What a crazy season it has been for Major League Baseball. The COVID-19 pandemic forced preseason games to be canceled, facilities to be closed, and the regular season to be put on hold. During all of that, the MLB and MLBPA were in a long fight about all facets of the upcoming season and a little talk about future seasons. After a long argument, an agreement came to be that the season would start on July 23rd with a 60-game schedule. At the last minute, the two parties agreed of MLB postseason expansion for this season from 10 teams to 16 teams. There was a lot of mixed emotion on that but as long as it brought back baseball, fans didn’t care. Now the regular season has come and gone but not without chaos. Teams now enter the postseason that has either had a COVID outbreak, under .500, or that has had to get in the playoffs on the last day. This MLB Postseason will be one to remember as there are a lot of interesting matchups in the NL Wild Card Round.
MLB Postseason Preview: National League Wild Card
Dodgers vs Brewers
The number-one seed Los Angeles Dodgers are yet again National League Champions. They’ve been to the World Series two of the last three years but fell short in both. The Dodgers were tired of hearing how they couldn’t get it done, so they went out and did something about it as they traded for star player Mookie Betts. They have star players all around and that led them to a 43-17 record, six more wins than the second-best team. Not only do they have a dangerous lineup but they have the pitching led by Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. The Dodgers aren’t a team to mess around with and the Milwaukee Brewers will find that out.
The Brewers snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season as the eighth seed. They went out and got depth all around the diamond except for starting pitching. Even the additions have not been enough as the offense and pitching has taken a dip. On the offensive side, Christian Yelich has had a massively down year. He put up just a .202 batting average with 12 home runs and 22 RBI’s. If this offense wants to get going, Yelich has to turn into MVP form. The starting pitching has a couple of good options, including Cy Young contender Corbin Burnes. They have been getting great performances from their ace as he is 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA. The bullpen has some great arms too including Devin Williams (0.33 ERA) and Eric Yardley (1.61 ERA). Josh Hader also is a great option in that back end of that bullpen. It’ll be tough for the Brewers as they try and get revenge from a couple of years ago.
Padres vs Cardinals
The San Diego Padres come into the MLB postseason as a number four seed and will face the number five seed St. Louis Cardinals. San Diego is one of the most exciting teams in all of baseball. They have a young star in Fernando Tatis Jr. along with getting Manny Machado a couple of years ago in free agency. The Padres also have great pieces around in Jake Cronenworth and Eric Hosmer. The front end of that rotation is locked down by Zach Davies, Dinelson Lamet, and Mike Clevinger, who they hope is available after leaving with an injury. The bullpen has been just as good with Drew Pomeranz and newly acquired Trevor Rosenthal.
The Cardinals were one of those teams that have dealt with a COVID outbreak within the team. More than 15 Cardinals were taken out of commission and the team went almost two weeks without playing a game at one point. They got back at it with a lot of doubleheaders but they didn’t complain. They got in the MLB postseason on the last day with an inconsistent offense but a good rotation and bullpen. With the offense being below average, many find it hard to believe that the Cardinals can slow down the firepower of the Padres. This series will be one of the most interesting in all of baseball.
Cubs vs Marlins
The Chicago Cubs win the Central Division and come in as a three seed and will face a surprising opponent in the sixth seed Miami Marlins. The Cubs offense has been up and down but has a Cy Young contender in Yu Darvish. Kyle Hendricks has also shown what he can do in important spots. The team batting average is below .230 and that will be a problem with great teams in the playoffs. The bullpen has some good pieces but also has some questions. If any team can get hot and make a run, it’s this Cubs team.
Don’t count out the Marlins just yet as they have a solid front end of the rotation with Sandy Alcantara and Elieser Hernandez. The offense hasn’t been that bad either as they have a few guys with a .280 or higher batting average and a team average of .244. They’ve put together a decent team who, like the Cardinals, dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak. This could be an underrated series to pay attention to.
Braves vs Reds
This series will probably be one of the best in all of baseball with the offensive power of the Atlanta Braves and the rise of the Cincinnati Reds. The Braves have a deadly lineup that could rival any team in the league. Marcell Ozuna could be an MVP candidate as he has an impressive .343 average with an NL leading 17 home runs and has 55 RBI’s. He’s surrounded by great talent with Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. The rotation has some holes but is lead by Max Fried, who is 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
The Reds are a scary team right now that no one wants to play. They went out and improved the lineup with Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos. The Reds have a three-headed monster with Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, and Luis Castillo. This team got off to a slow start and never really found their footing until crunch time late in the season. Cincinnati is getting hot at the right time and a series with the Braves will tell us just how good they are.
American League Series
On the other side of the bracket, here are the matchups for the American League Wild Card Series.
Tampa Bay Rays vs Toronto Blue Jays
Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees
Minnesota Twins vs Houston Astros
Oakland Athletics vs Chicago White Sox
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