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MLB Postseason 2016 Wildcard Games Preview



October is here and so are the MLB Playoffs. After a  grueling 162 game season, four teams set out to play game 163 for the right to advance to the divisional round. The Baltimore Orioles will head to Toronto, Canada, to take on the Blue Jays, and the San Francisco Giants will make the trip to New York to face the Mets. Let’s break down the matchups.

Baltimore at Toronto 8 P.M. TBS (Blue Jays tickets from Razorgator)

With the Os having led the league in home runs hit this season and the Blue Jays fourth, Tuesday night’s game will be all about offense. The heart of the Toronto order includes Edwin Encarnacion, who is tied with David Oritz for most RBI in the American League (127), as well as Josh Donaldson, who led the team by drawing 109 walks this season. That’s really good news for the Blue Jays, since the Orioles will send starter Chris Tillman to the mound. He sits in MLB’s bottom-25 pitchers in terms of walks allowed, and has posted a less-than-stellar 2.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. In fact, that’s even more good news for the Blue Jays, who, as a team, have drawn the second-most walks per game in all of baseball this season, behind only the Chicago Cubs. So in short, Chris Tillman allows a lot of walks, the Blue Jays draw a lot of walks. Point Toronto.

On the other side of the ball, though, the Orioles still appear to have an advantage, despite Tillman’s pitfalls in terms of walks. Should both team’s offense fall short, the Orioles’ bullpen will be a huge factor. They led the American League this season, with relievers posting a 3.41 ERA. Baltimore closer Zach Britton was stellar this season with just one home run allowed and not a single save blown. Point Baltimore. The O’s clearly will look to implement the Kansas City formula here. Five strong innings then hand it over to the stellar bullpen.

So, as the old baseball adage goes, home field wins postseason games. That could prove to be even more accurate in this game, which features the only American League playoff team with a losing road record in the Orioles (39-42 on the road this season). Donaldson and the Blue Jays get to Tillman early, Stroman pitches a good game, and Roberto Osuna shuts the door to send Toronto to the division series against the Rangers.

Prediction: Blue Jays win  6-4 

San Francisco  vs  New York Mets  8:pm  ESPN (Mets tickets from Razorgator)

This is going to be a good old pitchers duel. These two teams had to work hard and overcome alot of adversity to get here. San Francisco may be high on a four-game win streak to finish out the regular season, but the Mets have been riding a 18-11 wave since Sept. 1.

The Mets have gotten to this point in large part thanks to the ageless wonder Bartolo Colon, and surprising contributors Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. But on Wednesday  night, New York will send one of the best pitchers in the MLB ,Noah Syndergaard to the mound to begin the pursuit of defending the National League pennant. Syndergaard has electric stuff and his only real issues this year came against teams that could exploit his inability to hold base runners. But that is not the Giants game. They do not have much speed as a team other than Eduardo Nunez. If Thor can keep Nunez off base, he should have a good night. The blueprint for Terry Collins is to go Syndergaard, to Addison Reed, to Jeurys Familia. If those three are the only Mets pitchers who see the moundWednesday night, they will be in good shape.

Madison Bumgarner has already become a playoff legend in San Francisco after his performance that led them to winning the 2014 World Series. Bumgarner has not pitched exceptionally well down the stretch, but that can all be thrown out now that the playoffs are here. Bumgarner is the ultimate competitor and Bruce Bochy is not going to be worried about him. What Bochy is going to worry about is the bullpen, which has been a dumpster fire in the second half of the season. Sergio Romo has somewhat settled into the closer role, but if Bumgarner can’t be the one to give the ball to Romo, the Giants are going to have some issues. MadBum may need to go all nine for the Giants to win this one.

The Mets lineup has gotten surprising great hitting from Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, and late-season call-up TJ Rivera. Jay Bruce has even gotten hot in the last few games. But what the New York offense really boils down to is Yoenis Cespedes. He has captured the hearts of Mets fans the past two seasons and has a chance to cement his New York legacy with a big hit or two against Bumgarner. The game plan for the Mets has to be to work Bumgarner’s pitch count and try to get into the bullpen. With Syndergaard on the mound, the Mets won’t need a lot of runs to win the game, so if Cespedes or Bruce can put one in the bleachers, they’ll be sitting pretty.  Really think this might come down to strong bullpen play. The Mets have the clear cut advantage there.

Prediction : Mets  4- Giants 3

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