MLB Wild-Card Race Predictions

Story posted September 18, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Zech Lambert

Ever since the MLB added the wild-card game in 2012, the chase for the postseason has been more intense than ever before, and this season is no different. With each wild-card race essentially down to three teams, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Let’s try to answer those questions with our MLB wild-card predictions.

American League
In the AL, only the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians have a real shot at the two wild-card spots. As it currently stands, the A’s are a game and a half ahead of the Rays for the top spot, and the Indians are a game and a half behind the Rays. The A’s have the most favorable remaining schedule of the three teams, as none of the remaining teams that they play are above .500. Oakland is almost a lock to grab one of the two spots. The Rays’ schedule is the toughest of the three, as they still have to play the Dodgers and Yankees, two World Series favorites. However, the team has been hot as of late. Couple that with the return of 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and their current game-and-a-half lead, and the Rays have enough for them to hold on and claim the second wild-card spot.

The Indians just got plain unlucky this year. After all, they did lose Carlos Carrassco for some time, and they even wound up trading away Trevor Bauer. Shane Bieber has emerged as this team’s best pitcher, and while the Indians could win 93 to 95 games, it won’t be enough to reach the wild-card spot. As for the single-game playoff between Oakland and Tampa Bay, the edge goes to the Athletics. They’ve been having a magical year, and they will finally break their wild-card game curse by defeating the Rays.

Prediction: Rays vs. Athletics
Winner: Athletics

National League
With the Mets and Phillies fading fast, the NL wild-card race is starting to narrow. The Nationals are currently starting a big series with the Cardinals, and they finish off their season with the Indians. Although that’s not an easy finish, their starting pitching and the lethal combination of left fielder Juan Soto and third baseman Anthony Rendon (a strong contender for NL MVP) is too strong to ignore. The Nationals will take the top wild-card spot.

The NL Central is an interesting bag, as the Cubs and Cardinals still play each other seven times. Even without Christian Yelich, the Brewers should take advantage of these two teams beating up on each other by winning the division. Even though the Cubs bullpen has been shaky this year, it’s been good lately, and that will be key to helping them claim the second wild-card spot over the Cardinals. However, the Nats will have already had a playoff spot locked up long before the Cubs, which will allow Max Scherzer time to rest before he starts against, and defeats, the Cubs.

Prediction: Cubs vs. Nationals
Winner: Nationals

 

Zech Lambert is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email zbl5146@psu.edu.