October means cooler weather, leaves falling, and baseball’s postseason!! Here is a preview of the Wild Card Games Tuesday and Wednesday:
Houston @ New York 7 PM (ESPN)
The Houston Astros are finally returning to the postseason. One of the most surprising teams may not have won the division but have a great young core.
Dallas Keuchel will be pitching on short rest. The southpaw has been fantastic posting a 20-8 record with a 2.48 ERA in 33 starts. Hopefully he will not get nervous playing on the big stage.
The trade that brought Carlos Gomez has helped to provide some veteran leadership to a young core of good players Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Jed Lowrie.
The Yankees have all of the postseason history. News today about CC Sabathia was surprising. For a team that returns to the postseason for the first time since 2012, they will have Masahiro Tanaka (12-7 3.51 ERA in 24 games) taking the mound.
The last time these two teams met this happened:
As it seems to happen a few times every season it involved Carlos Gomez. It will be interesting to see if there is still a little bad blood from this.
The Yankees are coming into this game losing 7 out of their last 8 games including avoiding a 4 game sweep against their rival Boston Red Sox at home. Not good.
Ironically in the video above Dallas Keuchel pitched a great game that in the Bronx tossing 7 scoreless innings in a 15-1 thumping.
You have one team happy to be here and one team trying to continue a tradition of greatness in October. In this game though I think Houston is not just happy to be here, they have something to prove (especially since losing out in the AL West division title). The Yankees while they have Alex Rodriguez and a core of veterans, are arguably the worst of all the postseason teams making it this year. And let’s be honest, they have steadily struggled since falling from the AL East division title picture to the last week of the season. You usually surge into the postseason, not limp.
I think Houston moves on
Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh 7 PM TBS
Welcome back Chicago Cubs. On a side note: Its a shame that the three best teams in the baseball have to play each other where only one will make it to the NLCS.
This has to be the most intriguing of the Wild Card games. Both teams know each other. Both teams have traded wins all year. Jake Arrieta who in my mind should be the NL Cy Young winner has pitched amazing since June. He is 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA.
The Pirates will go with Gerrit Cole (19-8 2.60 ERA).
These two teams are very even in my opinion so that is why this game is so tough to predict. You have the Pirates vets like Neil Walker, Starling Marte, and Andrew McCutchen vs young Cubbies like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber. I think this will be a low scoring game and runs will be at a premium.
The Pirates play very well at home going 53-28. The Cubs are the best road team in baseball going 48-33. It actually might be a blessing in disguise that they are playing on the road. I think there is a chance the Cubs would have been playing a little tight in this game if it was at home.
Arrieta is going to have to pitch deep into this game because as some people who know me, I nicknamed the Cubs bullpen “#bullpenroulette” because you never know what you will get when Joe Maddon goes to them.
Cole does not necessarily have to pitch deep into this game because the Pirates bullpen is the best in baseball. The team leads the league with a 2.67 ERA.
I think if you have these teams play this series every day in October, it would be 15-15 heading into a tiebreaker on October 31st. They are that even. If the Cubs don’t have to go deep into their bullpen, I see them moving on.
I will go with the Cubs.