The 2020 MLB playoff wild card round is the most unique and expansive it's ever been after the abbreviated 60-game regular season. They're expanded to 16 teams from the usual 10, and the first round features a best-of-three Wild Card Series in which the higher seed hosts all the games. Here is a preview of the first round matchups.
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays - While I think that the Blue Jays are going to pose a threat in this series thanks to their strong lineup, the Rays rotation should be able to get in some lengthy starts in this series and quiet Toronto's offense. Plus, Tampa is coming into this round with a lot of momentum. Rays in 2.
New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians - The Yankees offense has been far superior. The rotation matchups in this series could make for some tight games, but the New York club has the edge here. Yankees in 3.
Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins - Minnesota has lost 16 straight postseason games coming in, but even so, the Astros are not good so I don't see this one being close. The Astros stumbled their way into the postseason, while the Twins edged out Cleveland and the White Sox in a competitive, top-heavy AL Central. Even though the club isn't fully percent healthy heading into the postseason, Minnesota still looks ready to end their 16-game playoff losing streak. Twins in 2.
Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics - This'll be a really fun matchup. Chicago's powerful and deep lineup is likely to face one of Oakland's leftys (Luzardo, Manaea) to start the series, and this season, the White Sox went 14-0 against left-handers. The A's bullpen is a strength, but if their offense stays stagnant, they won't be able to overcome Chicago. White Sox in 3.
Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers - The Brewers are not going to be sending out a team equipped to beat the best team in baseball. Dodgers in 2.
St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres - The Padres have question marks for a few guys' availability heading into this series, but I don't see the injury concerns being enough of a reason for this club to get knocked out by the Cardinals. San Diego owns one of the best offenses in baseball and their bullpen is deep, but more importantly, they're simply better than St. Louis in nearly every category. Definitely giving the Cards props for even making the playoffs this year. After their COVID-19 outbreak in August, the club was forced to play 11 doubleheaders, including six in September. Padres in 2.
Miami Marlins at Chicago Cubs - The Marlins are not just an underdog in this year's postseason, but they're an underdog with an impressive front-half rotation. But, I think they're going to need more than that if they're hoping to advance past the first round. Miami finished the season with the worst run differential in their division, and up against Darvish and Hendricks, the Marlins hitters will need to show up better and more consistently than they have all season. Cubs in 3.
Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves - The Reds haven't lived up to the high expectations set this offseason, and Atlanta's offense has been one of the best in the league. They'll face a challenge up against Bauer, Gray and Castillo, but the chances of Cincy's rotation getting the run support it deserves are low. Braves in 3.