With two additional teams making the MLB playoffs these days, fans have the opportunity to root for the matchups they hope to see during the wild-card play-in games.
Which got me to thinking—which matchups would I be most excited about seeing (including the divisional series already set in stone)? What compelling storylines or rivalries do I want to see played out on the October stage?
I'll share my picks below, including the full postseason schedule to follow. Be sure to include your thoughts in the comments.
6. Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals
While the divisional rivalry aspect of this matchup would add to the intensity, there wouldn't be that many intriguing storylines here, right? Neither team is an upstart, there isn't a long and intense history of hatred between the clubs and neither team has too many players who move the needle.
It would be good, solid baseball, but it's the least compelling matchup for the average fan.
5. Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox
Anytime you get a chance to see an AL East rivalry, it's a good thing. The Red Sox were one of the most surprising teams in baseball this year, while the Rays and manager Joe Maddon keep finding their way to the postseason.
Still, there are four series that would bring more intrigue to the table than this matchup.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Outside of Cincinnati, everyone is rooting for the Pirates to win the play-in game, right? We'd all love to see the team mired in years upon years of futility get a full playoff series, right?
The Pirates have a start in Andrew McCutchen, a masher in Pedro Alvarez and one of the most solid pitching staffs in all of baseball. Add in a recent legacy of failure, and you have America's darlings in this postseason should they advance past Cincinnati.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves
It turns out a series we are guaranteed to see is also one of the most compelling options. Both of these teams bring serious star power to the table and made headlines for dramatically improving before the season began.
In the Dodgers, you get Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The Braves counter with Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann, Craig Kimbrel and Kris Medlen.
The Braves won the season series, five games to two. Can they keep up their winning ways against LA with the pressure on?
2. Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
C'mon, everyone wants to see Terry Francona face his old team after his unceremonious firing from the Red Sox in 2011 following the great "fried chicken" debacle. Now, he returns with a young, exciting Indians team that has the bats to hang with the equally dangerous Red Sox lineup.
The "return of Francona" storyline would get old fast, but beyond that, two of the best offenses in the American League would slug their way to a fun ALDS.
1. Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics
From a purely baseball-driven perspective, this is the matchup I'm most intrigued to see.
Any chance to watch Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer is exciting enough, but the chance to see a rematch of last year's five-game ALDS?
Sign me up. The Athletics don't have the star power of the Tigers, but they are one of the game's most balanced teams. You can bet this will once again be an excellent matchup and one that should go the full five games.
Here's the full MLB postseason schedule:
|NL Wild Card||Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates||Tue, Oct. 1||8 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|AL Wild Card||Tampa Bay Rays @ Cleveland Indians||Wed, Oct. 2||8 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 1||NL Wild Card @ St. Louis Cardinals||Thu, Oct. 3||5 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 2||NL Wild Card @ St. Louis Cardinals||Fri, Oct. 4||1 p.m.||MLBN||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 3||St. Louis Cardinals @ NL Wild Card||Sun, Oct. 6||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 4*||St. Louis Cardinals @ NL Wild Card||Mon, Oct. 7||TBD||TBS or MLBN***||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 5*||NL Wild Card @ St. Louis Cardinals||Wed, Oct. 9||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 1||Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves||Thu, Oct. 3||8:30 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 2||Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves||Fri, Oct. 4||6 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 3||Atlanta Braves @ Los Angeles Dodgers||Sun, Oct. 6||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 4*||Atlanta Braves @ Los Angeles Dodgers||Mon, Oct. 7||TBD||TBS or MLBN***||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 5*||Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves||Wed, Oct. 9||TBD||TBS|
|Game 1||AL Wild Card @ Boston Red Sox||Fri, Oct. 4||3 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 2||AL Wild Card @ Boston Red Sox||Sat, Oct. 5||5:30 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 3||Boston Red Sox @ AL Wild Card||Mon, Oct. 7||TBD||TBS or MLBN***||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 4*||Boston Red Sox@ AL Wild Card||Tue, Oct. 8||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 5*||AL Wild Card @ Boston Red Sox||Thu, Oct. 10||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 1||Detroit Tigers @ Oakland Athletics||Fri, Oct. 4||9:30 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 2||Detroit Tigers @ Oakland Athletics||Sat, Oct. 5||9 p.m.||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 3||Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers||Mon, Oct. 7||TBD||TBS or MLBN***||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 4*||Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers||Tue, Oct. 8||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 5*||Detroit Tigers @ Oakland Athletics||Thu, Oct. 10||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 1||TBD @ TBD||Fri, Oct. 11||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 2||TBD @ TBD||Sat, Oct. 12||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 3||TBD @ TBD||Mon, Oct. 14||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 4||TBD @ TBD||Tue, Oct. 15||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 5*||TBD @ TBD||Wed, Oct. 16||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 6*||TBD @ TBD||Fri, Oct. 18||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 7*||TBD @ TBD||Sat, Oct. 19||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV; TBS.com|
|Game 1||TBD @ TBD||Sat, Oct. 12||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 2||TBD @ TBD||Sun, Oct. 13||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 3||TBD @ TBD||Tue, Oct. 15||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 4||TBD @ TBD||Wed, Oct. 16||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 5*||TBD @ TBD||Thu, Oct. 17||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 6*||TBD @ TBD||Sat, Oct. 19||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 7*||TBD @ TBD||Sun, Oct. 20||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 1||NL Champion @ AL Champion||Wed, Oct. 23||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 2||NL Champion @ AL Champion||Thu, Oct. 24||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 3||AL Champion @ NL Champion||Sat, Oct. 26||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 4||AL Champion @ NL Champion||Sun, Oct. 27||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 5*||AL Champion @ NL Champion||Mon, Oct. 28||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 6*||NL Champion @ AL Champion||Wed, Oct. 30||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 7*||NL Champion @ AL Champion||Thu, Oct. 31||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
*** "TBS will air three of the four Division Series games on Friday, October 4 and up to three games on Monday, October 7. MLB Network will air one Division Series game on both of those dates. TBS will air 18 of the 20 Division Series games" (via MLB.com).