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Thoughts on the MLB wild-card standings

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Brennan Delaney
4 months ago
I’m just going to type this outright, I don’t want the Blue Jays to have home-field advantage, I would like the Jays to play the Guardians in the first round.
Ask yourself this: out of all teams in the American League playoffs, who is the weakest team? There’s an argument for Seattle due to having the worst record, but personally, I’d pick the Guardians.
While the Mariners have the worst record out of the six teams in a playoff position, they have to play 19 games against the AL-best Houston Astros. Eugenio Suarez and Julio Rodriguez are two fantastic players, but what worries me the most about them is the fact that they have a pretty stacked rotation.
At the trade deadline, the Mariners traded a huge package for Luis Castillo, who has posted a 2.83 ERA and 2.89 FIP in 54 innings since joining the Pacific Coast team.  The M’s also have former Blue Jay and 2021 AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, who has posted a 3.60 ERA and 3.98 FIP in 177.2 innings pitched. While he isn’t pitching as well as he did in 2021, he’s still a heck of a pitcher. Add Logan Gilbert and George Kirby, and that’s a pretty scary rotation
Then you have the Rays, which nope, don’t want anything to do with them. Match-up-wise, they are the team that I am the most afraid of. Three of their starters, Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, and Jeffrey Springs all have an ERA below three. While Shane Baz will be getting Tommy John in the near future, much like the Mariners, their rotation is tough and arguably better than the Jays. 
Not to mention that the Rays have quite a few more high-end offensive players. Yandy Diaz, Randy Arozarena, Manuel Margot, Harold Ramirez, Isaac Paredes, and Wander Franco all have wRC+’s over 100. Furthermore, it also seems like the Rays get every bounce when the two AL East teams play.
Now, home field advantage against either the Rays or Mariners would be great, but I’d argue that playing three games at Progressive Field is the ideal outcome. This isn’t to say that it’ll be easy, as Cleveland’s pitching staff is fantastic, with Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, and Cal Quantrill all putting up great seasons. What’s more, is that the Guardians have a tough bullpen which would be hard to crack once the game hits the sixth or seventh inning.
Furthermore, their hitting approach reminds me of the 80s as they put everything in play. While the Guardians only have four players with 10+ home runs (Josh Naylor, Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario and Jose Ramirez),  it’d be quicker to list the guys that don’t have a wRC+ over 100.
So overall, it’s tough to decide who to face. I want absolutely nothing to do with the Rays, but it’s a toss-up between Seattle and Cleveland. That is, until you look at who the Jays would face if they were to win the wildcard series.
For the longest time, I thought the winner of the first two wildcard teams played the bye team with the second-best record. It was quite a shock when I learned that there isn’t re-seeding after each round. So not only would the Jays play either Tampa or Seattle in the first round, teams with better records than the Central Division winner, but if they were to win, they’d play the Houston Astros.
That poses a huge issue. As a bye team, they’d be able to rest their pitching staff, which is arguably the best in the league. Whereas the Jays would likely use Gausman and Stripling, and possibly even Manoah during the wildcard series.
Finishing in the third wildcard spot would mean that they face the Guardians, and if they win, the Yankees.
All said, that is a much easier path to the ALCS than to play Seattle or Tampa in the wildcard, and then Houston in the ALDS.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.

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