Wild Card Weekend
Saturday, October 08 2022 @ 11:00 PM EDT
Contributed by: Magpie
This is now the Boss Thread, at least until I drop the Report Card. Like an anvil on my foot.
Four games Friday, four games Saturday, and however many are needed on Sunday to settle what needs to be settled.
The fun begins in Cleveland, shortly after high noon.
Tampa Bay at Cleveland
The Guardians won the season series 4-2, taking two of three in Tampa Bay at the end of July, and two of three in their home park in late September. It was a low scoring matchup (Cleveland scored 22 runs in the six games, Tampa Bay scored 18) and the last three games in Cleveland were all decided by a single run. Cleveland is hot and the Rays are not. Tampa Bay closed their season by losing 7 of 8; Cleveland won 24 of their last 30 games. But that doesn't matter now.
The NL gets underway next....
Philadelphia at St. Louis
One assumes that the Cardinals are everyone's sentimental choice - it's the last roll call for Yadier Molina and Albert (the Great) Pujols. These teams played 7 games in 11 days at the beginning of July, and Philadelphia won four of them. But that was still the first half of the season, and we all need to pause and gape in wonder at what Albert Pujols did in the second half of the year. He hit .323/.388/.715 with 18 HR and 48 RBI in 56 games. This actually happened. We might note that he did that to LH pitchers all year long (.351/.400/.746), but come on - the guy is 42 years old. The Cardinals needed it, too - Paul Goldschmidt, who seemed to be cruising to the MVP, and challenging for the Triple Crown, hit just .245 with 2 HRs in September.
Then comes the one we're especially interested in. (It will get its own Dedicated Thread shortly before Game Time!)
Seattle at Toronto
The Jays took two of three from the Mariners back in May, behind strong outings from Kikuchi and Berrios - but the Jays were floundering when they went to Seattle in early July. They'd just lost five of six to Tampa Bay and Oakland (!) - the Mariners swept a four game set and basically sealed Charlie Montoyo's fate. We might note that two of the pitchers taking the loss for Toronto in those games were Anthony Banda and Sergio Romo. Oh, it was a strange time.
And it all wraps up in the Big Apple
San Diego at New York
I think this is, on the face of it, easily the most lopsided matchup of the weekend. I think the Padres are lucky to still be playing, and the Mets are unlucky that they even have to play in this round. But San Diego took two of three games on both occasions when they met this season. Yu Darvish beat Tajuan Walker and Max Scherzer; Sean Manea and Blake Snell beat Chris Bassitt. Jacob de Grom did not pitch against the Padres during the regular season. He surely will this weekend.
Here's the thing - anything can happen. Two games out of three? Pittsburgh went into Dodger Stadium this season and swept three games, and Mitch White only started one of them. Miami went into Houston and took two out of three. Anything can happen. Fans will still measure the success of the season in large part on what happens this weekend and after, but on one random weekend....
So I wouldn't dream of trying to guess what's going to happen. The four teams with home field this weekend are all deserving of that singular advantage, and each should be regarded as the "favourite" but any best-of-three is an Invitation to Chaos. I think the real winners are the four teams that don't have to pass through this dreadful gauntlet. I think this system is providing a very real reward to the two best teams in each league, and I approve.