MLB’s first ever wild card series weekend is in full swing. And as many as four teams could be sent packing today.
As the playoff field expands to 12 teams for the 2022 postseasonfour best-of-three series will determine which teams will advance to the ALDS (against either the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees) and NLDS (against either the Atlanta Braves or Los Angeles Dodgers).
Saturday’s festivities begin with the visiting Tampa Bay Rays looking to stave off elimination against the Cleveland Guardians, followed by the Seattle Mariners hoping to beat the Blue Jays in Toronto. Then it’s the New York Mets trying to avoid a home sweep against the San Diego Padres and, finally, the Philadelphia Phillies eyeing a series win against the Cardinals in St.
Follow the action below throughout the day with start times, pitching matchups and starting lineups as they are announced, followed by in-game updates and takeaways after each game is completed.
More: Everything you need to know about the 2022 MLB playoffs | Greatest postseason…ever? | Ace rankings (ESPN+)| Bracket, results and more
Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Guardians (12:07 PM ET on ESPN2)
Rangers lead series 1-0
Radio starter: Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 10K, 1.35 ERA)
Rangers starter: Triston McKenzie (11-11, 190K, 2.96 ERA)
1. Yandy Diaz (R) 3B
2. Wander Franco (S) SS
3. Randy Arozarena (R) LF
4. Harold Ramirez (R) DH
5. Ji-Man Choi (L) 1B
6. isaac walls (R) 2B
7. Manuel Margot (R) RF
8. Christian Bethancourt (R)C
Jose Siri (R) CF
1. Steven Kwan (L) LF
2. Amed Rosario (R) SS
3. Joseph Ramirez (S) 3B
4. Josh Naylor (L) 1B
5. Oscar Gonzalez (R) RF
6. Andres Gimenez (L) 2B
7. Will Brennan (L) DH
8. Austin Hedges (R)C
9. Myles Straw (R) CF
What to watch out for: After a Game 1 loss, it will be the right Glasnow to save the Rays’ season on Saturday. It’s quite the challenge considering he just returned to make his first two starts down the stretch (allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings) after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2021. Glasnow and the Rays staff both say the 28 -annual -old’s stuff is as good as ever, but he will be limited to 4-5 innings in Game 2.
Normally, that would be an unusual strategy in an elimination game, but it’s business as usual for a Tampa Bay team quite used to turning things around in their bullpen. The Rays led the majors in innings pitched by relievers, and no other 2022 postseason team finished higher than 11th. It’s a feature for the Rays — not a bug.
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old McKenzie will take the mound with a chance to pitch Cleveland to its first playoff series win since the 2016 ALCS. McKenzie’s ERA is down about two runs this season from his 2021 mark, and now he has a chance to follow the Guardians ace. Shane Bieberthe strong Game 1 outing with one of his own. — Jesse Rogers
Seattle Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays (4:07 ET on ESPN)
Mariners lead series 1-0
Sailors starter: Robbie Ray (12-12, 212 K, 3.71 ERA)
Blue Jays starter: Kevin Gausman (12-10, 205K, 3.35 ERA)
What to watch out for: Few opponents know the Blue Jays as well as Robbie Ray. He spent last season with Toronto, won the American League Cy Young Award, left for Seattle as a free agent and now can end his former team’s season Saturday as the Mariners need just one more win after their 4-0 victory against the Blue Jays. in Game 1 of their wild card series. Seattle’s offense quieted a raucous Rogers Center crowd with three first-run innings in Game 1, and it will look to affect Gausman, Ray’s replacement in the Jays’ rotation and Game 2 opponent, as well. The stakes for the Mariners are clear: With a win in Game 2 (or Game 3), they’ll advance to the division series against AL West rival Houston — and secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2001. For Toronto, getting Ray is definitely If they don’t, the Jays’ October could be short. –Jeff Passan
San Diego Padres at New York Mets (7:37 ET on ESPN)
Padres lead series 1-0
Padres starter: Blake Snell (8-10, 171 K, 3.38 ERA)
Mets starter: James of Grom (5-4, 102 K, 3.08 ERA)
What to watch out for: Never mind that the Mets won 101 regular-season games. It’s all up to deGrom to help save New York’s season on Saturday. The Mets will need deGrom at the top of his game, with their offense struggling in big moments in recent weeks, especially during their disastrous final series against the Braves. Even with Starling Mars back in the lineup, the Mets looked sluggish on Friday, leaving eight runners on base, and failing to capitalize on any momentum they had built. Yu Darvish.
The Padres counter deGrom with Snell, one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half. Since the All-Star break, Snell has the second-highest strikeout rate in baseball (12.12 K/9) among all starters, ranking behind just. Charles Rodon, the fifth-best ERA (2.19), third-best FIP (2.23) and the second-highest fWAR. Although Snell hasn’t looked like a former Cy Young Award winner during his time in San Diego, he has found his form again in recent months. The Mets have their work cut out for them. — Joon Lee
Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals (8:37 ET on ESPN2)
Phillies lead series 1-0
Phillies starter: Aaron Nola (11-13, 235K, 3.25 ERA)
Cardinals starter: Miles Mikolas (12-13, 153 K, 3.29 ERA)
What to watch out for: The Cardinals need a win to save their season — and they might need a closer, too. Ryan Helsley, dominant all year, was noticeably erratic in the ninth inning of Game 1, setting the stage for an unlikely Phillies comeback. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said he was “starting to lose a little bit of feel for his pitches,” a byproduct of the right middle finger he jammed three days earlier. At the very least, it looks as if the Cardinals won’t have him for Game 2 — and that could prompt them to turn to Jack Flaherty, previously hailed as their ace, to pitch in a save situation. Flaherty warmed up in the ninth inning next door Andre Pallanteand Marmol kept Pallante throwing a little longer than expected to save Flaherty for possible usage in Game 2.
That might not matter if the Cardinals can’t get Nola, a perfect example of why a team like the Phillies can be so dangerous in a best-of-three series. The Phillies’ roster is riddled with issues, but their lineup has top-level talent Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto and Kyle Schwarberand their pitching staff is fronted by two bona fide aces in Zack Wheeler and Nola. Wheeler held the Cardinals scoreless through 6 1/3 innings in Game 1. And Nola, who threw 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Astros in the Phillies’ clincher earlier this week, is perfectly capable of doing the same. But Mikolas, who has a 2.13 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this season, can hang with him. — Alden Gonzalez