Wild ride: MLB playoffs start with two intriguing wild card battles

10/06/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

The 2015 MLB season came down to the last day before the post season was set. Following the exciting finish to the regular season comes the nervousness and excitement for fans in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Houston, and New York, where those teams seasons will come down to 1 game. Let's take a look at this year's Wild Card matchups.
National League: Chicago at Pittsburgh Wednesday at 8pm
The reward for having the 2nd best and 3rd best records in baseball? Getting to play each other in a one game, loser goes home Wild Card game. The Pirates clinched home field by winning their final regular season game, and for the 3rd straight year will host the NL Wild Card game. The Cubs won the season series, going 11 and 8 against the Pirates. This game will feature quite the pitching matchup with Chicago's Jake Arrieta going against Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole. Arrieta led MLB with 22 wins and his 1.77 ERA is second best in the majors. Cole's 19 wins were tied for 3rd most in MLB, and his 2.60 ERA is 5th lowest in the National League. Arrieta posted a 0.90 ERA since the All Star Break, which is the best in MLB history. He went 13 and 1 on the road in 2015 with a 1.60 ERA. Arreita went 3 and 1 against the Pirates this season with a 0.75 ERA. The only Pirates hitters to bat over .200 against Arreita are Andrew McCutchen (.333) and Neil Walker (.231). Cole went 2 and 1 against Chicago with a no decision as well. Neither pitcher gave up a home run versus the other team in their regular season starts. Pittsburgh has split their home Wild Card games over the past 2 years, beating Cincinnati in 2013 and losing to San Francisco last season. Chicago is back in the post season for the first time since 2008, and are looking to win their first post season game since 2003. The winner will travel to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals on Friday.

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American League: Houston at NY Yankees Tuesday at 8pm
For the first time since the 2005 World Series, the Houston Astros are back in the post season, while the Yankees return for the first time since 2012. The Yankees head into this Wild Card game having lost 6 of their final 7 regular season games. The Astros won 6 of their final 8 games, but lost home field for the Wild Card when they dropped their season finale to Arizona. That proves to be a huge advantage for the Yankees, as the Astros were tied for the most home wins in MLB with 53, but went 33 and 48 on the road. Houston won 4 of the 7 regular season meetings between these teams and 2 of the 3 games played at Yankee Stadium. Houston will start Dallas Keuchel, who's 20 wins led the American League and were second most in MLB. Keuchel's 2.48 ERA was second lowest in the AL as well. The Yankees will go with Masahiro Tanaka, who was 12 and 7 with a 3.51 ERA on the regular season. In his only appearance against Houston, Tanaka had a no decision in giving up 6 runs in 5 innings, including surrendering 3 home runs. Keuchel won both of his starts against the Yankees, including a complete game, and did not give up an earned run in 16 innings. The winner of this will travel to Kansas City on Thursday.

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