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Wild Card!

Wild Card!

Wild Card!

It’s a new season for four teams starting today.  

After 161 games the Red Sox and Rays are tied for the AL Wild Card and the Cardinals and Braves are tied for the NL Wild Card.

Wild Card Always SunnyThe Wild Card is an interesting thing - Anything can happen.  In one of the craziest (and most offensive) episodes of Always Sunny the gang comes up with roles while trying to solve to gas crisis.  Mac is the brains, Dennis is the looks, Frank is the muscle, and they deem Charlie as the Wild Card.  The reason Charlie is the Wild Card is because he doesn’t excel in any of those traits, but he’s crazy so he’s bound to do anything.  At the end of the episode the gang is driving around with barrels of gasoline in their van trying to bootleg and Mac realizes that the brakes aren’t working.   Mac yells, “Why aren’t the breaks working?” Charlie (now dressed like a cowboy for some reason) yells, “Because I cut them! Wild Card, b*tches! Yeehaw!”  and he jumps out the back of the van.  I’m not really sure why, except for this - anything can happen with the Wild Card, it’s unpredictable.

So what about today? What’s going to happen?  On Sept. 1, the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox each held 8 1/2-game leads in the Wild Card races.  So both teams are sinking ships.  Let’s take a look at each teams chances today.

The Cardinals

Chris CarpenterThe Cardinals are pitching Chris Carpenter against the Astros and Brett Myers.  It appears that the Cardinals will be facing the Astros without Matt Holliday.  The Astros are going to end the season with the worst record in baseball, so the Cardinals shouldn’t be too worried.  The Astros home record is actually worse than the Cardinals away record, so no great advantage there.  Carpenter has a 3.59 ERA and has given up 11 runs this month in 37 innings with a h/9 under 1.  He has 26 strikeouts and 7 walks.  Brett Myers has had an even better month, giving up just 5 runs in 31.1 innings this month.  He also has a h/9 of under 1 he has walked 3 and struck out 24.   

My prediction:

I expect the Cardinals to win but Myers could pull a Tim Thomas (hockey) and stand on his head.

The Braves

The Braves are sending Tim Hudson to the mound against the Phillies and Blanton.

Hudson has put up solid numbers once again but the Phillies are the only team that won over 100 games.  Blanton will start and pitch a couple innings, Hamels is expected to pitch and Kyle Kendrick is expected to get some work too.  Chance are one of those guys won’t have his stuff.  It’s tricky to have success when you script your pitching situation before the same.  With all that said the Phillies lineup is dangerous, but I couldn’t imagine all of their starters playing.  

My prediction:

I expect the Braves to win but it could really go either way.

If there is a one-game playoffs tomorrow with the way the Cardinals are playing vs. the way the Braves are playing, I expect the Cardinals to win that.  So either way, I expect the Cardinals to make the playoffs.

The Red Sox

Jon LesterThe Red Sox are throwing their ace Jon Lester vs the Orioles and Alfredo Simon.

Lester has not had a great month - His last start against the Yankees he lasted 2.2 innings and gave up 8 runs.  On top of that, he’s pitching on short rest.  Only twice in his last 5 starts has Lester pitched more than 5 innings.  Simon hasn’t pitched much better - He pitched 10.1 more innings and given up 7 more runs than Lester.   The Red Sox have a lethal lineup but most of the pieces are missing.  The club leaders in RBI this month are Ellsbury and Scutaro.  Last night they got saved by a catcher making his first start behind the plate in Ryan Lavarnway - Lavarnway had his first two home runs and drove in 4 of the Sox 8 RBI.  It’s expected that Saltalamacchia will be healthy again tonight, but why wouldn’t they start Lavarnway again?  

My prediction:

Everything is pointing towards the Red Sox winning, so I would bet on them too.  I’m just not as confident as I was before.

The Rays

Sorianooooooo!!  The indebted Ray.  I remember in 2003 the Yankees lost their best middle reliever to the Red Sox.  That year Ramiro Mendoza put up a 6.75 ERA for the Red Sox and he was referred to as the indebted Yankee.  Last night the Rays were losing to the Yankees before the Rays former closer gave up the lead to the Rays.  Tonight the Rays are pitching their ace David Price against the mystery pitcher that the Yankees throw out.  The Yankees have no reason to play, much like the Phillies, won’t have all of their starters in the line up.  

My prediction:

David PriceThe Rays should win, but the Yankees are so good that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they pull out the win.

If there is a one-game playoffs tomorrow I 100% expect the Rays to beat the Red Sox.  So I expect the Red Sox to win the Wild Card today, but if they don’t win the Wild Card today, they will lose it to the Rays tomorrow.

Now the thing is, the Yankees should want to win and here’s why.  The Red Sox are done.  Even if they make the playoffs, they have no pitching.  There are rumors that Clay Buchholz could be ready for the playoffs, but that would be asking a lot from him.  Even if the Sox make the playoffs, how far can they really go?  The Rays on the other hand, they have Price, Shields, Hellickson, Niemann.  Plus they have Matt Moore and Wade Davis.  With pitching like that, just getting into the playoffs, anything could happen.

Same with Atlanta - Wouldn’t the Phillies prefer the Braves limping in than the Cardinals coming in strong.  I’m sure teams don’t think like that though - They can’t, they are competitors - But I’m just saying.

If either of those races end in a tie, there will be a one-game playoff tomorrow.  Talk about exciting baseball.  Talk about a heart attack waiting to happen.  Let’s not forget, if baseball expands to having two Wild Cards, we wouldn’t get this excitement.

Wild Card, B*tches! Yeehaw!

There is also home field on the line today.  

Prince Fielder Home Run CelebrationThe 2nd place spot in both leagues are still up for grabs.  The Diamondbacks made a six-run 10th-inning comeback topped by a Ryan Roberts walk off grand slam.  The Brewers are a win away from clinching the 2nd place spot.  The Diamondbacks need to win and need a Brewers loss to claim the 2nd spot. The Brewers are 65-24 at home and 39-42 on the road while the D-Backs are 51-29 at home and 43-38 on the road - So Home field is much more important to the Brewers this year.

The Brewers are pitching Greinke vs the Pirates’ Locke and The D-Backs are pitching Saunders against the Dodgers’ Lilly.

Neither will know their opponent until the Wild Card is determined.

In the AL, Texas is one game ahead of Detroit.  If the Rangers lose and the Tigers win, the Tigers hold the tie breaker based on their head-to-head victories.  Texas is slightly better at home this year so it’s probably more important to Texas but I’m sure neither team wants to face the Yankees.  

The Rangers are pitching Harrison vs the Angels’ Richards and the Tigers are throwing Porcello against the Indians’ McAllister.

Whichever team finishes in 2nd will face the Wild Card because the Wild Card is coming from the AL East.  I’m sure that the Yankees are rooting to not face Justin Verlander.

All the baseball fans should be glued to their television today, as this is one of the most important baseball days we’ve seen in a while.  What do you think will happen today?  Email me mikelavery@thebaseballpage.com

By Mike Lavery
Wednesday, 28 Sep 2011

 

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Tagged:
Alfredo Simon, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brett Myers, Chris Carpenter, Clay Buchholz, Cole Hamels, David Price, Detroit Tigers, Garrett Richards, Houston Astros, Jacoby Ellsbury, James Shields, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jeff Locke, Jeff Niemann, Jeremy Hellickson, Joe Blanton, Joe Saunders, Jon Lester, Justin Verlander, Kyle Kendrick, Los Angeles Dodgers, Marco Scutaro, Matt Harrison, Matt Holliday, Matt Moore, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rafael Soriano, Ramiro Mendoza, Rick Porcello, Ryan Roberts, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Ted Lilly, Texas Rangers, Tim Hudson, Wade Davis, Wild Card, Zach McAllister, Zack Greinke

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