Monday, September 29, 2014

After a Day to Catch Our Breath, It's Back to the Seat's Edge - MLB Wildcard

It took all of the 162 to get the tournament in place, and by the way this is another example of why the book should be closed on if the addition of the second wild card makes the game better or worse as there was never a meaningless day the entire month of September, and now that the brackets all have names in them it’s time to throw out the ball to start the second season. Speaking of the second wild card, the A’s managed to hold off the Mariners and claim that last ticket on the playoff train however unconvincingly down the stretch going 5-5, In fact, Oakland's post-All-Star break winning percentage of .433 is the lowest in MLB history for a team that reached the postseason, fortunately for Oakland the M’s were just as futile and a bad business trip across the border to Toronto where Seattle went 1-3 was their undoing. Now the last men in try not to be dead man walking on a visit to Kansas City where they will face James Shields (14-8). The Royals will come into the riding the mojo train but perhaps might be too happy just to be playing in October for the first time in 30 years to enough to focus on the task at hand by the time they finish the National Anthem and if they come out cold then it will be the shortest celebration three decades in the making that the world has ever seen. Conversely, if the Royals ride the enthusiasm of the crowad to and early lead then that can be their ticket to California. Kansas City's nearly historic bullpen went 72-1 in the regular season when leading after seven innings and 79-1 when leading after eight. The A's, meanwhile, led the majors with 13 wins when trailing after seven and eight wins when trailing after eight. So this one-game series may turn out to be continuation to the drama we saw to close the year only two days after we had a chance to catch our breath so buckle up for what promises to be a great playoff season. Next up……… Giants at Pittsburgh View the complete MLB playoff preview on the main site here...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

MLB Wild Card Races - As of Sept 24

Ok, I gotta’ admit I really thought King Felix was going to break trend and pitch well in the Great White North but he got rocked again, and on a day that the A’s loss adds insult to injury and they’re in a ton of trouble now. I think the A’s can lose 3 over their last 5 as although the Angels have nothing to play for they still have the best record in baseball and they certainly don’t want to limp into the playoffs by being swept. Conversely the Mariners haven’t shown any consistency let alone enough to run the table over the last 5, which is what they would need to do and for a team that is playing .529 ball this year for you quants the chances of that happening is 2.35%, it may be time to start looking towards next year. American Team............Wins......Losses.....GB Oakland..........86.........71..... - Kansas City......86.........71..... - Seattle..........81.........68...... 3.0 Cleveland........82.........76...... 4.5 New York.........81.........76...... 5.0 National Pittsburgh.......86.........71....... - San Francisco....85.........72....... - Milwaukee........80.........77....... 5.0 Obviously, no one wants to play a do-or-die one-game playoff and face the ace of the opposing staff with their season on the line and it’s a very fine line between that outcome and best of five series where there is some time to strategize. The Royals are quite happy they’re not going to see the Tigers over their last 6 games as the Tigers have just owned them this season and if they get run down by Seattle that is what everyone will look to as a big part of the cause. The Giants just are not willing to concede the NL West to the Dodgers and have two games left in LA to pull to within a game of the lead but they will have to go through Boardwalk and Parkplace facing Greinke and Kershaw without dropping one of them and that will be difficult. The Royals and Tigers both get teams outside of the bubble but KC is on the road at Cleveland, who may not be mathematically eliminated but for all intent and purposes are, but they will keep on fighting and if the Tigers don’t get some run support they may find themselves in that one game playoff as their lead in the Central is also down to one game. Coming down the home stretch of the season although some of the horses have faded but there is still much to be decided and these games in September are going to be looked back on in October particularly those with home field advantage or favorable pitching rotations. We have to start in the AL as fortunes can change so much and so quickly. As we have previously written the Central Division winner, either KC or Detroit, will be on their way to Baltimore for a 7-game set. Certainly no picnic and could also be an early exit from the playoffs but at least there will be the opportunity to make adjustments and the Orioles haven’t played a game that’s mattered in quite some time so stealing home field is not out of the question. The loser gets a one-game winner-take-all, steal cage death match probably against King Felix and the Seattle Mariners. Other than Clayton Kershaw probably the one guy you would not want to face for one game with your season on the line. Now I understand that right now Oakland is sitting in that second spot but losers of 7 of their last 10, including the worst batting average and slugging percentage in the league since the Cespedes trade, I have not indication that they will do enough to outlast the M’s despite a very favorable schedule as the Angels have nothing to play for and will be basically be resting starters during their 3-game set, and then series with the Phillies and Rangers would be a welcome sight for anyone in pennant race, but even that won’t be enough to get them through. Seattle has 3 games with Houston, 4 with Toronto, and close with the Angels for a 3-game set. I like their chances to better than .600 over their final 10 and that should be enough to get their one game playoff. Hernandez is scheduled to pitch that last game against the Angels but if the M’s don’t need it look for them to sit him in that game and pitch the play-in game on an extra days rest. There are two series that will be watched this weekend probably as much as the playoffs themselves, the Tigers at Kansas City and the Giants at the Dodgers. Both division leads can change hands before the Summer ends. We have laid out the case (fate) of the Tigers/Royals winner and let me tell you, both need to win this upcoming series as the rest of the schedule should be about a wash. Both the White Sox, but the Tigers get a Twins squad with nothing to play for and the Royals will play a Cleveland team that will be desperate to run the table in the hopes of getting that last spot, and willing to pull out all the stops. Rest assured this will be must see TV and a great appetizer ahead of the real deal. Next up the NL. American Team............Wins......Losses.....GB Oakland..........83.........68..... - Kansas City......83.........69..... - Seattle..........81.........67...... 1.0 Cleveland........79.........73...... 4.0 National San Francisco....84.........68....... - Pittsburgh.......82.........70....... - Milwaukee........79.........74....... 3.5 View all the game previews, pitching matchups, betting lines, and more here. Kansas City and Detroit are dueling for the AL Central division lead, the first wild card, and perhaps most importantly avoiding a one-game death sentence against King Felix and Mariners. If the Royals don’t take the flag they certainly can look back and blame it on their lack of production against their division rivals from Detroit as they have dropped 11 out of 15 to the Tigers this season including the first two games of this current 3-game set. The Royals have not made it to the post season in 27 years, the longest such streak in the major leagues and they hope to put it to and end. The Al Wildcards will come down the final series of the year, and among those contenders Seattle appears to have the most difficult path as they have series with three playoff contenders including 7 huge games with the Angels who possess the best record in baseball, 3 with the A’s whom they’re a half-game back of for the last playoff spot, and 4 with the Blue Jays who are 3.5 back and have an outside shot. You have to figure they have to sweep the Astros in their 3-game set to even have an outside shot. The A’s may be recovering from a terrible skid where they lost 9 of 10 but they are still in the driver seat because of the cushion they had and their advantageous schedule which includes 7 games left against the Rangers who possess the worst record in baseball and 3 with the Phillies another last place team, mixed in with 3 with the Mariners and Angels. They may have to win the do-or-die game but if they do, they go back to being one of the favorites to represent the AL.

Monday, August 18, 2014

MLB Wildcards – Don’t call this race just yet

For the better part of this season the division races haven’t been in doubt, a couple have been two horse races, but if you give any credence to ESPN’s POFF category then all but one is sealed and delivered. However some of the leaders at the mid-point have began to fade down the stretch, some of the older horses are showing their age, and the colts are hitting their stride, so this one may not end up how you think at the wire so don’t tear up that ticket just yet. In the AL you gotta’ love what Buck Showalter has done in Baltimore, coming out of the broadcast booth to almost get it done last year but creating a canyon of space (7games) between themselves and the Yanks, Jays, and Rays to coast to the division crown. Not only that but suddenly are only two games back of the Angles and A’s for the best record in baseball after it looked they those two had a monopoly on home field advantage throughout the playoffs and Series after the AL’s All-Star game win. Then they they’re bats seemed to go cold and the Angels lost 4 straight, the A’s 5, each going 5-5 and 3-7 respectively, which was enough for the Angels to take over 1st by .001 but also got the Orioles and perhaps the Royals involved in the chase. Speaking of the Royals how great is that story? Holding the division lead this late in the season for the first time in a decade, Kansas City is the hottest team in the AL, winners of 8 of their last 10. Now before we start getting all nostalgic for George Brett let’s not forget that if they don’t hold off the Tigers who are just 1.5 games back then they may be in a dog fight for the 2nd and final wild card spot. Why, because the first spot was given out long ago as the California consolation prize. With 72/73 wins already in their pocket the top seed and 1st wildcard the A’s and Angels have those seats reserved. That leaves one seat left for the Mariners (and King Felix, how would you like to draw them in a 1-game playoff?) Royals/Tigers runner-up -.5, Yankees -4, Jays -5, and Indians -5. So despite having the best record in the MLB for most of the year the loser of the AL West could find themselves needing to beat King Felix in a one-game or go home, seems like a very poor ROI for a solid 162 games worth of work. In the NL all eyes have been on the central which finally has a front runner as the Brewers are coming off a 3-game sweep of the Dodgers who prior to that series had the best record in the NL. Now they each have 70 wins each and Milwaukee has a 3-game lead in the division, their largest since the opening couple of weeks. This was done at the expense of the perpetual challengers, St. Louis and the other really “feel good” story the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now this division is far from over and the top 3 have been trading places for most of the year, but the young Brewers are peaking at the right time and after their summer vacation in LA they don’t have any doubts that they have talent necessary to get to the show for the first time since 1982. However much like the Pirates they don’t have the pedigree for winning that the club 3 games behind them does, and the Cardinals will have 7 chances head-to-head to make up those 3 games. As good a story as Ol’ Milwaukee is this year I’m not ready to hand over the Central to em’ just yet as the Cards are still the Cards and something tells me we haven’t heard the last of them. “The Lumber Company”, “The Family”, “Pops”, all of those images of the 79’ Pirates were being replayed earlier in the year as it looked like Pittsburgh finally had the depth to get them back to the post season but a 3-7 stretch including 5 straight losses over the last 10 has dropped them 5.5 back and scrambling to get back in the picture. The schedule will present the opportunities but being that they’ve barley been a .500 club all season and they’ll need to be closer to .700 the rest of the way out, it looks like Stargel and company will have dibs on baseball in the steel city for another year. The West has long been decided, and much like the AL West, it’s a California thang, with either the Dodgers or the Giants (-3.5) taking the flag and the other the top wild card. LA went on a roll and took over the best record before being swept at home by the Brew Crew, couple that with injuries to Ryu their number 3 starter, Juan Uribe, Hanley Rameriz, and “The Untouchables” looking touchable in their last two starts, all of the sudden the team that seemed destined to go one step further than they went last year when they lost in the NLCS, seems to looking a little old compared to the rest of the field. But all the Dodgers need to do is win the West. Then they avoid the possibility of losing a one game “fluke” series and teams will have to deal with the Untouchables Kershaw and Greinke in a 7-game series and that will be tough to do. Get all of the scores, schedules, highlights, and everything about the playoff races here.
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