The 2014 MLB playoffs begin for 10 teams on Tuesday, but that number will be reduced to eight by Wednesday evening. The Oakland Athletics are set to take on the Kansas City Royals, and the San Francisco Giants meet the Pittsburgh Pirates in single-elimination contests to determine which two teams will move on to the best-of-five Division Series.

The Athletics and Royals have met seven times this season (all in August), with Kansas City emerging victorious in five of those contests. The Giants and Pirates have faced off six times in 2014, with Pittsburgh taking four wins. Will we see those trends continue in the postseason?

With each team’s ace set to take the mound in these win-or-go-home clashes, we’re certainly in for some compelling baseball. As we await the onset of this year’s Wild Card contests, here’s a look at all of the pertinent viewing information, followed by predictions for each.


Viewing Information



Athletics vs. Royals

When talking about a powerhouse team at the plate, chances are that conversation isn’t about the Royals. Ranked 14th in the league in runs, 16th in on-base percentage and 19th in slugging percentage, this isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut.

But what Kansas City lacks in power, it makes up for in efficiency. The team’s batting average is .263, and it leads the league in stolen bases with 153. The Royals will need to continue playing small ball and manufacturing runs to win against the likes of Jon Lester.

MLB gives a good look at the lefty here:

Oakland’s offense has been in a huge slump since trading away Yoenis Cespedes in a deal which gave them their new ace. Despite a slacking offense, Lester came up huge for the Athletics, dropping his ERA to 2.35—it was 2.52 in Boston. He’s had success in the postseason, and he’s exactly who Oakland will want on the mound in an elimination game.

Lester allowed three runs to the Royals on two occasions this season and shut them out once. Expect him to be in top form on Tuesday, as he propels his team into October with another brilliant showing on the mound.

Prediction: Athletics 4, Royals 2


Giants vs. Pirates

The Pirates are projected to go with the hot hand on Wednesday, as Edinson Volquez will be sent to the mound. Volquez finished the 2014 season with a career-low 3.04 ERA, but even more impressively, he’s only allowed one earned run in his last 21 innings pitched.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been sluggish at the plate this season, either. The team finished 2014 ranked 10th in runs, fifth in batting average, third in on-base percentage and seventh in slugging percentage. The Pirates have a great mix of power with Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, along with the efficiency and speed of Starling Marte.

Here’s a look at how clutch McCutchen is for Pittsburgh, via ESPN Stats & Info:

Madison Bumgarner should take the mound for San Francisco in an effort to quell the Pittsburgh offense. Jake Peavy was another option, but it’s clear why the southpaw got the nod: he’s produced wins in six of his last seven starts.

Bumgarner will need some help on the offensive end to get past a Pittsburgh team that can put up some runs. This could be a slight issue without Angel Pagan in the fold, and the team will need a big performance from Buster Posey. We’re sure in for a close contest here, and the Giants are a good road team, but home-field advantage will be the final difference-maker in this one.

Prediction: Pirates 6, Giants 5

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