Latest posts by Eric Urbanowicz (see all)
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The hunt for a golden October starts! 10 teams look for their chance at hoisting the commissioner’s trophy, signifying them as the World Series champions. However, it all starts with the Wild Card games.
The games start tonight when the Milwaukee Brewers go on the road to face the Washington Nationals. They continue the next day with the Oakland A’s hosting the Tampa Bay Rays.
Who wins? Who should be watched for? Here’s the Wild Card game previews:
The Milwaukee Brewers held onto the final Wild Card spot as the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks all laid claim to their spot. However, they face a red hot Washington Nationals team. Despite Milwaukee holding off four teams, Washington has been on an eight game winning streak. In six meetings, Milwaukee holds the advantage: 4-2
Players to watch:
Milwaukee: Left Fielder Ryan Braun – When right fielder Christian Yelich went down with a fractured knee cap on September 10, the wind in Milwaukees’ sails seemingly subsided. Now faced with a hard task, they’re going to need a leader to step up.
Ryan Braun hasn’t lived up to his former MVP self ever since his steroids suspension. Despite having third baseman Mike Moustakas, whose been more productive, Braun has been in Milwaukee for the last few playoff runs. He will need to be the leader.
Washington: Left Fielder Juan Soto – Starting pitcher Max Scherzer should give Washington a major advantage against the Milwaukee offense. They’re going to rely heavily on shortstop Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto to drive in runs. If these two can’t get it going, Washington is in trouble.
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers defeat the Washington Nationals, 4 to 3
Milwaukee is missing a big part of their team in Yelich and they’ll be going up against one of the top five pitchers in baseball. That said, Milwaukee’s lineup is still dangerous. It’s going to be a shoot out but their pitching should hold up and their line ups should do some damage. The mounting pressure on Washington’s manager Dave Martinez to win could see the team crumble.
The Tampa Bay Rays climbed the ranks after a rough patch by the Cleveland Indians that caused them to sputter. Now they’ll head to Oakland to face the A’s who look to punch their ticket in after falling to the New York Yankees last year in the same round. In a battle that sees two of the three finalists from last year’s manager of the year, Oakland won the season series 4-3.
Players to Watch:
Tampa Bay: Outfielder Austin Meadows – There’s a lot of younger players on this Tampa Bay team who have contributed, however Meadows looked like the team’s MVP this season. He lead the team in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. One of the biggest defining traits of a young player is how they do in big game situations. Meadows wrote a good story this year but if he wants to show he can be a next level player, he needs to have a good showing here.
Oakland: Shortstop Marcus Semien – Semien had a career year this season. He had the most RBIs, home runs and hits in his career this year. He’s going to need to be the spark in this game to get the team rolling. He’s got good bats like third baseman Matt Chapman, first baseman Matt Olson and left fielder Khris Davis around him. If he can’t help by getting on base, the power hits will become mute.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays defeat the Oakland A’s, 6 to 2
Tampa Bay is fortunate to have a very balanced line up, which while not flashy can be highly effective. Starting pitcher Charlie Morton is getting the nod, who has more wins and a lower earned run average than anyone in the Oakland starting rotation and it should be their game. Neither enters the playoffs on a hot streak but Tampa Bay may be the team to knock off Oakland.