It’s September, folks. The playoffs are right around the corner. The magic of October baseball and cool fall weather is in sight. But first, we need to figure out who’s making it to October.
The division races are pretty much locked up even with a month to go. There are only two divisions with a 3.5 game lead separating first and second place: The Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East and the Cubs and Brewers in the NL Central.
The wild card race, however, is anything but clear. In the AL, there are 8 teams in the race. All of those teams are in a 4-game window of each other. In the NL, there are 4 teams all within 3 games. The changes to the wild card spots in 2013 has made the playoff race much more exciting. So many teams are pushing for just a one game opportunity and here at Standing Room Only, it’s our job to provide you with the hot takes and our post season predictions. So, here are my four Wildcard teams for the 2017 playoffs.
The American League
The New York Yankees
It looks like the Yankees are on their way to winning over 85 games and I predict they will hold onto that top spot in the AL race. With a 7-3 record over their last 10 games, the Yanks have been hot. A resurgent campaign from their high priced left-hander CC Sabathia has helped pick up the slack from a poor season from Tanaka, stabilizing the rotation for the stretch run. With 30 and 40 home run campaigns from Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge respectively, the middle of the lineup has the power to propel this team into the postseason. The team is also loaded with veteran talent that knows how to handle the pressure of clinching a playoff spot. Guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Matt Holliday, and many others can help send this team to the one game playoff.
The Los Angeles Angels
There is no team that has pushed their chips into the middle of the poker table like the Angels. With how strange the waiver trade season has been with guys like Jay Bruce going to Cleveland and Justin Verlander going to Houston, the Angels took on the massive salaries of Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips with the hope that these moves will push them over the top. When it looked like this team was out for the count with the loss of Mike Trout for a month and a half of the season, they hung around and are within striking position for a wild card spot. Billy Eppler has built one of the best bullpens in baseball with only $14 million going into it. While they are currently trailing the Twins by 1 game for the second wild card spot, I predict that their offense will carry them over the Twins who lack the talent and experience that the Angels have right now.
The National League
The Arizona Diamondbacks
Man, was I wrong about this team in my preseason predictions. The Diamondbacks have surprised the heck out of me. And where in the world was this Zack Greinke last year? He has a 16-6 record with a 3.01 ERA and 194 strikeouts. Their starting pitching has helped them immensely this season so the offense did not feel pressured all the time. The D-backs were also aggressive at the deadline adding J.D. Martinez, who has stabilized the outfield and added depth to the lineup. Currently, they hold a 5 game lead for the first wildcard slot. They should have no problem holding that lead. After an amazing winning streak and going 8-2 over their last 10, they are hot at the right time.
The Milwaukee Brewers
This is my bold pick of the wildcard teams. I just love this 2017 Brewers squad for some reason and I want to see them make it back to the post season. No one thought they would get the contributions they did from Eric Thames and be in the hunt even with a down year from cornerstone Ryan Braun. I predict that their pitching and bullpen will carry them into the playoffs. They are currently 3 games out behind the Rockies, but I think that they will get hot and overtake Colorado. The Brew Crew will be the final team to make it to the postseason.
What do you think of our predictions? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter. Scott and I will be shifting to our weekly podcast later this month and will be getting you ready for postseason coverage with “Pub Talk.” Tune in!