After an exciting September that featured tightly contested postseason races in both leagues, the 2016 MLB playoffs are finally upon us with the field already set despite the regular season ending on Monday.

The quest for the World Series begins Tuesday with the American League Wild Card Game, while the National League Wild Card Game begins a day later. Although these contests are winner-take-all showdowns, they could have had serious implications on the rest of the postseason. In 2014, the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants used wild-card wins as springboards to meet in the Fall Classic.

With that in mind, let us take a look at the schedule for the 2016 playoffs, including dates and start times for each round, television coverage and live-stream information.

The playoffs begin with a contest that pits two powerful teams against each other in he Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Orioles led the league in home runs during the regular season by a landslide with 255, while Toronto finished fourth with 221 dingers. Both teams also allowed 183 home runs each, so both are equally susceptible to the long ball.

Yet the difference in this game could be whether Baltimore can earn a late lead, as Orioles closer Zach Britton led the league with 47 saves while posting a microscopic 0.54 ERA.

On the NL side, a pair of aces are set to take the hill, per MLB Network’s Heidi Watney:

The San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (15-9 with a 2.74 ERA) and the New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (14-9 with a 2.60 ERA) finished with near identical numbers this season. Thus, playoff experience looks to be a crucial factor this Wednesday.

Syndergaard was solid in his postseason debut last year, going 2-1 with 3.32 ERA in 19 innings. However, Bumgarner is an established baller in October. In 88.1 innings pitched, he is 7-3 with a 2.14 ERA and a save. The 27-year-old is dominant when the stakes are at their highest, so it is tough to believe he will not pitch a gem Thursday.

When looking ahead in the NL, the Chicago Cubs undoubtedly stand out as the top storyline. The Cubs were clearly the best team in baseball throughout the season, as they led the league in team ERA while finishing third in MLB in runs scored. Still, the Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908, but another piece of history is on their side, per ESPN Stats and Info:

Chicago boasts an unbelievable lineup led by Kris Bryant (39 homers and 102 RBI), Anthony Rizzo (32 homers and 109 RBI) and Addison Russell (21 homers and 95 RBI). The batting order boasts tremendous depth as well, with Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist also posing palpable threats. 

If that’s not enough, Kyle Hendricks—who finished with the lowest ERA in baseball with a 2.13 mark—Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Jon Lester give the Cubs a solid four-man rotation for this postseason. The team also has a sensational closer in Aroldis Chapman, who finished with 16 saves and a 1.01 ERA since coming over from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline.

The American League looks to be wide open, but look out for the Boston Red Sox.

This team can flat-out score with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and a resurgent David Ortiz leading the charge. Boston comfortably led the majors with 878 runs and a .282 batting average, and its .246 opposing batting average was good for seventh-best in baseball.

The Red Sox have the luxury of trotting out experienced players in Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, but the team’s hopes could lie with pitcher David Price. 

The ace brushed off an abysmal 2016 start to finish with a 17-9 record, but his postseason history leaves much to be desired. Price is 2-7 in 14 appearances with a 5.12 ERA. If he can even marginally improve on these numbers in 2016, Boston should have enough offense to be successful. Still, these playoffs will be huge for Price’s standing among the game’s top arms.


Statistics are courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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