With the addition of a second wild card berth in each league, the Major League Baseball playoffs have taken on new form. We’ll two the two wild card teams square off on Friday night and the survivors will go on to the ALDS.
In the American League, Baltimore will take on Texas for the right to face the New York Yankees. In the National League, the St. Louis will face Atlanta with the winner going on to face the Washington Nationals.
Baltimore Orioles @ Texas Rangers
MLB Betting Odds: Rangers -188
The Orioles have had a wonderful season but they better not hang their hats on just being the feel-good story of the American League. They have a tough task ahead of them as they face the team that’s represented the AL in the World Series in each of the last two years.
The Orioles will send Joe Saunders to the mound to face Yu Darvish. Saunders is very familiar with Texas as he spent time in the American League West division with the Los Angeles Angels. However, his track record against them is fairly week as he is 3-7 versus Texas with a 6.48 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP.
In the regular season, Texas won five of the seven meetings and will hope the numbers turn out in their favor as they put Darvish on the mound. He’s never faced Baltimore but he has won four straight starts and the team has won five of his last six outings.
It’s worth noting that Baltimore was the best road team in the AL this season, going 46-35. Texas was 11-4 when posted as a favorite of -175 to -200 at home this season.
St. Louis Cardinals @ Atlanta Braves
MLB Betting Odds: Braves -168
In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals will visit the Atlanta Braves. The Cards come into the playoffs with some momentum as they’ve won eight of their last 11 while the Braves did lose two of three to end the year, but had won seven of eight before that.
Head-to-head, the Braves won five of the six meetings this season with all six contests going over the number. Nine of the last 10 meetings in Atlanta have also gone over the total.
The Braves will put young phenom Kris Medlen on the mound against Cards veteran Kyle Lohse. Lohse is 3-1 in his last four decisions against the Braves but he’s been a bit lucky. His ERA in those contests is 4.97 and his WHIP is 1.58.
Medlen has had a phenomenal season with the Braves as he went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA and WHIP of 0.91. He’s started 12 games since the All-Star break, going 9-0 with a sparkling 0.94 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP.
The winner of this series will face the Washington Nationals, who are fairly short on playoff experience. It’s conceivable that the winner of this series gains some momentum and makes it to the NLCS – even though it seems like such a long road, especially having to play an extra game.