AL Wild Card Series 2020: Odds, Schedule and Predictions for Opening Round

AL Wild Card Series 2020: Odds, Schedule and Predictions for Opening Round

Members of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Mike Carlson/Associated Press

Heading into Sunday, the final day of play for this year’s abbreviated MLB season, all eight teams for the American League Wild Card round were set; however, a few crucial games determined final seeding.

The Minnesota Twins lost to the Cincinnati Reds, but they were still able to clinch the AL Central thanks to the Chicago White Sox falling to their crosstown rival Cubs. 

Similarly, even though the New York Yankees lost to the Miami Marlins, the Toronto Blue Jays also lost their game to the Baltimore Orioles, allowing New York to lock up the No. 5 seed. 

The Cleveland Indians did not control their own fate, but they locked down the No. 4 seed by defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates and thanks to the White Sox loss. 

Given the pandemic-shortened regular season, the MLB playoffs will look a bit different this year. Eight teams in each league have advanced to the postseason: the division winners, who hold the top three seeds, the second-place team in each division, and the two teams with the next-best records in the league, regardless of division. 

The three teams to win their respective divisions were the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, the Oakland A’s in the AL West and the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. 

The first round of play will be deemed the Wild Card round, featuring eight best-of-three series, with the higher seed hosting all games in this round. The higher seed will host every game.

Once the Wild Card round is set, things become more normal: a best-of-five divisional series, a best-of-seven championship series, and a best-of-seven World Series. 

Let’s take a look at the seeding for each of the eight teams in the AL Wild Card round, as well as their odds and the schedule of play for the next three games. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

MLB playoffs set 🔥

AL matchups
➖ Blue Jays (8) vs Rays (1)
➖ White Sox (7) vs Athletics (2)
➖ Astros (6) vs Twins (3)
➖ Yankees (5) vs Indians (4)

NL matchups
➖ Brewers (8) vs Dodgers (1)
➖ Reds (7) vs Braves (2)
➖ Marlins (6) vs Cubs (3)
➖ Cardinals (5) vs Padres (4)

AL Wild Card Round Matchups and Odds to Win League

No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays (3/1) vs. No. 8 Toronto Blue Jays (15/1)

No. 2 Oakland A’s (5/1) vs. No. 7 Chicago White Sox (13/2)

No. 3 Minnesota Twins (11/2) or vs. No. 6 Houston Astros (11/1)

No. 4 Cleveland Indians (13/2) vs. No. 5 New York Yankees (14/5)

AL Wild Card Round Schedule

Tuesday, Sept. 29

Game 1: Blue Jays at Rays

Game 1: White Sox at A’s

Game 1: Astros at Twins

Game 1: Yankees at Indians

Wednesday, Sept. 30

Game 2: Blue Jays at Rays

Game 2: White Sox at A’s

Game 2: Astros at Twins

Game 2: Yankees at Indians

Thursday, Oct. 1

Game 3: Blue Jays at Rays

Game 3: White Sox at A’s

Game 3: Astros at Twins

Game 3: Yankees at Indians

Start times and TV schedule TBD

The Rays head into the postseason with momentum; even though they passively earned the No. 1 seed in the AL when the A’s fell to the Mariners, the Rays took their own game against the Phillies 4-3. Mike Zunino returned from the injured list on Sept. 20, and Tampa Bay sure is glad he did, as he went 2-for-3 with an RBI Sunday and should be a key contributor in the postseason. The Blue Jays are healthy and feeling confident after clinching their first postseason berth in four years, but it’s a tall order to defeat these No. 1 Rays. Prediction: Rays. 

The home-run special White Sox, powered by starters Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, have played lights-out against left-handed pitchers so far this shortened season, going 14-0 when facing them. How will that play out against the A’s?

Ryan McGuffey @RyanMcGuffey

The #WhiteSox were 14-0 against left handed pitching in 2020.

The A’s have Sean Manaea, Jesus Luzardo & Mike Minor in their rotation.

Should be interesting.

Both teams are looking to win their first playoff round since 2005 (White Sox) and 2006 (A’s). Unfortunately, both would have liked to enter the Wild Card Round with more momentum. The White Sox have lost nine of their last 12; the A’s, three of their last five. But the White Sox, who had the opportunity just days ago to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AL, are primed to upend this series. Prediction: White Sox. 

Along with the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL, the Astros (29-31) become the first team to reach the postseason with a losing record (29-31), as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale pointed out:

Bob Nightengale @BNightengale

The #Brewers and #Astros will be the first teams in #MLB history to reach the postseason with a losing record

The repeat AL Central champion Twins host the Astros, who have been injury-played and have gone 9-23 away from Minute Maid Park. Prediction: Twins.

The Yankees limp into the postseason having lost six of their final eight games and have to face Cy Young Award favorite Shane Bieber in Game 1 against the Indians. That’s not exactly a recipe for postseason success. Prediction: Indians. 

Odds via DraftKings and current as of Sept. 27

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