AS the playoffs get closer and the Indians still hanging around for a wild card spot, I decided to focus on a playoff-centric question for the staff in this week’s Wroundtable. After giving it some thought, I decided on the following question. There are about six or seven teams in contention for the AL Wild Card, including the Indians. If they can make it into the play-in game, which team would you most like to see them play and which team scares the living crap out of you? As you will see below, there seemed to be a general consensus for the team we don’t want to face and probably not the team you’d expect.
Steve Kinsella: Simple answer for me. I don’t want to have to face the Rays. I will openly root for the Rays to win the AL East and to avoid the Indians v Rays in a 1-game playoff. I would most like to place the Oakland Athletics as I am not afraid of their lineup or their pitching staff.
Geordy Boveroux: Boston. I’d be able to go if the game is played at Fenway.
Ed Carroll: If I got my pick, I’d want the Indians to face Baltimore, as their starting pitching is “meh” at best, and there’s no ace you may rub into. Texas is a distant second, mostly because of the Indians having recent success versus the Rangers (although I do readily admit recent success and season records are fairly irrelevant in the playoffs, and especially in one game).
There’s no contest who I’d like the Indians to avoid in a one-game playoff, and hopefully any postseason series – Tampa Bay. Don’t let the record fool you. Not sure there’s a more complete team in the American League, outside of Detroit. I wouldn’t exactly be giddy about squaring off against Boston in Fenway either, but I think the Rays in a one-game playoff is a death sentence for the 2013 Tribe.
Kyle Downing: I’d like to see us face the O’s. They have a torrid offense but our pitching seems to be able to keep them in check. Boston has our number this year and has wrecked us in the season series, so it’d be great if we could avoid that game.
Michael Chaney: I don’t want to sound all corny, but I’d be beyond excited if the Indians made the Wild Card Game no matter who they would play, although I’d obviously prefer that they would win the game. Granted, this isn’t like Little League where you get a trophy just for trying, but considering the expectations so-called baseball “experts” set for this team, making the playoffs would be a huge accomplishment, one that could even get the Indians on SportsCenter for a few seconds.
With that being said, the team that really scares the crap out of me is the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s no secret, but for those of you living under a rock, the Rays are pretty darn good. Their pitching has long been the envy of the league, and now with the offense coming along as well, the Rays are definitely a force to be reckoned with. Besides, Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman make up what is arguably the best manager-general manager tandem in baseball, although it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the Rays win the AL East and the Indians didn’t have to worry about them in the Wild Card Game.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I feel that any team the Indians would play in the Wild Card Game could create a potential problem. That much is obvious (seriously, I don’t think I’m this much of a pushover in real life). But, if I’m Terry Francona and the Indians, the team that I would most like to face is the Texas Rangers. There is no questioning the fact that the Rangers are one of baseball’s best teams, and their 74-53 record confirms that. However, the Indians have done very well against the AL West this season, including a 5-1 mark against Ron Washington‘s club. In those six games, the Tribe outscored the Rangers 31-18, holding them to a slash line of .234/.308/.345 — pretty impressive for Cleveland considering the offense that the Rangers possess. The Rangers are a terrific team, but the Indians have done well against them this year; it’s as simple as that. That’s not to say that the Indians would surely stomp down the Rangers, but I would probably feel the most comfortable if that’s the avenue the Indians had to go.
Jeff Mount: I’ll play anyone if we get in. It probably matters more what the pitching matchup is than who we play. My ideal scenario is that Tampa and Boston go down to the wire for the division and burn out their staffs trying to win, so whoever loses the division is toast for the Wild Card game. It happened with Texas last year. It is worth noting that the wild card game would be on Monday, September 30, which is 40 days from last night, so Masterson will be on his regular turn.
Brian Heise: For the team I’d most like to see the Indians play, I’ll go ahead and say the Rangers. Yes, this means that Oakland has to overtake them for the West, but the Indians have done a great job this year against the Rangers. They just seem to have their number. As for the team I would most like to avoid at all cost? That’s easy. I want no part of Tampa Bay. The Rays are built for the playoffs. Having to face them in a one game, do or die situation is like a death sentence. No thanks. I’ll pass.