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MLB: Wild Card Series preview

We take a look at the eight sides and four match-ups for the postseason Wild Card spots and who is best placed to face the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series.

MLB agreed to extend the Wild Card places to three for each league and that has increased the amount of interest going into the final weeks.

While it didn't quite set up the final day drama that we were all hoping for, with the playoff structure complete following the penultimate day, it means everything can be rebooted and we should get some cracking three-game series (if they go that far).

American League

Seattle Mariners @ Toronto Blue Jays (winner faces Houston Astros)

Seattle Mariners reached their first postseason since 2001 and now they travel to Canada to face the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, with the Canadians +650 to win the American League title..

The narrative around the Mariners waiting so long to reach the playoffs is nice and most will want that to continue.

However, they face a juggernaut in the Blue Jays, with some pundits having tipped them to be better than the Astros and win the American League pennant. Of course should the Blue Jays win, then what better test than to face Houston in the Division Series.

Tampa Bay Rays @ Cleveland Guardians (winner faces New York Yankees)

Considering the Tampa Bay Rays have one of the smallest budgets in Major League Baseball, their constant presence in the playoffs is highly admirable.

This is their fourth consecutive postseason appearance and while this time they didn't win their division, you can never write off Kevin Cash's team - plus, they have ace pitcher Tyler Glasnow ready to go for Game Two of the Wild Card series.

The Rays are facing a franchise with a lesser payroll than them this year in the Cleveland Guardians.

A brilliant season for team manager Terry Francona as they managed to move ahead of the Minnesota Twins in the final few weeks and kept Division favourites, the Chicago White Sox, at bay all season.

The Guardians will find this series tough and home support will have to be key here as the Rays are a very good team and +1200 to win the American League title.

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National League

San Diego Padres @ New York Mets (winner faces Los Angeles Dodgers)

How are the New York Mets going to feel after missing out on the National League East Division title they had in their grasp for so long, only to blow it at the end by getting swept from the only team that could have caught them, the Atlanta Braves.

While the Braves march on to the NL Division series against either the Philadelphia Phillies or the St.Louis Cardinals, the Mets have to play a three-game Wild Card against the San Diego Padres.

This wasn't how it was supposed to be, but the Mets brushed off their disappointment quickly by sweeping the Washington Nationals in the final series of the regular season. Plus, they will have Max Schezer on the mound for game one of the series, with the Mets +360 to claim the National League title.

The Padres come into the Wild Card series having lost five of their last eight regular season games.

However, in two three-game series over the course of 2022, San Diego won 4-2 against the Mets, they won a couple in San Diego and a couple at Citi Field, where they will battle it out on Friday night. Yu Darvish will be on the mound for the Friars.

Philadelphia Phillies @ St. Louis Cardinals (winner faces Atlanta Braves)

These two sides have a postseason history dating back to 2011 and this is the first time that the Philadelphia Phillies have returned to the playoffs since then, when they faced the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis went on to beat Philadelphia in the Division series and eventually claim the World Series that year by defeating the Texas Rangers. Eight times the Cardinals made the postseason after that, the Phillies never made it back, until now.

The Phillies sacked Joe Girardi in June and Rob Thomson took over as interim boss and despite some wobbles at the end, guided Philadelphia to the postseason. The Fightin' Phils will send up Zach Wheeler for game one of the Wild Card series.

The Cardinals made the postseason last year, however they were blanked by the Dodgers in a one-off Wild Card game.

This season they went one better and won the National League Central to get home advantage with the third best record in the NL and they are +950 to secure the National League title.

The Cards will have Jose Quintana on the mound as they look to get an early lead in the short three-game series at Busch Stadium.

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