Major League Baseball Wild Card Preview: One game decides it all for these four teams

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Major League Baseball Wild Card Preview: One game decides it all for these four teams

Nick Marotta, Asst. Sports Editor

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The four teams that will be competing in the American League and National League Wild Card games have all clinched their spots.

Over the next two days, the New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Baltimore Orioles will be competing for a position in the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs.

The two Wild Card games, which are best of one game, feature high-powered offenses in the AL (American League) and two big-time pitchers in the NL (National League). In the American League, that slugging matchup will be the Blue Jays offense versus the Orioles starter Chris Tillman.

First baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who cracked 42 home runs and sported a respectable batting average of over .260, headlines a powerful Blue Jays batting lineup.

It isn’t just Encarnacion, though, other big-time hitters like Troy Tulowitzki (.254 BA, 24 HR) and Josh Donaldson (.284 BA, 37 HR) are lurking in the Toronto lineup. Chris Tillman, the Orioles starter for the game, has his work cut out for him.

However, this doesn’t mean the Orioles’ eight-year starter isn’t up to the task. This season, Tillman has an impressive record of 16 wins and six losses. He pitched to a stellar Earned Run Average (ERA) of 3.77 with 140 strikeouts over 172 innings.

The Orioles offense has two behemoths in Chris Davis, who cracked 37 home runs in the regular season, and Manny Machado, who hit 38. Other Orioles to watch on offense are Adam Jones (.265 BA, 29 HR) and Mark Trumbo (.256 BA, 47 HR) who led the major leagues in home runs.

The Orioles might have an easier time dealing with Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman. Stroman recorded a 9-10 record and an ERA over 4.0.
Against the O’s this season, his ERA was 5.27, not a comforting statistic for Jays’ fans.

The game, which takes place in Toronto, is set for an 8 p.m. start tonight, Oct. 4th.

In the National League, the two starting pitchers are looking to control the game. For the Mets, it will be Noah Syndergaard who takes the hill, while Madison Bumgarner, the most dominant pitcher of the 2014 playoffs, starts for the Giants.

Bumgarner pitched to an insane 1.04 ERA over 52 ⅔ innings in the 2014 playoffs when he led the Giants to a World Series championship. This season, he sports a 15-9 record and has an ERA under 3.0.

However, Bumgarner’s last few starts have been uncharacteristic. In September, he gave up three home runs in a game for the first time in his pitching career. He has given up 26 home runs in total this season. Despite this, Bumgarner is 3-2 in his last five decisions, and is one of the most impressive playoff pitchers in recent history.

Syndergaard is one of two Mets starters who made it through the entire regular season. Both Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon will be seeing action in this year’s playoffs.

Syndergaard will be getting the start against the Giants on Wednesday, and will be pitching on extended rest. He also has a record of 3-2 in his last five decisions, and has a similar ERA to Bumgarner with a 2.60. Syndergaard’s fastball has hit up to 101 miles per hour, and he also has a stellar arsenal of other pitches including the circle changeup, slider, and a devastating curveball.

The Mets hitting lineup, although beaten and bruised, has a large veteran presence along with a few promising rookies. Veteran hitters like Curtis Granderson (.237 BA, 30 HR) and Jay Bruce (.265 BA, 25 HR) provide a foundation for rookies like T.J. Rivera (.333 BA, 3 HR) to shine in scoring opportunities.

San Francisco also has a few strong hitters like Buster Posey (.288 BA, 14 HR) and Brandon Belt (.275 BA, 17 HR). Although not many of the Giants hit for power, they are still a threat to any pitcher. A majority of the Giants’ hitters are batting over .250 and have slugging percentages over .350.

The game takes place at Citi Field in New York, and is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start tomorrow.

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