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2023 MLB Wildcard Overview

By Hank Blaine

The 2023 MLB playoff field was finalized on Sunday and the best-of-3 wild card round in each league starts on Tuesday. Here’s a quick overview of each series before it kicks off on Tuesday, October 3rd.

A Closer Look at the 2023 MLB Wildcard Round

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Texas fell apart over the weekend and coughed up the AL West title to Houston as it went into play Thursday with a 2-1/2-game lead in the American League West but lost three of four to the Mariners, including 1-0 Sunday in Seattle. That gave the AL West to Houston. Instead of a first-round bye, the Rangers have a long flight to Tampa Bay and a date with the Rays.

The Rangers finished as the No. 5 overall seed. It’s their first time in the postseason since 2016. Tampa Bay finished the regular season with 99 wins, one shy of matching the franchise record set in 2021. The Rays set single-season franchise records for most runs scored (860, surpassing the mark of 857 set in ‘21) and most home runs (230, besting the 2017 team’s 228).

The Rangers won their season series against the Rays, 4-2. Tampa Bay took two of three at home from June 9-11 but got swept in Arlington from July 17-19. They have met twice before in the postseason, with the Rangers winning Division Series matchups in 2010 and 2011.

2023 MLB Wildcard Series Pick: Rays

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Minnesota Twins

It’s the first-ever playoff meeting between these franchises. They split six meetings this year. Minnesota hasn’t won a playoff game since 2004, an 18-game skid. That’s the longest in American pro sports history. The Twins have the AL’s best record in September, and the second-best since the All-Star break. The Twins have scored 20 percent more runs than anyone else in the Junior Circuit in the season’s final month.

Minnesota had 12 players hit 10 or more homers this year, a new club record. The Twins also had 12 players with 40 or more RBIs, tied for the most by any team in the expansion era (since 1961, when the franchise relocated to Minnesota). Toronto is making consecutive trips to the postseason for the first time since 2015-16 and the second time since winning the 1992 and 1993 World Series. The Jays were swept two games at home in last year’s wild card round by Seattle.

By officially clinching their postseason spot Saturday night, before the seeds were sorted, the Blue Jays allowed themselves to bump ace Kevin Gausman off Sunday’s game and move him to Game 1 start in the wild card series.

2023 MLB Wildcard Series Pick: Blue Jays

Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies

NL East rivals face off in a wild card series for the first time ever – the Phillies went from the WC series all the way to the World Series in 2022, losing to Houston in the Fall Classic. The Phillies are 22-11 all time in the postseason at Citizens Bank Park. Among all major league teams in history to play 30+ postseason games at a home venue, the Phillies’ .667 winning percentage at CBP is tied for first with the Mets at the long-gone Shea Stadium.

The Marlins will also be confident facing the Phillies. The Phils are 40-42 against them since 2019 and have lost the season series four of the last five years. Miami faced the Phillies 13 times this season and won the season series, 7-6.

A big question mark is the status of 2023 NL batting champ Luis Arraez, who had just one plate appearance in the Marlins’ final seven games, most of which were must-wins. Arraez, a .354 hitter, is dealing with an ankle injury. The 26-year-old Arraez became only the second player in the Modern Era to capture a batting title in both leagues, joining DJ LeMahieu (Rockies in 2016, Yankees in ‘20), and the first to do so in back-to-back seasons.

2023 MLB Wildcard Series Pick: Phillies

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Arizona finished the regular season with four consecutive losses, backing into the playoffs not by virtue of their own play but because their opponents fell off, one by one. The Snakes are the NL’s No. 6 seed and face NL Central champion Milwaukee.

Over the past week, the Diamondbacks have seen their offense go frozen in their past 42 innings, the team is just 19 for 137 (.139) with no home runs and three runs scored. The Brewers present one of the most potent pitching arsenals in MLB, led by a three-headed monster atop the starting rotation with Corbin Burnes (3.39 ERA), Brandon Woodruff (2.28 ERA) and Freddy Peralta (3.86 ERA).

The Diamondbacks took four of six games against the Brewers this season, winning two of three games at home and on the road. Arizona had the upper hand head-to-head, but the two teams last met in June, when the Brewers lineup featured a number of players (Rowdy Tellez, Jesse Winker, Owen Miller, Brian Anderson, Raimel Tapia, Luis Urías and Joey Wiemer) who aren’t likely to be in the playoff lineup. D-backs ace Zac Gallen threw 14 innings with one earned run in two starts against Milwaukee.

2023 MLB Wildcard Series Pick: Brewers

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READ MORE: 2023 World Series Odds (October)

*All odds stated are subject to change without prior notice.