The stage is set, the 2022 MLB Playoffs are almost here. This is how it looks:
Byes – Houston Astros (1) and New York Yankees (2)
Wild Card Series – Seattle Mariners (5) vs Toronto Blue Jays (4), Tampa Bay Rays (6) vs Cleveland Guardians (3)
Byes – Los Angeles Dodgers (1) and Atlanta Braves (2)
Wild Card Series – San Diego Padres (5) vs New York Mets (4), Philadelphia Phillies (6) @ St. Louis Cardinals (3)
Here, we break down all four Wild Card series – which are set to commence on Friday, October 7 – including our best bets for each matchup.
Seattle Mariners vs Toronto Blue Jays
The Mariners are coming off of a high walking off into the postseason for the first time since 2001. For reference, Ichiro Suzuki was a rookie, Barry Bonds was still six years away from breaking the all time home run record, and “Fallin” by Alicia Keys was the number one song in the United States the last time the Mariners made the playoffs. Needless to say, this has been a long time coming.
Do not let that fool you; the Mariners are a very good team. They will finish the 2022 season with 90 wins and a strong record away from Seattle, which will come in handy not only in this series but throughout the playoffs if they do make it out of the Wild Card round. The Mariners will likely line up Logan Gilbert, reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray, and Luis Castillo in their three-game set against the Blue Jays, who are a very good team in their own right.
After a spectacular 2021 season highlighted by Vladmir Gurerro Jr’s 48 home runs, the Jays got off to a slow start this year. On July 13 the team decided to part ways with Charlie Montoyo after a 46-42 start in favor of John Schnider as interim manager. It was this change in leadership that helped the Jays go 45-27 the rest of the way and lock up the first Wild Card in an extremely competitive AL East. Toronto will send out Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, and Hyun-Jin Ryu for this series.
This will surely be a low-scoring series between Toronto’s first-ranked offense and Seattle’s 26th-ranked offense. We’ll give the edge to the Blue Jays because of the experience and the firepower in their lineup, but by no means is this going to be a blowout. Seattle is a very good road team and leads the season head-to-head count 5-2 against these Blue Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays to win the series
Tampa Bay Rays vs Cleveland Guardians
Here we are again. It seems like every year these two teams are projected to be in the bottom half of the league but still find a way to win. Both the Rays and the Guardians are known for their stellar front offices finding superb talent despite having a very low payroll. The Rays are 24th in the MLB and the Guardians are 28th. It is truly incredible these two teams are in this position and do not look to be going anywhere anytime soon.
While the Rays haven’t looked as dominant as in years past, they still managed to lockup a playoff spot in perhaps the best division in baseball. Four of the five AL East teams finished with winning records this season and the fifth was just a couple of games off. The ‘AL Beast’ was back better than ever this season, yet the Rays still found a way to get into the dance. Shane McClanahan will likely win the AL Cy Young Award this season, and with Tyler Glasnow and Drew Rasmussen likely to follow in this series, the Guardians are in for tough sledding.
At the start of the year, the Chicago White Sox looked like they would run away with the AL Central, but it was the Guardians who finished the 2022 season with a 10-game lead over the Sox. Cleveland somehow managed 91 wins without any household names on the team. While players like Shane Bieber and Jose Rameriez certainly help, it was the depth of the Guardians that put them where they are now. Players like Steven Kwan, Emmanuel Clase, and Amed Rosario have put the Guardians from good to very good. They will roll out Bieber, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac in this series.
We have to give the edge to the Rays in this series despite the Guardians’ magical series. The Rays have been here before and will be here again. The Guardians have certainly had a great year, but the pitching of the Rays will likely prevail in this series.
Tampa Bay Rays to win the series
San Diego Padres vs New York Mets
This is going to be a stellar series. The Padres have definitely been a little bit underwhelming dating back to the offseason they signed Manny Machado, yet they have always remained relevant. The addition of Juan Soto hasn’t provided the instant dividends that some thought it would when they traded for him this year, but it will surely help in the future. They have spent the majority of the past couple of years overshadowed by historic Dodgers team after historic Dodgers team and have yet to make any real noise in the playoffs.
With all of that being said, the back of the baseball cards are bound to show at some point. We are talking about a Padres team with Machado, Soto, Josh Bell, and Jake Cronenworth on offense and rolling out Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and Blake Snell in this three-game set with Josh Hader and Nick Martinez out of the bullpen. The Padres have the big flashy names and have as good a chance as anyone to make some noise this postseason.
The Mets had a stellar offseason yet again, highlighted by the addition of Max Scherzer and the change at the helm. Buck Showalter has proved to make a huge difference in the Mets clubhouse and has Francisco Lindor playing like the Cleveland version of himself again. Although the Mets led the NL East for all but four games this season, they find themselves in the Wild Card round.
The Mets will roll out Jacob DeGrom, Max Scherzer, and Chris Bassitt. Offense is going to be hard to come by in this one with perhaps the two best pitchers in the game going in games one and two respectively.
If the Padres had Fernando Tatis Jr, they might get the benefit of the doubt, but we don’t see them having enough offense yet to overcome DeGrom and Scherzer. Lock the Mets in to win this series.
New York Mets to win the series
Philadelphia Phillies vs St. Louis Cardinals
Similar to the Mariners, the Phillies broke the second-longest playoff drought in baseball this season. They clinched their first playoff birth since 2011 with a win over the Houston Astros a couple of nights ago. The last time the Phillies were in the playoffs they faced these same Cardinals – a game in which Ryan Howard tore his Achilles on the last out of the series, signifying the end of a historic run.
The Phillies are back in the dance and will send Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suarez to the mound in the hope of winning their first playoff series since 2010. The Phillies hold the season series against the Cardinals 4-3.
The Cardinals’ season has been the definition of magical, not least with Albert Pujols returning for the first time since leaving for the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. Pujols has experienced a career resurgence since the all-star break – a resurgence that has netted him 24 home runs in a season for the first time since 2016, and which has made him second all-time in career RBI and fourth all-time in home runs. This season will not only be Pujols’ last, but it will be Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright’s last as well. The team has taken this storyline and run miles with it.
It’s a rematch 11 years in the making set to begin Friday night. We actually like the Phillies a lot in this series. Wheeler and Nola are two of the better pitchers in baseball, and if the Phils can win the first game, we think they win the series.
Philadelphia Phillies to win the series
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