MLB Wild Card & Division Series Previews

2022 MLB Postseason Bracket, Courtesy of

Gwen Reoch, George Koral, and David Truman

The Major League Baseball playoffs are here! After uncertainty if baseball would be played at all in 2022 due to the MLB Lockout, this season was full of surprises, disappointment and 162 games of fun. One of the changes made by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is a new playoff format, allowing 12 total teams in, an expansion from previous years. The Astros and Yankees earned first round byes in the American League, as well as the Dodgers and Braves in the National League, so they will take on the winners of the four matchups below. In next week’s edition of The Mac Weekly, we will recap the Wild Card Round (previewed below) and the Division Series, as well as put in our predictions for the AL and NL Championship Series.


AL 3 v 6:

Cleveland Guardians vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Preview: There’s no better story in sports than the success of an underdog, and that’s exactly what this matchup features. The Rays have been at the top of baseball for the past few years, relying on internal development and scouting to overcome extreme payroll restrictions. After losing the 2020 World Series, Tampa have been hunting the elusive ring to cap off their improbable stretch of progress. Getting back ace Tyler Glasnow from a year-long injury this week should provide a big boost. On the other side, the Guardians have been the shock of the season, winning an AL Central division that nobody thought they’d be competitive in with a bottom-three payroll. Not only are they the youngest team in baseball, but also have a lower average age than every AAA (highest minor league level) team. Relying on long-tenured stars Shane Bieber and Jose Ramirez, along with many breakout talents, the Guardians look to keep making waves in baseball this year.

GR: No doubt in my mind that the Guardians take this series easily. Glasnow could make things tough, but the Guardians offense hasn’t stopped rolling all year. The hurdle I can see for Cleveland is inexperience – even with a young team, the Rays know what playing in October is like.

GK: The Guardians have taken baseball by storm and I don’t see their momentum ending anytime soon. Their bullpen has been nearly unhittable over the last two months, so as long Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie leave the game with a lead there shouldn’t be much room for a Tampa Bay victory. 

DT: Honestly this matchup is for the taking for either team. While the Guardians are much better on paper, it is always a mistake to count out the Rays, especially in the postseason. Look for impact players like Jose Ramirez for Cleveland and Tyler Glasnow for Tampa to make their presence felt, trying to give their team the push they need. I’ll give the old guys the benefit of the doubt and expect them to capitalize on the inexperience of the Guardians. The Rays are taking this one. 


AL 4 v 5:

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Seattle Mariners

Preview: If you love watching young stars win games in electric fashion, make sure to tune into this battle between two teams that have completely reinvented themselves over the past few years. The Blue Jays, led by former #1 overall prospect Valdimir Guerrero Jr., will look to their heavy-hitting offense to overcome a young Mariners pitching staff that has been electric all year. Mariners rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez has battled injuries, but is back and ready to make the most of the team’s first playoff appearance since their historic 2001 campaign. Both teams were eliminated from the 2021 playoffs on the last day of the regular season and will be eager to finally get their big chance.

GR: I absolutely love this Mariners team and think they ride the hype around them to a victory. In my opinion, the probable Game 1 pitching matchup between Kevin Gausman and Luis Castillo decides the series, in which I’ll give the nod to “America’s Team”. It’s been so fun watching guys like Eugenio Suarez, Cal Raleigh and Ty France win games in consistently exciting ways this year, and I don’t think this is the end of the road for them.

GK: The Mariners have been arguably the most exciting team in baseball. However, I think that the Blue Jays will win this matchup in three games. The Blue Jays have one of the most well rounded lineups in baseball, led by Bo Bichette, George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and breakout star Alejandro Kirk. The Blue Jays have been gearing up for the playoffs for the last few years, and as the top wild card team, they have an opportunity to play spoiler and end a magical year for the Mariners.

DT: While the storyline surrounding this young, fiery Mariners team is certainly something to root for, I think that the Jays lack a real soft spot in their lineup. Seven out of their nine hitters hit more than 20 home runs this year and with a strong pitching staff, they are likely to put a quick end to Seattle’s first postseason appearance in 21 years. Look for some close games but the Blue Jays are going to be too much for the Mariners to handle.  


NL 3 v 6: 

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Preview: For the first time in 11 years, the Phillies have made the playoffs, coming out of nowhere to take the Brewers’ wild card spot. They don’t have an easy journey ahead, as they prepare to face the St. Louis Cardinals, who are finishing up a terrific season. Led by potential MVP Paul Goldschmidt and Platinum Glove winner Nolan Arenado, the Cardinals look to overpower the Phillies pitching with their relentless offense. The Phillies hope to counter the Cardinals with their superb starting pitching, alongside the NL Home Run leader, Kyle Schwarber, and the reigning NL MVP, Bryce Harper. Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, who are retiring after this year, are determined to make quick work of the Phillies, in hopes of winning their third World Series title as a trio. 

GR: Call me crazy, but I don’t think the best team in this matchup is the one that wins it. The Cardinals have one of the most complete rosters in baseball and so many amazing storylines, but their biggest weakness is what will give the Phillies the upper hand – impact pitching. With Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler pitching the first two games, I think the best-of-three series format favors Philly to snatch the upset.

GK: Both teams have big bats to be reckoned with, so as Gwen pointed out, this all comes down to the starting pitching. Adam Wainwright is no stranger, pitching in 30 playoff games, so this is nothing new for him. Inversely, neither Nola nor Wheeler have ever stepped foot on the mound in the playoffs, so making their first appearance in front of the deafening crowd at Busch Stadium might be quite the undertaking. If the crowd can successfully energize Goldschmidt, Arenado, Pujols and Molina, the Cardinals should be able to win this series.

DT: These teams are much more similar offensively than might be expected, so the pitching will likely be the deciding factor in this series. If the Phillies can stop the likely NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt and the other Cardinals bats using Nola and Wheeler, the series is theirs for the taking. However, I believe the St. Louis pitching staff is much deeper and will take them farther into this postseason than simply relying on two, admittedly dominant, starters. 


NL 4 v 5: 

New York Mets vs. San Diego Padres


The Mets spent the year proving their high expectations correct, spending 175 straight days in first place of their division, before giving up the lead in a late collapse that has loomed questions over their ability to succeed in the postseason. They feature an extremely strong rotation, headlined by stars Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer, along with a lineup that can be one of the best in the majors when they’re on their game. The Padres have underperformed despite a heavy amount of excitement in the last few years, with acquired stars not playing as well as expected. This year, they’ve had to deal with their best player, Fernando Tatis Jr., being injured and suspended, but MVP-level play from Manny Machado has made up for Tatis’ absence. Their rotation, full of well-known veterans, can dominate at their best but are ultimately . Both of these teams just need to play to their known potential to not only win this series, but make waves throughout the postseason. 

GR: I have a soft spot for both these teams, and it’s a really tough choice. I’ve gotta lean Mets though; it’s impossible to choose against DeGrom and Scherzer when they just need two wins to advance. I think these games are going to be decided late, and the Mets also have the best closer in baseball to put them over the edge. 

GK: Although their offense has been lackluster in the last couple weeks, I have no doubt that the Mets will take this series from the Padres. The Padres offense, despite the addition of Juan Soto, has been feeble since his addition, playing around .500 baseball since the trade deadline. If the Mets hitters can exhaust opposing pitching like they have all year and their pitchers can handle Soto and Machado, the Mets should have an easy series win. DT: The seeding makes this matchup seem much closer than it actually is. Despite the Mets’ skid lately, their star power is going to make itself seen at some point. Whether it’s through a classic DeGrom or Scherzer pitching performance, or one of their offensive cogs like Francisco Lindor or Pete Alonso finding their rhythm, the Mets are going to take down Machado and the Padres pretty handily.