Although I'm not a big fan of major league baseball's new playoff format I must admit it does add a lot of drama and intrigue to the end of the regular season. There was actually a scenario wherein New York and Baltimore would've been forced to play a one game playoff to determine who had to play in the wild card game. Fortunately Robinson Cano put an end to all that nonsense last night with two homers and 6 RBI. Advertisers can now breathe a sigh of relief. Now that the match ups are set (for the most part) here is how the first round of the playoffs will shake out.
Wild card games:
St. Louis at Atlanta. Did anyone expect the reigning World Series champions to return to the post season after losing Phat Albert to free agency? It's a miracle, but the celebration won't last long. Atlanta wins at home.
Baltimore at Texas. The Rangers fell asleep at the wheel and let the Oakland A's pass them on the last day of the regular season, but rest assured they will beat the Orioles to advance.
San Francisco vs. Cincinnati. The Giants have a great pitching rotation, but the Reds are almost as good plus they can hit. This is where the Giants will realize the absence of Brian Wilson and Melky Cabrera is too much to overcome. Cueto and Chapman are as good as advertised so the Giants lineup will struggle.
Oakland vs. Detroit. Moneyball works in the regular season, but when the bright lights come on it's a different story. Miguel Cabrera (soon to be AL MVP) owns the A's and potentially facing Justin Verlander twice is too much to ask for an overachieving team.
New York vs. Texas. The Yankees have Robinson Cano and the Rangers don't. End of story.
Washington vs. Atlanta. Even without the phenom Stephen Strausburg the Nationals have enough pitching to shut down the Braves lineup. We'll see if Bryce Harper is ready to take his game to the next level.