the Houston Astros in the ALDS.