The Major League Baseball season finally winds to a close this weekend as teams start their last series today. Most of the postseason positioning is already handled, but for those of you that aren’t completely on top of it, I will get you up to speed.
The American League is all but wrapped up. We know all the teams that will be advancing, but there is a small amount of positioning left to do. Your West Division champion is the Houston Astros, and your Central Division champion is the Indians. The American League East has a teeny tiny bit of drama left as the Boston Red Sox hold a three-game lead over the New York Yankees with three games to play. Any win by the Red Sox or loss by the Yankees this weekend would seal up the Division title for Boston. The loser of the East Division will host the home wild card one-game playoff against the surprising Minnesota Twins. There is also a race at the top of the League as the Cleveland Indians hold just a one-game lead over the Houston Astros for the number one seed.
If the season ended today, your current playoff matchups would be the Minnesota Twins at the New York Yankees in the American League wild card, with the winner advancing to play the Cleveland Indians in the Divisional series and the Boston Red Sox at the Houston Astros on the other side of the bracket. With just three games to play I would be quite surprised to see any of this change but this is baseball, so maybe we will get a one-game tie-breaking playoff between the Red Sox and Yankees for the American League East Division title, where the loser will go on to play another one-game playoff against the Minnesota Twins for the rights to play a five-game playoff against the Indians? Or maybe even the Astros? Hey, it’s baseball, weird stuff happens, so you never know!
The National League has its own set of drama as we still have two teams competing for the second wild-card spot. Currently, the Colorado Rockies hold a two-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers with three games to go. This one is a bit more interesting as the Rockies are forced to travel to Los Angeles to play a three-game road series against the best team in all of baseball, the Dodgers, whereas the Brewers play a St. Louis Cardinals team that has been eliminated from playoff contention.
The rest of the National League is all sewn up as the Dodgers have the National League West title and the number one overall seed secured, the Nationals are your East Division champions, and the Chicago Cubs took a very competitive Central Division title. Your playoff matchups will be either Colorado or Milwaukee playing at the Arizona Diamondbacks in a one-game playoff with the winner facing the Dodgers. The Nationals will host the Cubs on the other side of the National League bracket. Now that we have set the scene lets take a look at tonight’s matchup.
Milwaukee Brewers -135 at St. Louis Cardinals +115
Chase Anderson (11-4 2.81 ERA) vs John Gant (0-0 3.65 ERA)
The St Louis Cardinals lost in the most heart-breaking fashion last night to their most hated rivals, the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs clinched the National League Central Division title on their home field and then paraded all over the place celebrating the win. The loss also eliminated the Cards from wild-card playoff contention. It was about as terrible of a day as you can have if you are a Cardinals fan. Now they have to come back out here today and face another division rival, the Milwaukee Brewers, to try and spoil their playoff dreams. One just has to wonder what Cardinals team is going to show up today? Will it be a pissed off Cardinals team hell-bent on redemption after getting brutalized last night? Or will they be a battered and beaten group just hoping for the season to end? If their selection of starters is any clue, it looks like they plan on laying down.
John Gant (0-0 3.65 ERA) is a second-year player that has made a total of one start this year, in which he went three innings in a loss the Pittsburgh Pirates. This isn’t the type of pitcher that instills confidence in a bettor’s mind. This is the type of guy you send to the mound when the game doesn’t matter. Gant was a September call-up that has pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen so far, this month. He has done a serviceable job in that role with a 3.65 ERA, but this isn’t a guy that is going to go deep into a game for you. This is the guy they hope to get 3-4 innings from and turn it over the bullpen. For the Brewers, they will send everything they have left in the must-win game and will start Chase Anderson (11-4 2.81 ERA).
Anderson has been great down the stretch for the Brewers as over the past two months he is 5-2 with an ERA under three. He really has been fantastic in baseball’s second half after having a bit of a rough start to the year. You can expect he will be on a short leash in this one as there is no room for error for Milwaukee.
Since baseball added the second wild-card game, the drama has been amazing in baseball’s last weekend. We have seen clutch performances and high drama and I for one love the new format. This year we had a wide-open race in the American League that ended up settling down just before the season’s last weekend, with the Twins pulling away. The National League is our only hope for having sweat on game 162. For that reason, I am rooting for the Brewers. It’s good for baseball to have meaningful games late in the season and what’s good for baseball is good for America! Well, that and I don’t expect the Cards to get their heads up off the mat after that nasty scene that unfolded yesterday on their home field. Oh, and the starting pitching matchup clearly favors the Brewers. But yeah, America! Give me the Brewers in game one tonight and let’s keep the drama going!
Today’s Pick: Brewers -135