It's a bit different this year. We have two extra Wild Card teams. And both Wild Card teams from each league will play against each other in a one game playoff. I have mixed feelings about it, but it should bring about some extra buzz going into the postseason. Lets go.
American League Wild Card
Baltimore Orioles vs. Texas Rangers
There is a lot to like about the Orioles. They haven't been in the postseason since 1997. The future is definitely looking brighter for this franchise, but they will have to get past the American League representative in the World Series for the last two years. It's amazing to see that the Orioles are among the best in close games, including extra inning games. Their starting pitching isn't the best, but if their offense gives them a lead, their bullpen is among the best in baseball. OF Adam Jones, C Matt Wieters and 3B Manny Machado have been carrying the Orioles this season. If they continue their stellar play on both offense and defense they could put the Texas Rangers in a tough spot. 1B Mark Reynolds and 1B Chris Davis are their RBI threats in the middle of their order. They have to match what Texas does on offense to get to their All-Star closer Jim Johnson.
Texas let a big lead in the division slip away and are now stuck in this position. If any team can get out of this mess it's the Rangers. Their starting pitching is a bit flawed, but rookie Yu Darvish certainly will help. If OF Josh Hamilton can get himself out of his funk, the Rangers will certainly get back on track for another World Series run. 3B Adrian Beltre was a big banged up to end the season. His health will be a major factor. Texas' bullpen hasn't had the kind of success in the past this year, but they are still formidable against a young team making their first postseason appearance.
National League Wild Card
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves
Pretty interesting to see these two go at it for the Wild Card playoff. Last year the Braves lost their lead in the Wild Card on the last day of the season to the St. Louis Cardinals, who went on to win the World Series. This time the Braves didn't let their lead dwindle. They could use this as motivation, but they don't want to think about last season anymore. The Cardinals have one of the best pitching staffs in the National League. Not having their ace Chris Carpenter for most of the season hasn't put a damper on their success. Kyle Lohse and Lance Lynn have been carrying the staff for much of the year. OF Carlos Beltran and OF Matt Holliday have picked up the offense without their slugger Albert Pujols who is no longer on the team. It seemed like Pujols never left this year. C Yadier Molina has been banged up, but is still a formidable hitter near the bottom of their lineup. St. Louis could sneak up on some teams again this year like they did last year.
It would be fitting for the Braves to win the World Series this year for the soon to be retiring 3B Chipper Jones. But no one will be giving them anything. Atlanta has to expect something OF Jaston Heyward and 1B Freddie Freeman. They are the future of the franchise and this is their time to shine. OF Michael Bourn will need to get on base to maximize the Braves chances of beating the defending champions. The Braves strength is their pitching. They have a lot of talented arms. One in particular is their closer Craig Kimbrel. If Atlanta gets a lead, it's usually lights out for the opposing team. So many storylines surrounding this game. It's too bad they have to play each other now instead of later on.