By ZACH GILLELAND
162 games have come and gone.
It’s time to see which team will take home the most coveted prize in all of baseball, the Commissioner’s Trophy and win the World Series. But first, The Flyer predicts which team will win the MLB Wild Card Games and advance to the division rounds.
See Zach’s 2017 MLB awards predictions here.
AL WILD CARD GAME: NEW YORK YANKEES VS MINNESOTA TWINS (Tuesday, 8 p.m. on ESPN)
The Yankees make their return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015 after missing last season, a rarity for the men in pinstripes. Highlighted by a young offense led by slugger Aaron Judge, the front runner for AL Rookie of the Year and an MVP candidate, the Yankees finished 2017 with a 91-71 record and will host the Wild Card Game.
Facing the Bronx Bombers are arguably the most surprising team in all of baseball—the Minnesota Twins. The worst team in the MLB last season with a 59-103 record, the Twins come into the postseason with an 85-77 record, a 26-game improvement and the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs after losing 100 games a season prior.
Minnesota goes with their ace Ervin Santana on the mound. The 34-year-old veteran holds a 16-8 record with a 3.28 ERA and 167 strikeouts. The Yankees go with a player that was a mere 11 years old when Santana made his debut in 2005 in Luis Severino.
Severino holds a 14-6 record with a 2.98 ERA that’s good for third in the American League and 230 strikeouts.
Prediction: New York Yankees win 6-4
The Yankees offense is just too good for a Minnesota team that has questions in the bullpen after trading closer Brandon Kintzler at the trade deadline. The Twins make it close, but the Yankees pull away late.
NL WILD CARD GAME: COLORADO ROCKIES VS ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (Wednesday 8 p.m. on TBS)
A National League West matchup, Wednesday’s game has all the makings to be an offensive flurry. Both teams boast explosive offenses and hitter-friendly ballparks respectively.
The Rockies enter the playoffs for just the fourth time in team history. Led by All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, Colorado finished 2017 with a record of 87-75. The Rockies clinched their ticket to the postseason on the final day of the season, holding off the Milwaukee Brewers by one game.
The team enters the Wild Card Game holding the National League’s best batting average at .273 and outfielder Charlie Blackmon led the League with a .331 average.
Hosting will be the Arizona Diamondbacks, another surprising team that finished last season with 93 losses. The Diamondbacks finished second in the NL West with a 93-69 record in manager Torey Lovullo’s first season at the helm.
Led offensively by MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and mid-season addition J.D. Martinez, the duo combined for 81 home runs on the season. Martinez, since being acquired from the Detroit Tigers, has hit 29 out of his 45 home runs in just 62 games for the club.
On the mound for the Rockies is righty Jon Gray. Gray missed some time this season but holds a 10-4 record with a 3.67 ERA and 112 strikeouts.
Facing Gray will be the Diamondbacks’ Zack Greinke. The 2009 Cy Young Award winner holds a 17-7 record with a 3.20 ERA and 215 strikeouts.
Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks win 5-3
A home field advantage for the team, the Diamondbacks win with a solid performance from their starter. Arizona won the season series 11-8.