Yanks, Pirates to win wild-card games

By Steve Sell
October 06, 2015

And then there were 10 — and quickly we’ll be down to eight.

A wild weekend of Major League Baseball finalized the field for postseason play and in my mind the teams with the best records in their respective leagues won’t be meeting in the World Series, which would be a repeat of the I-70 Series of 1985.

The St. Louis Cardinals were the only team to win 100 games — 100 on the nose, in fact — but given their state of health, they are going to be done early.

The Cardinals, who have been buoyed all season by their starting pitching, will be matched against the winner of the wild-card game between Chicago and Pittsburgh, which is scheduled for Wednesday at the home of the Jolly Roger.

No matter who emerges from that game is going to handle the Cardinals, whose lifeless offense punctuated its up-and-down season by being blanked in the final three games by the lowly Atlanta Braves. 

I’ll be honest. Pittsburgh is probably the best team in baseball, but how in the world does it defeat the Cubs’ Jake Arietta on Wednesday? Arrietta has an 0.75 ERA since the All-Star break and could be this year’s Madison Bumgarner if he can his team get past the Pirates. 

I still think the Pirates find a way, though, then oust St. Louis in a four-game set.

In the other NL series — and remember these are the best-of-five – it’s pitching against pitching as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets square off. At some point Clayton Kershaw has to overcome his postseason malaise — the Cardinals have been his kryptonite the last couple of years. If Kershaw and Zack Greinke both start two games in this short series because of the off days, I like the Dodgers. The Mets have a much better offense, but their young pitchers haven’t been exposed to the postseason pressures.

In the American League, I like the Yankees to get past Houston tonight in the wild-card game. New York simply doesn’t lose at home in a winner-take-all situation and the Yankees can shorten it to a seven-inning game because of their vaunted bullpen. The Astros have been baseball’s best story in my estimation, just edging out the Cubs. They were the pick by most (including me) to finish last in their division. They hit the ball a mile and have some exciting young players. Watch for them in the future.

That would put the Yankees against Kansas City, which to me is the worst possible draw for the Royals. It’s a mental thing, as the Yankees have been inside their heads for decades and you can forget about the Royals winning a game at Yankee Stadium. If these two teams indeed meet, it’s the Yankees in four, even though New York's CC Sabathia is done for the season after announcing Monday he's entering rehab.

The other series will be the most intriguing of all. Everyone is on the Toronto bandwagon because of its ability to bludgeon teams into submission. However, I think the Rangers are this year’s Royals. They have gotten hot at the right time and can beat you so many ways. In a shocker, I’m going with the Rangers in a wild five-game series.

Once we’re down to the Final Four, we’ll revisit the situation.