How are playoff teams determined in MLB

MLB Playoffs 2020: Everything you need to know about the Wildcard Series of the American and National League

After a short season in the MLB due to the corona, the playoffs are already pending. Who are the favorites, who has outsider chances and what is the situation at Max Kepler and his Minnesota Twins? SPOX provides the most important information about the first round of the MLB postseason 2020.

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With a race to catch up in the last week of the regular season and the late weak phase of the Chicago White Sox, the Minnesota Twins ultimately secured the title in the American League Central.

As number 3 on the AL seeding list, they go into the playoff race. The Tampa Bay Rays won the AL East confidently and are number 1, the Oakland Athletics in turn secured second place on the seed list as winners of the AL West.

For all series of the wildcard round, all a maximum of three games are played in the home stadium of the higher seed.

The complete 2020 playoff schedule including the mode can be found here!

MLB: Playoff Guide to the American League Wildcard Series

Tampa Bay Rays (# 1, 40-20) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (# 8, 32-28)

  • The Rays won the AL East for the first time since 2010 and did so with good pitching and hitting at the right time. You don't have the one superstar, but a number of hitters that are unpleasant for the opponent and a manager in Kevin Cash who is currently using his bullpen aggressively and making changes at the right time.
  • The Blue Jays, on the other hand, are actually still in the process of rebuilding, so the playoff participation came as a bit of a surprise. This also underlines the fact that they ultimately received more runs than they scored (run difference: -10).
  • Her best man is somewhat surprisingly outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who leads his team in homers and runs batted in. Behind it, the young and wild ones around Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are unpredictable, all of whom played changeable seasons, but are always capable of great moments.
  • Since both teams play in the AL East, they met ten times during the season. The Rays won the Season Series 6-4, but two of these victories were extra inning successes in front of a home crowd. And: In the end, the Jays even scored four more runs in a direct comparison (48:44).
  • In terms of staff, the Jays have basically every man on board, the Rays, on the other hand, will have to do without outfielder Austin Meadows and first baseman Ji-Man Choi. But as a rule, they collect this as a team.
  • All three possible games will take place at Tropicana Field, which is a clear advantage for the Rays - they have a 20-9 record at home this season - the Blue Jays, on the other hand, have a 15-19 record away.

Oakland Athletics (# 2, 36-24) vs. Chicago White Sox (# 7, 35-25)

  • 2020 marked the end of dry spells for both teams. The A's won the AL West for the first time since 2013, while the White Sox can experience the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
  • However, the A's have already reached the playoffs as wild cards in the past two years, but lost the deciding game, so this 3-game series must now be like a blessing for the team from the Bay Area - a defeat would not mean elimination mean.
  • The White Sox actually played a great season, led by veteran Jose Abreu (19 HR, 60 RBI) and young outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. In addition, pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Lucas Giolito, who even pitched a no-hitter, shone. But in the past two weeks the highly talented young team ran out of breath a little - they lost nine times in their past twelve games!
  • The A's, on the other hand, actually played consistently at a high level, although no single player really stood out. The best player on the team is undoubtedly third baseman Matt Chapman, who has been out for weeks with a hip damage and missed the playoffs. But he is also the only big name on both sides who will miss the series.
  • The A's relied mainly on their home advantage in 2020 at the ailing Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, where they played big (22-10). The White Sox, on the other hand, presented themselves more than solid on an unfamiliar place (17-13), so that the venue will not necessarily be decisive.

Home runs, strikeouts and no-hitters: baseball terms explained!

Minnesota Twins (# 3, 36-24) vs. Houston Astros (# 6, 29-31)

  • A game with completely contradicting prerequisites: While the Twins really tightened up again at the end and secured the division with a 16-8 final spurt, the Astros walk on the stick - they ended the year with 16 bankruptcies in the last 24 games.
  • The situation is similar with the staff. The Twins recently got Max Kepler back after an injury break and apart from pitcher Jake Odorizzi have no significant injuries. The Astros, on the other hand, have to do without Designated Hitter Yordan Alvarez and, above all, pitching ace Justin Verlander.
  • The Twins picked up where they left off in 2019: They hit tons of home runs (91) and are led by DH Nelson Cruz (16 HR) to have for every shootout. It was also remarkable that the mostly inconsistent center fielder Byron Buxton spent a good two months together.
  • With the Astros, on the other hand, you look a little for clear strength. The offensive production in recent years has decreased significantly while pitching is no longer a bank. And: The former MVP Jose Altuve played an overall poor season and does not radiate the usual danger.
  • The Astros should not be underestimated: Game 1 starter Zack Greinke can still make the difference on good days, and the team got back right-handed Lance McCullers Jr., who could not be overcome in the past few weeks.
  • However, the target field is a clear advantage for Minnesota, because the Twins are outstanding there (24-7) - the best home record in the MLB 2020! The Astros, on the other hand, were bottomless away (9-23).

Cleveland Indians (# 4, 35-25) vs. New York Yankees (# 5, 33-27)

  • Both teams play mixed seasons, with the Indians having consistently excellent pitching. They only made 209 runs, the lowest in the majors.
  • Game 1 will definitely be must-see TV, because the best pitcher of the season, Cleveland's Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA, 122 strikeouts), meets Yankees-Ace Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA, 94 SO). There may not be a better matchup in the playoffs this year.
  • While the Indians had their problems offensively, one thing in particular stood out: Third baseman Jose Ramirez (17 HR, 46 RBI). He leads a group that has its moments but is not part of the AL's creme de la creme.
  • The Yankees, in turn, went from serious injury to serious injury - actually like last year - and only secured the playoff spot with a strong intermediate sprint. Most recently, however, it put six bankruptcies in ten games.
  • The constants in the team this year were first baseman Luke Voit, who led the MLB with 22 homers, and second baseman DJ LeMahieu, the batting champion (.364). Ultimately, an important factor could be that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, both superstars, got fit on time. The latter, however, is still looking for its shape.
  • In Cleveland, the Indians have been good (18-12), the Yankees bad away (11-18) this season. Especially when they were away, they often lost their power, which is a problem because they rarely manage to get runs without home runs.