Two dominating pitching performances wrapped up both 2015 Wild Card games in tight little bows, setting the tone for a postseason which will be primarily about the men on the mound.
American League Cy Young candidate Dallas Keuchel tossed six innings of three-hit ball in the Houston Astros‘ 3-0 shutout over the New York Yankees, while National League Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta suffocated the Pittsburgh Pirates with 11K’s over nine, putting the ‘Stros and Cubbies into Round 2 (the Division Series).
Houston now has 19-game winner Collin McHugh set for Game 1 against the Kansas City Royals (who have the weakest staff of the remaining playoff teams). Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs have another two pitchers with under-4.00 ERAs (Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks) prepped as they get ready for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards have five starters with double-digit wins – all of whom have ERAs of 3.38 or less!
But, the pitching match up of the early postseason is unquestionably that of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ staff against the New York Mets‘. The Dodgers will have the two best hurlers in all of baseball today – Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke – pittted against the Mets’ young-gun trifecta of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey.
Buckle up for some nail-biters.
Let’s take a look at today’s list, then.
The one-game Wild Card Round has been around for four years now – and checking out the results, one thing stands out immediately. Home-field advantage doesn’t exist. Six of the eight games so far have been won by the away team.
No team has yet to win more than one Wild Card game and only one team has even appeared in more than one. The Pirates have made the NL’s WCG as the home team the past three seasons. Hey Bucs, it’s time to win the division.
One more very notable note: You think the Wild Card teams have no shot at winning the World Series? Not true. Just remember 2014, when both WC winners made it to the Fall Classic, and the San Francisco Giants won it all in seven.Follow @VinGetz
|2015||Houston Astros||3||NEW YORK YANKEES||0||TBD|
|2014||KANSAS CITY ROYALS||9||Oakland A’s||8||12 inn.||Lost World Series 4-3 (San Francisco Giants)|
|2013||Tampa Bay Rays||4||CLEVELAND INDIANS||0||Lost ALDS 3-1 (Boston Red Sox)|
|2012||Baltimore Orioles||5||TEXAS RANGERS||1||Lost ALDS 3-2 (New York Yankees)|
|2015||Chicago Cubs||4||PITTSBURGH PIRATES||0||TBD|
|2014||San Francisco Giants||8||PITTSBURGH PIRATES||0||Won World Series 4-3 (Kansas City Royals)|
|2013||PITTSBURGH PIRATES||6||Cincinnati Reds||2||Lost NLDS 3-2 (St. Louis Cardinals)|
|2012||St. Louis Cardinals||6||ATLANTA BRAVES||3||Lost NLCS 4-3 (San Francisco Giants)|
Winning the pennant has sure gotten harder over the years. In the beginning, if your team won its league (National or American), it won the pennant and went on to the World Series. This went on until 1969, when the NL and AL were divided into East and West.
Now a series was needed – the NL or AL Championship Series (NLCS and ALCS) – to determine which division winner (East or West) earned the pennant and the right to the World Series. These series were best-of-5 until 1985 when they went to a best-of-7.
In 1995, wild cards were introduced and another round of playoffs (the LDS or League Division Series) had to be hurdled to get to the Fall Classic.
Then, in 2012, a one-game play-in between the two wild cards in both leagues was introduced.
But the good ol’ ALCS and NLCS continue to determine the pennant winners to this day.
And here are all those winners (ALCS today, NLCS tomorrow), sorted by teams with the most NL or AL titles.
Did they win the World Series that year? They did if there’s an asterisk.Follow @VinGetz
|ALCS WINNER||#||SEASON||ALCS LOSER||SERIES|
|1.||New York Yankees||11||1976||Kansas City Royals||3-2|
|1977*||Kansas City Royals||3-2|
|1978*||Kansas City Royals||3-1|
|1999*||Boston Red Sox||4-1|
|2003||Boston Red Sox||4-3|
|2009*||Los Angeles Angels||4-2|
|2.||Oakland A’s||6||1972*||Detroit Tigers||3-2|
|1988||Boston Red Sox||4-0|
|1989*||Toronto Blue Jays||4-1|
|1990||Boston Red Sox||4-0|
|3.||Baltimore Orioles||5||1969||Minnesota Twins||3-0|
|1983*||Chicago White Sox||3-1|
|3.||Boston Red Sox||5||1975||Oakland A’s||3-0|
|2004*||New York Yankees||4-3|
|5.||Detroit Tigers||3||1984*||Kansas City Royals||3-0|
|2012||New York Yankees||4-0|
|6.||Cleveland Indians||2||1995||Seattle Mariners||4-2|
|6.||Kansas City Royals||2||1980||New York Yankees||3-0|
|1985*||Toronto Blue Jays||4-3|
|6.||Minnesota Twins||2||1987*||Detroit Tigers||4-1|
|1991*||Toronto Blue Jays||4-1|
|6.||Texas Rangers||2||2010||New York Yankees||4-2|
|6.||Toronto Blue Jays||2||1992*||Oakland A’s||4-2|
|1993*||Chicago White Sox||4-2|
|11.||Anaheim Angels||1||2002*||Minnesota Twins||4-1|
|11.||Chicago White Sox||1||2005*||Los Angeles Angels||4-1|
|11.||Milwaukee Brewers||1||1982||California Angels||3-2|
|11.||Tampa Bay Rays||1||2008||Boston Red Sox||4-3|
With all the talk about the Royals finally making the postseason after a looong 28 years, you’d think it was the only team getting over a huge hump. Not even close.
The hapless Orioles have made the playoffs four times during that period (including 2014), but they’ve been waiting for a ring even longer than KC.
And the Nationals? Don’t get me started. Since moving to Washington, the Nats franchise has made the postseason twice (again, including this season) in 10 years. But, if you include the Montreal Expos, that’s just three playoff appearances in 46 years – and no title either. Top that.
Well, it’s hard to match those postseason numbers, but there are four other teams that have waited even longer for a championship than the Montreal-Washington franchise.
Two have never hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy at all, both out of Texas. The Texas Rangers (1961, as the second iteration of the Washington Senators) and Houston Astros (1962, as the Colt .45’s) have never won the World Series.
The Cleveland Indians have been around since the National and American Leagues “unified” into Major League Baseball (1901, as the Cleveland Blues) and have two titles to their credit (1920 and 1948). But that last one, was their last one. It’s been 66 years.
Of course, though, no team in American sports can touch the accursed Chicago Cubs. There’s hardly a person alive that saw them win it all. It’s been over a century – 106 years, man!
You have to hand it to Cubs fans. Loyal, fervent bunch. Some of the best fans in baseball.Follow @VinGetz
|TEAM||YEARS SINCE LAST WORLD SERIES TITLE||LAST TITLE||FRANCHISE NOTES|
|3.||Texas Rangers||54||None||Includes Washington Senators II|
|4.||Houston Astros||53||None||Includes Houston Colt .45’s|
|5.*||Washington Nationals||46*||None||Includes Montreal Expos|
|5.||Milwaukee Brewers||46||None||Includes Seattle Pilots|
|5.||San Diego Padres||46||None|
|12.*||Kansas City Royals||28*||1985|
|12.||New York Mets||28||1986|
|14.*||Los Angeles Dodgers||25*||1988|
|19.||Toronto Blue Jays||21||1993|
|21.||Tampa Bay Rays||17||None||Includes Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|23.*||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||11*||2002|
|23.||Miami Marlins||11||2003||Includes Florida Marlins|
|25.||Chicago White Sox||9||2005|
|27.||New York Yankees||5||2009|
|28.*||St. Louis Cardinals||2*||2011|
|29.*||San Francisco Giants||1*||2012|
|29.||Boston Red Sox||1||2013|
* As of the date of this post, these teams are still alive in the postseason, so I have not added 2014 to their drought numbers (yet).