Blog Entry

Who would have pitched in a Wild Card playoff?

Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:25 am
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By Evan Brunell

Major League Baseball will be changing its postseason structure either for the 2012 or 2013 season, adding one wild card per league. As a result, there will be a new playoff series of just one game, which we'll call the Wild Card Game, with both wild cards per league duking it out for a winner-take-all game for the right to advance to the division series.

If this change was in effect for 2011, both the Red Sox and Rays would have won the AL wild card, although the Angels would still have made things interesting. Over in the NL, the Cardinals and Braves would both have won the honors, with the Giants making a late run for it in September. So two collapses -- one each by Boston and Atlanta -- would effectively have been negated by this rule change. (That doesn't make the rule change bad; an extra one-game playoff is always fun and you don't know what teams would have done at the trade deadline with an extra potential postseason spot.)

The Red Sox would love to avoid a playoff game with Tampa and win the wild card outright. If there is a playoff game, then the Red Sox will be forced to start John Lackey in a winner-take-all game, which would not have been the case under the new rules. You see, Jon Lester is likely to pitch on three days rest this Wednesday to give Boston the best chance at winning the wild card. Under the new rules, though, Lester's start would not have been needed as Boston would have clinched a wild-card spot after Monday night's game. That means Bedard would have pitched Tuesday as he did and a warm body would have completed Boston's season on Wednesday, probably Tim Wakefield. That would have set Lester up for the Wild Card Game, working quite nicely in Boston's favor.

The Rays, for their part, would also have clinched a spot after Monday night, knocking the Angels out. The Rays could have opted to push Jeremy Hellickson, who started Tuesday against the Yankees, back to the Wild Card Game. It's far more likely, though, that David Price would have been pushed back to Thursday instead of drawing the ball on Wednesday. So the playoff game would have seen a Lester/Price battle. Instead, if there is a playoff game, we're looking at John Lackey and Jeff Niemann. Exciting!

In the National League, the Giants were eliminated on Sunday. That would have allowed the Cardinals and Braves, respectively, to reconsider their assignments of Jaime Garcia and Randall Delgado to the mound on Monday, respectively. Delgado certainly would have started, as he likely wouldn't have drawn the ball in the playoff game or the first couple games of the division series anyways. Garcia is a possibility, but with Chris Carpenter slated to go on Wednesday, he certainly would have been pushed back to the playoff game with Garcia starting on Monday in order to line up for the division series. Tuesday's starter in Jake Westbrook wouldn't have been considered for the start.

So who would the Braves have sent up against Carpenter if not Delgado? Derek Lowe? Nope -- he's in the midst of one his worst seasons, so would have started on Tuesday to ready for a Game 3 start in the division series. As we've seen, every team's Wednesday starter has so far fit the bill for a playoff game, and that holds true for Atlanta, as Tim Hudson would have drawn the start. So we're looking at a Carpenter/Hudson matchup. Not shabby at all.

Instead of both teams having to throw their best pitchers against other teams in a battle for the wild card, these pitchers would have gone up against each other in what would have promised to be an exciting day of Wild Card Games.

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hotmeuly
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 11:28 am
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peulouy
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:04 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 6:27 pm
 

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