2020 Wild Card
The Tampa Bay Rays stunned most experts, winning the American League East for the first time in a decade and posting the American League at 40-20. The Rays have won of baseball’s lowest payrolls and are a team without many stars. They do everything right and know how to win. They have strong pitching led by Charlie Morton and Blake Snell and are great at manufacturing runs, which is vital in the postseason. The Blue Jays are a team on the rise with a rich pedigree but have a near-impossible task with this series.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are loaded. At 43-17, they are the best team in baseball in this bizarre truncated season. They have strong starting pitching, they have depth, they have a good bullpen, and they have an enormous amount of pressure. If this team fails in the postseason, there will be upheaval in Los Angeles. The Milwaukee Brewers are the worst team in the postseason, as Christian Yelich had a disappointing season. The D0dgers should win this series with their eyes closed and one hand tied behind their backs.
The Chicago White Sox are in the playoff ahead of schedule. They were expected to be a team on the rise, but they were in contention to win the Central Division until the end of the season. The White Sox struggled over the final week of the season as some of their young players began to hit a wall. The Oakland Athletics led the Western Divison all season and could be poised for a long postseason run. The White Sox are a young team that will be a contender in the next few years, this series will be a learning experience, but with the A’s accustomed to the October spotlight, it is hard to see Chicago advancing.
No series sets up better for an upset than the Cincinnati Reds playing in Truist Park against the Atlanta Braves. The Braves won the National League East in which three of five teams underperformed expectations. The Reds struggled in the early part of the season but finished strong as Trevor Bauer made his case for the Cy Young. The Braves can bash the ball, but their pitching is thin. Other than Max Fried, Atlanta has nobody that they can depend on. The Reds pitching is strong; their lineup is productive, and Bauer is hot, which is trouble for the Braves.
The Minnesota Twins had one wish this postseason that they did not have to see the Yankees in the Wild Card Series. By winning the Central Division, they have pulled that off. The Houston Astros are 29-31 and thankful for Rob Manfraud’s everlasting faith and devotion as they may not be in the postseason otherwise. The Astros are not the same team they were last year, the pitching is depleted, and the offense suddenly is lost without the cheating system. The Twins have a record 16-straight postseason losses, that will end here as they bash the Astros into oblivion.
The Miami Marlins are the biggest surprise in the postseason. Coming off a 105-loss season, the Marlins were in pandemic hell as they were shut down for a week with 18 players in quarantine. The Marlins had to find players ever where they could to fill their roster, and somehow they managed to hold on to second place all season and slipped into the postseason for the first time in 17 years. The Chicago Cubs won the Central Division but have not impressed down the stretch. They are vulnerable and will be put to the test. This could be one of the better series, but with Yu Darvish leading the way, expect the Cubs to advance.
It is going to be one long winter in the Bronx. The New York Yankees, who were an overwhelming World Series favorite, often played underwhelming baseball. The lineup that was expected to destroy the baseball has had prolonged slumps as injuries, and inconsistent play have been the norm. The Cleveland Indians had had their ups and downs, but Shane Beiber has been the one consistent, as 2020’s most dominant pitcher. The Yankees don’t have anyone to match Beiber, and their usually reliable bullpen as been leaky. Expect the series to be close, but the Indians t advance, as the Yankees need to answer some serious questions.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been baseball’s busiest team playing several doubleheaders in September to make up for their extended COVID break in August. The Cardinals were fortunate they did not need two more games as they got some help to get in the playoffs. Record wise the San Diego Padres are the second-best team in the National League at 37-23. They have a terrific lineup led by Fernando Tatis Jr. They have some injury concerns as Mike Clevinger left his final start early; however, in this short three-game format, they should be able to hold off a tired Cardinals team.