Last week's Wild Card round was nothing short of awesome. We got a 13 inning game between two of the league's best pitchers and a 10-9 shootout with countless lead changes which was in my opinion, the best game of the year. I went 4/8 on my predictions with both of my big underdogs losing, the Reds and White Sox, but I’m feeling good about this round after seeing all these teams play in the Wild Card round.
Yankees V Rays
The Rays did what was expected of them in the Wild Card round, sweeping the Blue Jays 2-0 in a series where they displayed how good their pitching staff is, giving up a total of three runs in the series. As for the Yankees, they dominated AL Cy Young favorite Shane Bieber as he gave up seven runs over five innings of work and in a very weird game two which featured two rain delays, the offense went to work again posting ten runs on the team many thought had the best bullpen in the league. Gio Urshela was the MVP as he hit a grand slam off of James Karinchak and turned an incredible double play in the eighth inning which arguably won them the game. As these two teams meet in San Diego to play, let's look back on the season series, where the Rays dominated, winning eight out of their ten meetings. These two teams do not like each other, benches cleared once already after both teams were purposely throwing pitches at each other, including a 100 MPH fireball from Aroldis Chapman which almost blew Michael Brosseu’s head off. This series is what every baseball fan wants to see and it is must see TV. The Rays will have the pitching advantage in all the games Cole doesn’t pitch, but in every game, the Yankees lineup will be better than the Rays by a big margin and because of this, I expect the Yankees to win in five as Gerrit Cole will pitch twice and the Rays will struggle to keep up with the Yankees offense. The big X factor is the Yankees bullpen and how Aaron Boone will manage it. We know the hitting is there, it's just up to the pitching to back it up. As for the Rays, their X factor is the opposite, we know the bullpen is solid, it's just up to the offense to score some runs. This is a match made in Heaven and I can’t be more excited.
Astros V Athletics
Well the 29-31 Astros are in the divisional round and as much as I hate to say it, they deserve it, their pitching was outstanding and they made the Twins bullpen look like a mess. As much as I hate to see them here, I actually see them winning this series as well. The Astros are one of the best teams in the league versus lefties and they will see both Luzardo and Manaea in this series, making them very dangerous. The Athletics offense did not impress me at all, they got extremely lucky in game three as Rick Renteria did a horrible job managing the bullpen and it seemed like whoever he chose couldn’t throw a strike to save their lives. Like I already said, the Astros pitching was outstanding versus a Twins offense which is easily better than the A’s especially without Matt Chapman. Yes, the A’s dominated the season series as they won seven out of ten meetings, but this actually makes me like the Astros more as they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder and even more so as they are seeking approval around the MLB to prove they can still compete without cheating. Once again, we have a Yankees Astros ALCS.