Major League Baseball's post-season tournament starts tomorrow with the AL Wild Card game between Eastern division rivals Toronto & Baltimore. On Wednesday, the Mets and San Francisco will decide who will face the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs.
Let's try to sort it all out. AL first:
AL Wild Card: Toronto vs. Baltimore: Given how slowly AL games often are played this time of year, you might want to DVR the game for the kiddo's to watch after school the next day. Winner advances to play AL West winner Texas in the Division Series. Orioles closer Zach Britton was a perfect 48-for-48 in save opportunities, best in the AL, and the last time a closer had a perfect season in saves, it was Philadelphia's Brad Lidge in 2008, leading the Phillies to the World Series title over Tampa Bay. You can't bet against Buck Showalter this time of year, despite the big bats in Toronto's lineup.
NL Wild Card: San Francisco @ Mets: The last meeting between the two clubs was also in primetime, a Sunday night game on ESPN. Noah Syndergaard, the starter and winner that night, goes for the Mets opposite Madison Bumgarner. There might be a betting line on whether or not one of them goes yard on the other. Bumgarner hit 4 homers this season to Syndergaard's 3. As much as I'd like to see the Mets advance and face the Cubs, especially considering that this is also the 30th anniversary of the Mets' last championship, I don't think it's going to happen. I hate picking against my beloved Mets, but let's also consider the October magic that comes to San Francisco in even numbered years of late.
Let's face it. Injuries have ravaged the Mets rotation, and the newest Young Guns, Robert Gsellman & Seth Lugo, would be ripe for plucking against the Cubbies.
AL Division Series:
Cleveland vs. Boston: You couldn't have written a better script. Terry Francona, who won 2 Series with the Red Sox, now tries to take Cleveland to the promised land, and their first Series appearance in nearly 20 years. Boston wants to send retiring DH David Ortiz out a winner. While people are touting both Ortiz and Mookie Betts as MVP's, they'll end up splitting the votes along with teammates Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez. Just sayin'.
Pick: Boston in 5.
Baltimore vs. Texas: The Rangers are back in the postseason, and it's almost as if it was done with mirrors. Can't see them getting any further.
Pick: Baltimore in 5.
NL Division Series:
Los Angeles vs. Washington: Two years ago, the Nationals short-circuited against---who else?---San Francisco, but it took them another year to get rid of often-inept Matt Williams. Dusty Baker has his own post-season demons to address. The Dodgers let Don Mattingly go South (Miami), but his replacement, Dave Roberts, gets to the big dance for the first time as a manager. Something tells me that with the injuries besetting them, it's not the Nationals' time yet. Again.
Pick: Los Angeles in 4.
San Francisco vs. Chicago: If Joe Maddon is to get the Cubs their first World Series title in over a century, he has to ensure there won't be any more October magic from the Giants, who still have some key players from their 2014 title team, including Bumgarner, Angel Pagan, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence. Maddon might be well served to call an exorcist.
Pick: San Francisco in 5.
We'll look at the League Championship Series next week. Of course, I could be wrong