Photo Credit: MLB.com
The 2021 MLB regular season concluded on Sunday with a wild finish for playoff berths. Now the hunt for October is upon us and the MLB Wild Card round opens up on Tuesday in the American League and Wednesday in the National League. The Chefs got you covered as we breakdown the two matchups between 4 of the most historic franchises in baseball.
New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox
Photo Credit: ESPN.com
Run line: NYY -1.5 (+140), BOS +1.5 (-160) Over/Under: 8.5 Moneyline: NYY -120, BOS +100
One of the greatest rivalries in all of sports, the Red Sox and the Yankees will clash one more time to move on. The Red Sox have been in control of the AL East all season but have sputtered in the second half. The Yankees had been sub .500 all season, but have had great stretches and bad stretches in the second half. Bother teams couldn’t catch the Tampa Bay Rays and now play at Fenway Park for the chance to face the Rays in the Divisional Round.
The Red Sox bats were inconsistent most of September but may have come alive in the final series against the Nationals. The Red Sox could be without slugger JD Martinez after he tripped over second base on Sunday and sprained his left ankle. If he misses this game, it could be a huge blow to this offense and puts a lot of pressure on star Rafael Devers. Christian Vázquez might need to start at catcher to get more offense, but Kevin Plawecki is Nathan Eovaldi’s battery mate.
The Yankees looked to get the offense going but a series with the Rays brought on a mini slump. The Yankees slugged their way past the Red Sox in Fenway a week ago and need to keep that going. The offense has settled on Gleyber Torres at lead of with DJ LeMahieu heading to the 10-day IR list with a Sports Hernia. Torres has played well since his move to second base, but the offense is led by MVP candidate Aaron Judge and stud Giancarlo Stanton.
The matchup will be Gerrit Cole (16-8) vs Nathan Eovaldi (11-9). Gerrit Cole is pitching on regular rest (set up by Boone) and had an excellent start in Fenway to defeat the Red Sox on 9/24. But Cole also got rocked in his last start against the Blue Jays and he is 2-2 with a 6.15 ERA over his last 5 starts. Cole has been lights out at times (complete game shutout vs Astros) and been a disaster (last 5 ER vs Blue Jays). He spent time on the COVID list last month, but says he is feeling great and has a lot left in the tank.
The former Yankee finally had a health season and Nathan Eovaldi had his best season in a while. Eovaldi allowed 2 earned runs or less in his first 5 starts against the Yankees this season. But in his last start on Sept. 24 vs Cole, the Yankees chased him for 7 hits and 7 runs and was gone in by 3rd inning. But keep in mind, Eovaldi has owned the Yankees since arriving in Boston in 2018.
The Yankees have the clear edge when lining up the two bullpens. The Yankees have gotten even stronger with the returns of Luis Severino and Domingo Germán because they can pitch more than one inning at a time. Jonathan Loáisiga is back after his shoulder issue to go with Chad Green and Clay Holmes. The resurgence of closer Aroldis Chapman has this bullpen as strong as the Yankees thought it would be at the beginning of the season.
Manager Alex Cora has had to mix and match his bullpen since Matt Barnes lost the closer’s role in August. He basically goes by gut, splits, and lefty/righty to get those final outs. You can’t predict who Cora will use at any point in the game because it could be just about anyone. Garrett Whitlock has been Cora’s best reliever all season and should be on one counted on in a big spot for Boston.
I think the Red Sox have the slight edge with the consistent lineup and being at home. But the pitching for the Yankees and their power will be too much to overcome. I expect Gerrit Cole to have a masterful game and push the Yankees on to Tampa.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Photo Credit: TBS Twitter
Run line: STL +1.5 (-115), LAD -1.5 (-105) Over/Under: 7.5r the chance to Moneyline: STL +180, LAD -220
After winning the World Series in 2020, the Dodgers look to become the first team to repeat since the 1998-2000 Yankees. Los Angeles tied a franchise record with 106 wins but couldn’t catch the red-hot Giants to grab the division. The St. Louis Cardinals were left for dead in late August as they were underachieving and a sub .500 team. But a 17-game winning streak has this in the playoffs again with a veteran pitching staff and MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt.
The Cardinals had struggled to stay healthy for most of the season. When the finally got healthy in August, the Cardinals offense was lights out led by Paul Goldschmidt. The Cardinals are 20th in runs and 13th in team batting average. Not bad considering where they started. Nolan Arenado was able to settle into this lineup and they have been a hand full on the NL Central. Tyler O’Neill is one of the hottest hitters on the team with 13 home runs in the last two months.
The Dodgers have one of the best lineups in all of baseball (4th in runs, 5th in on base percentage, and 11th in home runs). But not having Max Muncy after a scary injury Sunday will change the lineup big time. Muncy is 36 home runs that you can’t just replace. They could start Cody Bellinger at first base keep a left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup. With a righty on the mound, you will need all the lefties you can throw at him. Trea Turner is a legit MVP candidate as he leads the league in batting average (.328).
The matchup will be Adam Wainwright (17-7) vs Max Scherzer (15-4). We already know the Cards are sending out veteran Adam Wainwright as that was announced last week. What more can you say about Wainwright, who has seemed to find the fountain of youth. The 40-year-old righty has 17 wins and a 3.05 ERA. He’s a heavy Cy Young contender as he’s leading MLB in complete games (remember what those are?). He is a big game pitcher with a career 2.89 ERA in the playoffs.
The Dodgers have named Max Scherzer their starter as he will be on regular rest. Walker Buehler pitched 5 innings on Sunday to wrap up the season. Since the deadline deal to bring Scherzer and Turner to LA, Scherzer is 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 11 starts. Not only that, but the Dodgers have also won each of his 11 starts.
I thin the Cardinals will put the pressure on the Dodgers to not be a 105-win team to be bounced after only one game. But the Dodgers have an ace they didn’t have last year and Scherzer will pitch them into the Divisional Round.