The expanded MLB post-season allowed more wild card teams in from each league this year, leading to eight teams battling it out for the right to advance to the Division Series round against the four best teams in the major leagues. The Yankees, Astros, Dodgers, and Braves all earned themselves rest days as the Jays, Mariners, Mets, Padres, Guardians, Rays, Phillies, and Cardinals all dueled for the right to advance.
Several stunning upsets saw underdog teams advance to the Division Series round this year. Here’s how the teams stacked up.
The Tampa Bay Rays, one of the most determined teams in baseball, lost to the Cleveland Guardians in two games over the weekend. The Rays have been contenders in the postseason for the past several years despite not spending as much money as some of their biggest rivals.
The Guardians, sporting a new name and new outfits, have had a stunning season. They’ll have their work cut out for them against the Yankees, though, where Aaron Judge and company are waiting to test their mettle.
The Seattle Mariners broke the longest active postseason drought in baseball when they made the playoffs this year. They then stunned everyone when they beat the Jays in two games, sweeping their rivals out of the post-season and securing a battle against might Houston Astros.
The Astros are going to be a tough customer for the scrappy Mariners, but the team has showcased impressive resolve so far. They fought back from a seven-run deficit against the Jays in the first game, so they’ve clearly got heart.
The Phillies punched way above their weight class in their surprising two-game victory over the Cardinals this weekend. The Fighting Phils, led by veteran hitter Bryce Harper, now need to face off against the 500-pound-gorilla, their division rival, the Atlanta Braves.
With the Braves’ offense making short work of opponents and the Phillies’ own bats a question at best, it’ll be interesting to see how the teams line up in the NLDS.
Perhaps the most surprising outcome in the wild card round was the Padres’ 2-1 win over the New York Mets. The Mets had their best season in decades, finally breaking into the playoffs after posting an impressive 101 wins – but still losing the NL East division race to their indomitable rivals, the Braves.
Then, the Padres came to town and everything fell apart. The Mets’ best season in a generation ended unceremoniously, and now the scrappy Padres are on their way to battle the unbeatable-looking Dodgers.