MLB Wildcard Previews

Sam Cox
American League: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays

American League: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays

For the opportunity to face Texas Rangers, the Orioles make the trip to Canada on Tuesday evening. Chris Tillman will take the mound for the Orioles, boasting a 16-6 season record. However, Tillman’s career record against the Blue Jays will be of particular concern. He has a 5.44 ERA against the Canadian organisation, but has seen that drop to 3.63 this season, including a much-improved record in Toronto. A strong outing in his last start against the Blue Jays will give the Orioles hope that his struggles are behind him.  

On the opposing mound, it will be Marcus Strotman. A versatile pitcher, who will throw any combination of fastballs and off-speed pitches during an at bat, Strotman has an underwhelming ERA of 4.37 for the season.

Toronto were third in home runs in the American League in 2016, but were over 30 behind the runaway big hitters, the Orioles. However, team OBP is often more crucial in the tougher, well-matched postseason clashes. The Blue Jays had an on-base percentage of .330, while Baltimore were languishing at .317.

Tip: Toronto Blue Jays to win and over 8.5 runs in the match – 9/4

National League: San Francisco Giants at New York Mets

San Francisco Giants have been here before. Even years in this decade have equalled World Series wins for Bruce Bochy’s side and, despite having an historically bad second half, they are in with a sniff of snatching a fourth title in seven years.

The pitching matchup in this game is deserving of such high stakes. Third and fourth on the National League regular season ERA, New York’s Noah Syndergaard and San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner are two of the best baseball has to offer.

When it comes to hitting, we see one of the home run leaders take on a Giants side who specialise in getting on base and manufacturing runs. Only the Marlins and Braves hit less homers than the Giants in the regular season, but it is unlikely the Mets will be able to unleash all their power against Bumgarner, the 2014 World Series MVP.

This game could boil down to which line-up can remove the opposing starting pitcher the quickest. Unlikely to be a high scoring affair, these are two pitchers with a wealth of postseason experience. San Francisco have mixed memories of Syndergaard, while Bumgarner’s heroics just two years ago will have the Mets wary.

Tip: San Francisco Giants to win and New York Mets to score under 2.5 – 29/10