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Since the rule change in 2012, Major League Baseball’s wild card game has become a second chance of sorts. Two teams who weren’t good enough to win their respective divisions get a chance to prove their worthy of the postseason. Since the inaugural games, the wild card game has produced six teams that made it to the World Series, with one (2014 San Francisco Giants) winning it. For lack of a better term, the wild card matters. This year, the New York Yankees will host the Oakland Athletic’s and the Chicago Cubs will host the Colorado Rockies with the fates of their team’s post season hanging in the midst.
National League Game:
Colorado Rockies vs Chicago Cubs
Following tough defeats in the tie breaker games for both teams, the Rockies and Cubs now sit face to face with their seasons on the line. With a solid mix of veterans and young talent, Colorado almost came back from down five against Los Angeles. Meanwhile the Cubs look to rebound after being shocked by Los Angeles last year. With their nucleus from the 2016 World Series championship team still there, they look to avenge last year’s defeat.
Players to watch:
Colorado: Shortstop Trevor Story- last year, Trevor Story got his first taste of postseason baseball, going two for four with a run batted in. If he can build upon that start, he could go from a good player to a great one. The playoffs are where good players can become great and are often the deciding factor on who is ultimately a hero. Story improved drastically over the past season and a solid postseason could be the cherry on top.
Chicago: First Baseman Anthony Rizzo- Anthony Rizzo has been nothing short of a machine since coming to the Cubs. He’s never had to be “the” guy before, however. Whether it was because of stars like third baseman Kris Bryant or outfielder Kyle Schwarber, he hasn’t gotten the love that he deserves. If his bat can be as dangerous as it was against the Milwaukee Brewers in the tie-breaker game, things could get interesting really quickly.
Prediction: Cubs beat the Rockies, 9 to 8
In most circumstances, the Rockies look better than a wild card team. That being said, on a cold, cloudy night at Wrigley Field, the Cubs come alive. Colorado has the fire power but Chicago has the pitching that can make a difference. The Rockies pitching can be erratic and in this type of game. That is last thing you want, especially against a team that will feast upon it.
American League Game:
Oakland Athletics vs New York Yankees
The Yankees and The A’s are two teams who both had incredible seasons that would get them into the playoffs in a normal year. The keywords are “in a normal year.” The Yankees, despite winning 100 games, finished in second place behind a Boston Red Sox team who had an amazing regular season. Meanwhile, the A’s, going into June 15th trailed the Seattle Mariners in the wild card race by 11 games. In a remarkable turn around, they would go 61 and 26 since and punch their ticket to Yankee Stadium. Can the Oakland A’s take down the Goliath that is the New York Yankees?
Players to watch:
Oakland: Left Fielder Khris Davis: The Major League home run leader has been nothing short of a monster. 48 home runs, 123 runs batted in and even a cool .247 is a pretty good year. If he can get solid contact on the ball, he can help take the crowd out of the game.
New York: Catcher Gary Sanchez: Gary Sanchez had a slow down year this season. After batting a dismal .186, hitting 18 home runs and even being a liability behind the plate, this game could go a long way in determining his future with the team. Add in the fact that he’s allegedly had some attitude issues and he could be in trouble. If he can’t show the Yankees something in the postseason, starting with the wild card game, his time in the Big Apple could be in jeopardy.
Prediction: Yankees beat Athletics, 8 to 3
New York has too much power and too good of bats to be denied. Going by the bats, it’s hard to deny the Yankees.