Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Breaking Down the Wildcard Race

The race for the second AL wildcard is coming down to the wire. Right now the Astros are clinging to a two game lead over and Twins and two and a half over the Angels. Here's a full breakdown of who will win.
Starting pitching
Its Gibson-Hughes-Santana-Duffy-Pelfrey for the Twins (and eventually Milone in for one of those guys when he comes back) vs. Richards-Shoemaker-Weaver-Heaney-Santiago with the Angels and Keuchel-McCullers-Kazmir-McHugh-Hernandez for Houston. We can rule the Twins out right away, although Gibson's having an underrated season and Duffy's been solid so far. I'll go with the Astros. Starters 3-5 are pretty similar for both teams, but Keuchel and McCullers are way better than anything the Angels can throw at you.
Edge: Astros
The Astros have a brand of baseball unlike any other team in the league: hit the ball as far as you can and don't worry about anything else. They have hit the second most homers in the league at 209, behind only the Blue Jays and are also second in strikeout percentage, whiffing 23% of the time. Obviously Mike Trout gives the Halos a massive boost, but they have no chance against a deep Houston lineup.
Edge: Astros
Once again, the most obvious answer here is "not the Twins". The Astros, on the other hand have been no less than dominant. Led by Pat Neshek, Will Harris and Luke Gregerson, they've struck out over nine batters per nine innings, en route to a 3.20 ERA, good for third in the American league.
Edge: Astros
Even with Jose Altuve and Carlos Gomez, the Astros have no chance here because of their style of play. The Twins have the potential to be Royals-esque in the outfield with Hicks, Buxton and Rosario, but right now with Hunter in right field it's the Angels. Trout moves like a gazelle in center field, and David Freese is a solid fielding third baseman.
Edge: Angels
This one's a push. None of the teams can anyone who can make a real difference from behind the plate. Although the Twins can use Buxton as a pinch runner or defensive sub late in the game.
Edge: Twins
It should be the Astros. On paper, they're the best. They have the most talent, they've been the best all year, and yet somehow, they're not. Why that is is a column for later, but they're just faltering for whatever reason. I feel like the Twins are still a year away, so that leaves the Angels. They're red-hot right now during a perfect part of their schedule, it's theirs for the taking.
Edge: Angels

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