MLB Postseason is locked down WildCard Edition

Posted: October 3, 2016 by souldysfunction in General Sports Rant, MLB
Tags: , , , ,

First I’m totally ignoring the fact I haven’t written on here in a while.

Today was 162 of the MLB season. There were a couple battles on the line to try to make it 163 but those would come up just short.

So what did we end up with? Should we just give the Cubs the trophy? Will Papi walk away with a title or just come back next year because he can?

Wildcard games shape up like this:
Baltimore Orioles at the Toronto BlueJays
and
San Fransisco Giants at the New York Mets

Since those are the first two games(Tuesday and Wednesday night) I’ll talk about them first. Orioles/BlueJays is going to be battle of the Homeruns. Both these teams live and die with the long ball. Baltimore has the record this season with 251 HR’s in 2016 but Toronto is right there in fourth place this season with 220 HR’s. Honestly both teams batting stats are pretty damn close to each other, where one has a slight lead in one category the other has a slight lead in a different one. The big difference is in triples where Toronto has 18 this season and only 6 for Baltimore.

Batting – Tie since we like the long ball

With batting so close I have to look at fielding and pitching to get some sense of who is going to pull this out. Pitching is where I think this game is going to be decided. If you look at the numbers it almost looks like a glaring mismatch. Toronto is ranked 6th overall in pitching for the season and Baltimore is 19th but that really doesn’t tell the whole story. The Wins/Loss record is the exact same 88 and 73. Baltimore actually has 54 saves while Toronto only has 42, all this means is Baltimore has won more close games then Toronto. Wait is that all this means though? Sorta. Baltimore has one of the premier closers out there Zach Britton. Dude is insane and has a 0.55ERA with 47 out of 47 saves. If you have ever watched this guy pitch they talk about how incredible his sinker is especially how hard he throws.
Can you guess why I’m hyping this portion here?

Closer – Baltimore

I know Toronto has Osuna and he is pretty good but he is not Britton. If this game is close in the 8th inning Baltimore has a HUGE advantage. What about getting to the 8th inning you ask? Toronto has the advantage in starting pitchers, and they are probably bringing Marcus Stroman in to pitch the wildcard game if they go on regular rest. Stroman pitched last on Sept 29th in a loosing effort giving up 4ER in 7 innings. Now they could bring back J.A. Happ on short 3 day rest. Happ is their 20 game winner this season with a 3.18ERA while Stroman is 9 and 10 with a 4.37 ERA. Now Happ has not pitched on short rest all season per Baseball-Reference.com so it could be a really sketchy call to suddenly make him do it. Assuming, which I hate to do, that Stroman is the starter then I believe it definitely gives the advantage to Baltimore since their ace Tillman would be on regular rest plus a day to start this game. Tillman has pitched against Toronto 4 times this season with one win and three no decisions with the last game just last week on the 28th where he went 5.2 innings and only gave up 1 run. Here is a monkey wrench though, Liriano for the BlueJays. He pitched opposite Tillman on the 28th and actually out pitched him with 6 innings of no hit ball. Does Gibbons think he can have that kind of lightning in a bottle again? Maybe… It’s still listed as TBD so it is anyone’s guess.

Starting pitching – Baltimore because of Tillman being on regular rest and Stroman being the regular rest starter for the BlueJays.

Bullpen – Orioles because Britton of course.

Who is gonna win? Baltimore Orioles

There is is my pick even though I like the passion Toronto’s players and fan base has I think the Orioles are just set up better for the one game play in then the BlueJays are.

The other wildcard game San Fran at the Mets

It is an even numbered year so should I even talk about this game? Well yeah because this isn’t the Giants of the last couple years. Now if you had said at the All-Star break that the Giants would have an EPIC collapse the rest of the season and be playing for the wildcard game on game 162 I would have laughed at you. The Giants had the best record in baseball going into the All-Star weekend 57 and 33, this even topped the Cubs record at that point. However the Giants players never made it back from the festivities in San Diego and Bruce Bochy had to field the first 45 fans that entered the stadium. A miserable 30 and 42 is how the second half went for them, worst in baseball. Normally it’s worst to first but in this case the Giants decided to reverse it just to make headlines I guess. Injuries definitely had a hand in San Frans terrible record but that wasn’t the only factor, major slumps, starting pitching that was at times little league, and a bullpen that decided not to throw with their arms. Not to even mention the abysmal closer by committee they have had to adopt. Casilla who blew 9 saves this season was just a part of the closing woes, the entire team combined blew 32 saves this season. To put that in perspective Casilla had only 31 saves all season and he was the designated ‘closer’. If you can’t hold the league late you aren’t going to win many games, sadly the Giants thought they needed to prove this was true.

Lets not leave out the Mets in the conversation of under performing however. Coming into the season the Mets pitching staff was supposed to be the cream of the crop and flat out dominate the entire league. Instead all the young arms found themselves finding the injured list more then the strike zone. Harvey (I have referred to him not as the Dark Knight but as Two Face in prior articles) goes down for the season, Mats on and off the injury list as many times as Sam Adams has seasonal brews, and deGroms forearm needing surgery. This left Bartolololo The Ageless Wonder Colon and a Thor without his hammer to hold this team together for a majority of the season. Syndergaard hasn’t averaged 6 innings a game this season (31 games at 183.2 innings) leaving the bullpen to pick up at least 4 innings a game. This is down from 6.25 innings per game average last season. Thor is an incredible pitcher, velocity and movement really never seen before by a starting pitcher. This is where his weakness is. He pitches like a relief pitcher, every pitch is 105% effort, leaving nothing in the tank to go deep in a game. Yes the guy is incredible, as his nickname hints at, but when you can only last 5 innings a game and your bullpen isn’t lights out you set your team up for the possibility of failing. Syndergaard had 7 no decisions this season in his 30 started games and 14 and 9 record. Now Big Sexy at 42 has had one of his best years of his career after a great season last year. No-one, except me as I kept him on my fantasy baseball team at a higher then average price, expected Colon to have such a great season. However once again the ageless one showed his arm is still half the rest of his bodies age. While he also only lasted under 6 innings per game average and every now and then he gave up a ton of runs in a game he really helped lead a injury plagued team to the playoffs. He even got his first homerun and two hit game this season, Go Big Sexy Go. As bad as the Giants closer situation has been the Mets have shined. Jeurys Familia converted 51 of 56 save opportunities and only 4 other pitchers on the roster have a save. Since Familia stepped on to the mound to close out games the guy is crazy good. Yes I know you’re going to bring up the postseason last year and point out his issues. I won’t deny he looked sketchy last season in the playoffs but he was also put into some really difficult positions coming in with multiple men on late in games on top of the fact it was his first postseason bright lights as the closer. I definitely expect better from him this post season.

The confirmed matchup of Syndergaard and Bumgarner in the wild card game should be pretty darn awesome to watch. Both guys are not afraid of anything and both can hit. The question is how far into the game can Syndergaard go and will we see the Bumgarner from last post season or the one from this season that has looked human?

Starting Pitching – Tie both starters are and can be super heroes

Bullpen/Closer – New York Mets

I could go into the at the bat woes for San Fran and New York however both teams have looked much better as players have gotten healthy and inserted back into the lineup. Something I find very odd is that the Mets go how Cespedes goes. We all know what Cespedes can do at home plate, the man won back to back homerun derbys. His WAR (wins above replacement) is 2.9 and he has 31 homeruns this season. However his out field play reminds me of Yasil Puig sometimes, where he can make spectacular plays if he wants to but sometimes chooses to take the play off and not give it the kind of effort we teach our kids to. That being said you can’t really argue with the way the Mets play with him in the lineup. The other spark plug surprisingly is Jose Reyes who was picked up after his Colorado stint was cut short by legal problems. I’ve heard many commentators suggest he should have never left the Mets in the first place. With Cespedes and Reyes in the line up the Mets offense have looked really good the last part of the season, even if they are rated below the Giants overall offense numbers. The Giants offense is very suspect… while they generate runs 715 this season only 130 were homeruns where the Mets run total was 671 with 218 homeruns.

Offense – New York Mets

Defense normally isn’t something glamorous to talk about and a lot of people skip it but in this game I think it is going to really play a part. Especially since the Giants are listed as overall numbers best defense in the league. My gut, which my daughter likes to refer as huge, tells me if there is any place the Giants could steal this game it’s on the field with some incredible plays. Crawford has some of the fastest reflexes and instincts I’ve ever seen.

Fielding – San Fransisco Giants

Who’s gonna win? I’m more 54/46 on this however I’m going to pick the New York Mets. I think that with their homerun power and lock down closer they are going to just out slug the Giants defense.

There we have it my picks for the Wildcard games. The Orioles will advance to play what will be the heavy favorite Rangers and the Mets will head to Chi-town and the steam roller that is the Cubs.

Stay tuned for the rest of my MLB Playoff picks

SD Signature

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