It’s that time of year again, Baseball Playoff time! Last year, we at Wing Span Sports provided predictions to each round of the MLB Playoffs. Through our predictions we correctly predicted the overall outcome of the World Series, NLCS, ALCS, and 3 of the 4 Divisional Series rounds. In individual games we had a record of 23-15 (13-6 between the Conference Championships and World Series). We also went so far as to predict the exact game in which Aaron Judge broke out of his horrendous end of year slump and the exact game in which Jose Altuve would break out during the World Series. We are back again this year with hopes of providing even better predictions for all our baseball fans that follow us.
The first round of the playoffs begins today, although for both teams they have been in playoff mode for weeks including tiebreakers for both teams in the NL Wild Card game. The tiebreaker, followed by the Wild Card game is a huge disadvantage in most circumstances. However, in this case, both teams have the same disadvantage of having no break between regular season and playoffs. The Cubs do have a slight edge in terms of travel since they hosted the tiebreaker and will also be hosting the Wild Card game.
Both teams had a great performance in game 162 of the season, each scoring 10+ runs in their victory and forcing the tiebreaker. However, they both stalled in the tiebreaker game. Each team could only muster 3 hits in their respective games. For the Cubs, they’re only bright spot was a solo shot off the bat of Anthony Rizzo in the 5th inning. The Rockies looked down and out going into the top of the 9th inning down 5-0 and only recording 2 hits, both of the bat of Charlie Blackmon. Then with Kenley Jansen on the mound for the Dodgers, ready to close out the game, the Rockies showed some fight. The first pitch of inning was a long homer off the bat of Nolan Arenado. The next batter, Trevor Story, turned on the ninth pitch of the at bat to send another ball over the fence.
The Cubs have announced that Jon Lester would take the mound for them in the Wild Card game. In his last 8 starts, Lester posted a remarkable 1.71 ERA with a 6-1 record. Though that looks good on paper, the one loss was to the Brewers. The 6 wins came against the Pirates (2), Phillies, Tigers, Reds, and White Sox, and a no-decision against the Mets. Of those 7 teams, the Pirates 82-79 record is the only one over .500 in the bunch. The 5 games before that tell a different story, as Lester went 0-3 with a pitiful 10.32 ERA. Those 5 teams were the Padres, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, and Nationals. Of that group only the Padres had a record under .500.
The Rockies will be going with their ace Kyle Freeland on short rest in the win-or-go-home game. The second year pitcher had a great season this year and closed it out in style, going 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his final 11 games of the season, including quality starts against the Dodgers (3), Pirates, Braves, Diamondbacks (2), and Nationals. The big question is, can the young pitcher, pitching his first career playoff game, handle the pressure of pitching in an all-or-nothing game against the seasoned veteran Jon Lester?
This game will see the Rockies jump out to an early lead with Blackmon and Trevor Story paving the way with big at bats against Lester. The Cubs will scratch out a few runs in the middle innings to give them a chance. However, those runs will be wiped clean by the Rockies as they get to Lester and chase him from the game in the 5th inning. Freeland will pitch into the 6th inning before being pulled, leaving the bullpen with a lead to secure. The Cubs will have a late inning charge, but will ultimately fall short as the Rockies advance to the NLDS against the Brewers.