It’s October, which means one thing. The MLB playoffs are here! Yes, after a grueling 162 games that started back in April, the strong have survived, and we get to watch these wildcard teams play a one game play-in while your significant other is drinking a pumpkin spice latte and watching Hocus Pocus.
For the American League, it’s the Yankees and the Astros. Many people predicted that the Yankees would finish at the bottom of the AL East and that Baltimore and Boston would be running away with the division. Turns out that the Yankees and the Blue Jays are in the playoffs, and the Red Sox and the O’s are scheduling tee times at the local golf course.
Then there’s the Houston Astros. Yes, the Astros are in the playoffs. Yes, the Astros are in the American League now. Nobody thought that Houston would come close to winning more than a handful of games, but they’re in as the #2 wildcard.
Then there’s the National League. Or should I just say, the National League Central. After the Cardinals finished atop the division with 100 wins, the Pirates and Cubs are left to play the one game wildcard play-in. Although both of those teams are by far and away on a different level than division winners L.A. and the Mets.
Many people predicted the Pirates to be in this position, but not as many thought that the Cubbies would be here as well. The Cubs put together one of the most impressive second halves of a season in MLB history, and here they are. That magical place that Cubs fans only dream of in the off-season…the playoffs.
AL Wildcard: The Yankees will be at home starting Masahiro Tanaka against Houston’s ace, Dallas Keuchel. The Astros are young and have great defense and hitting, while the Yankees are old and have been slumping. At the end of the day, Tanaka thrives in big moments, and the aura of Yankee Stadium in October will be too much for Houston to handle. This means that the Astros are going home, and the Yankees move on.
NL Wildcard: Pittsburgh will have Gerrit Cole take their home mound against Chicago’s Jake Arrieta. Both teams are pretty much evenly matched across the board, but the Buccos playoff crowd is absolutely electric. Just ask Johnny Cueto when he had to take the mound against Pittsburgh in the 2013 wildcard play-in game. Cubs’ Arrieta won’t let the crowd get to him, and he’s virtually unhittable. Cubs move on to the divisional round, and that much closer to finally winning that elusive World Series.