top of page

Previewing the 2022 American League MLB Playoffs

Since Major League Baseball upped the number of playoff teams per conference from just four (three division winners and just one wild card) the number of teams and post-season games have changed a bit over the past few years. I never understood how a sport that has each team play 162 regular season games could have a wild card playoff game. Not a series, not even close to a best-of-seven, but just one game. It didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. With such a long regular season it must be tough for fans to know their team isn't going to make the playoffs and then watch them play 100 more games. Likewise, a fan could see their team play 100 games and be the middle of the pack with little shot at a playoff berth. This season both conferences have six teams total, three division winners and three wild card spots. The Wild Card Series will be a best-of-three with the higher seed having home field advantage for every single game. This also means that the top two seeds of each conference will have byes and will actually have a few days to rest, which is all too important when it comes to your pitchers. The extra game tiebreakers were also removed.

Here is a look at this year's American League playoff bracket:

We will start off with the Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Guardians. These two teams match up quite well against each other as they have similar strengths and weaknesses. Neither club hit a lot of long balls this year but rather relied heavily on quality pitching. I can't see a blowout happening in this series and would be surprised if we didn't have it go to game three. With only three games it could be a coin flip so either team winning wouldn't be much of a surprise but I'd give the slightest of edges to Cleveland just because pitcher Tyler Glasnow for the Rays is so recent from his return from injury. Shane McClanahan I think will pitch a win for the Rays but not quite enough healthy depth behind him so my guess is Cleveland 2-1. But this one really could go any way. The winner will face the New York Yankees. The Yankees led the American League in runs, homeruns, RBI's, and walks. I think the Yankees offense will be too much for either club to handle and a sweep or win in four games of the best-of-five Divisional round for the Bronx Bombers is what I expect.

The other Wild Card matchup is between the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. Having just used pitcher Marco Gonzales on Wednesday he isn't expected to make a start at all against Toronto. Seattle also used every relief pitcher less one during their doubleheader on Tuesday. Simply put, their pitchers aren't going to be fully rested and given Toronto will have home field advantage I expect the Blue Jays to take this one. The winner will then face the Houston Astros, the only American League team to hit triple digit wins with 106. Given that neither Seattle nor Toronto had a run differential of +100 or better and Houston sits at +219 and has the fewest runs allowed in the AL with just 518 I expect Houston to take it. I think the rest benefits of having four days off for the teams with byes will simply be too much to overcome and the Divisional rounds will easily go to the top seeds.

If it comes down to the Yankees and Astros as the seeding would predict it is very noteworthy that the Yankees and Astros were the only two AL teams this season with +200 run differential and also less than 600 runs allowed. The Yankees are the only AL team to break 800 runs scored with 807, 70 more than Houston. If we look back at the regular season where these two clubs met up seven times with two series, one in NY and one in Houston the record is highly in Houston's favor. They split four games, each winning two in NY. While in Houston the Astros swept the Yankees in a three game series. Being the higher seed the Astros will have that extra home game advantage if needed. New York was shut out once, held to just one run twice and held to just two runs once in those seven games. In fairness the two teams have not played since July. But the Yankees will have to do more than just rely on Aaron Judge and the offense. They will need to be great on both sides of the ball to pull out a victory. I see the Houston Astros winning 4-2. But if the Yankees have a hot streak that offense will be hard to stop.


bottom of page