Does anyone still think the expansion of Major League Baseball's playoffs was a bad idea? The drama this has helped provide in the final days of the season and will provide in the Wild Card Round has been and is great for fans.
Saying this Wild Card Round is going to provide some great theater is not one of my bold predictions. That is almost just stating a matter of fact at this point.
I'll try to make my following predictions a little more revelatory. Below my predictions, you will be able to find the bracket and schedule for this year's postseason.
National League Wild Card Round
Matchup: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates
Start time: Tuesday, Oct.1, 8:07 p.m. ET
Probable Starters: Johnny Cueto (5-2, 2.82 ERA) vs. Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02 ERA)
Liriano Will Shine
Francisco Liriano has gone through a massive revitalization since debuting with the Pirates back in May. Not only did he pick up 16 wins, but he did so while racking up more than a strikeout per inning.
What's even more pertinent, and frightening for the Reds, is Liriano's performance at PNC Park.
At PNC, the 29-year-old lefty went 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA in his 11 starts there.
He will improve those home numbers in this huge start. Liriano will go eight innings, allow one earned run, four hits and strike out eight.
Pirates Win, 3-1
The Reds have their work cut out for them. Liriano is going to handcuff the Reds' powerful lefties, and it will be hard for Cincinnati to remember it can beat this team.
The Reds were swept by the Pirates to end the season and were outscored 16-6 in those three games. Cueto will help keep Cincinnati in this game, but it won't be enough to earn him a win.
2013 American League Wild Card Round
Matchup: Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians (93-70)
Start Time: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 8:07 p.m. ET
Probable Starters: Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76 ERA) vs. Danny Salazar (2-3, 3.12 ERA)
Cleveland Will Win with a Walk-off
Eleven times this season, the Indians have authored walk-off wins while playing at Progressive Field. They are going to add a 12th in the bright lights of the playoffs.
It is impossible to see this game coming down to anything else. These two teams are evenly matched and win in similar ways. They are both also red-hot. The Rays impressively won 8 of 10 to finish the season, and the Tribe have been good enough to scoff at that .800 winning percentage.
Cleveland went unblemished over its final 10 games, and posted a plus-33 run differential in that span.
However, they also have Danny Salazar, and the 23-year-old will be making just his 11th start in the majors for the game. Welcome to the show, kid.
Still, Salazar has the stuff. He proved that much by holding the Tigers to to four runs over 13.2 innings and posting a 15/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his two starts against that strong lineup.
I expect Salazar to give up a few runs early. That has been a problem for him this year, and I can't see him tackling that in this setting. However, he will rebound to keep this game close, and that is when the resilient Tribe will win in their last at-bat.
Indians win, 5-4.
|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 at 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).