All you need to know before the MLB playoffs

All you need to know before the MLB playoffs
The Blue Jays weren't the only team popping champagne in celebration as they secured a playoff berth
The Blue Jays weren't the only team popping champagne in celebration as they secured a playoff berth
After 2,430 games from 30 teams, after six months of baseball, the MLB season is over and now we enter the postseason in the final run to the World Series. Ten teams remain in the fight for the biggest prize in baseball and, here, we explore the first round of the playoffs - the wildcard series.

Due to their superior records across the divisional winners, the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros in the American League and the Los Angeles Dodgers and reigning champions Atlanta Braves, all receive byes to the second of four rounds of the playoffs.

That leaves eight teams, four in each league, battling it out for the chance to move on this weekend in a new format for 2022.


The biggest drought in baseball has finally ended. The Seattle Mariners, who had not made the playoffs for 21 years, are back after claiming the last wildcard spot. The length of their postseason blues is so long, their young star, Julio Rodriguez, was just two months old the last time it happened.

They head to Toronto on Friday to take on a Blue Jays side who have been on their own journey in the last two years. They have built a young side that has thrilled baseball fans over the last two seasons and host their first playoff game at the Rogers Centre since 2016.

Toronto is said to have one of the loudest postseason atmospheres in MLB and the talent of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette and Alek Manoah will taste that for the first time this weekend - a just reward for the last three seasons blighted by Covid.

The hosts will be the favourites given their hitting pedigree, but don’t count out the Mariners. Returning pitcher Robbie Ray - a Toronto player last year - will have a lot to say on the outcome of this best-of-three battle in what is set to be a great projected duel on the mound between him and Kevin Gausman in Game Two.

For the Jays, they will lean on the impressive Bichette, who leads the league in hits this year. He has also been on fire throughout September and October, so watch out for him in the two spot this weekend.

It will be a tight tussle but expect the Toronto Blue Jays to edge out the West Coast side in three games.

The other tie in the AL sees the ever-intriguing Tampa Bay Rays go north to face the AL Central champions, Cleveland Guardians.

It has been a tough year for the Rays with some of their best players out for extended periods of time with injuries.

They have missed the incredible pitching machine of Tyler Glasnow for much of the year and he could be a huge boost if he is passed fit for a late-season tilt.

Despite injuries and a stuttering offence, the Rays remained ruthless, winning 86 games out of 162 despite a below-league average in batting average, hits and runs scored. Their pitching has been great for them and they will still be a huge threat to any side this postseason. 

For the Guardians, this is their first AL Central title since 2018. Unlike the Rays and the Blue Jays, who play in the super competitive AL East, the Central has allowed the Guardians to pick up wins against their divisional opponents and fly slightly under the radar in 2022.

Despite being the third seed in the AL playoffs, they are possibly the worst team of the four in the wildcard round. They have leant on third baseman, Jose Ramirez for a lot of their positive output this season. Ramirez has hit 29 home runs and sits only behind the phenomenal Aaron Judge in RBIs (runs batted in).

Perhaps most striking of all is his intentional walk count (where teams have allowed him to reach first base without swinging the bat). He leads the league with 20 - showing just how much of a threat he is with the bat in his hand.

In this matchup, it will come down to how quiet the Rays’ bats will be. They are not known for putting up a lot of runs, so if the Guardians’ pitching can restrict Tampa at home, then they could be the ones to head to New York to face the Yankees in the next round.


Nostalgia will be the theme of the day when the Philadelphia Phillies head to St Louis to face the Cardinals on Friday with it being the last dance for Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina.

Both veterans have given Cardinals - and baseball - fans so much joy over the years. For Pujols, he has already given himself a seat at the top table with his 700th career home run at the tail-end of the season.

For both players, minds will be focused on a final playoff push. They will be helped by the potential National League most valuable player (MVP), Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in a team full of sluggers as well as a deceptively good pitching staff. 

The Phillies were one of the last teams to make their playoff berth secure. They have struggled at times this season but a fit Bryce Harper could very easily silence the crowd in St Louis this weekend.

For this tie, a magical run for St Louis’ old guard would be the script baseball needs in 2022. The Cardinals in two.

For the final wildcard matchup, we head to New York as the Mets take on the San Diego Padres.

A season that looked like the Mets wouldn’t even be playing in this round was turned upside down by the fast-finishing Atlanta Braves and now they have to take on the Padres instead of putting their feet up this weekend.

They face a West Coast side that have stuttered at times but traded for one of the biggest talents in the game over the summer in Juan Soto. He alone can turn a game and the Mets will be wary of his power and ability to get on base. He will be backed up by Manny Machado as well as a pitching crew that includes a player who has played in World Series before. Blake Snell, who went there with the Rays in 2020, will be hoping to go one step further in 2022.

The Mets have potentially the best roster of starting pitchers in baseball. Jacob deGrom throws quicker than anyone, Max Scherzer is as experienced in postseason baseball as they come and already has a World Series ring with the 2019 Washington Nationals.

Expect him to be rocking on Friday night as they look for the perfect start to their postseason.

The Mets should be able to do the business, which would send them to LA to face the Dodgers - now that’s a mouthwatering prospect.

The biggest shame for international fans is the decision by MLB to not stream these games live on MLB.TV. For fans outside of the US, they will be unable to use a service that they have paid for to watch the most important games of the season.

For a sport trying to grow its audience outside of the US, this is a real slap in the face and given the decision was announced on the eve of the postseason, it will leave many disgruntled and questioning whether they have made the right decision in paying for the streaming service in the first place.

Whether you can or cannot watch the games, you can follow them live with Flashscore over the weekend.