MLB Handicapper's 2014 Wild Card Predictions

Joe Catalano

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 1:51 PM GMT

It's do or die time as we prepare our MLB Wild Card picks. It took these 4 teams 162 games to get to this point, but it's either "one and done" or one win and a secured spot in the post-season.

Oakland Athletics (88-74) vs. Kansas City Royals (89-73)

29 Years Of Suffering
It's simply amazing, but the Kansas City Royals haven't seen the playoffs since the mid 1980's and this is a place with very supportive fans with very little results. Yesterday night, we saw the Kansas City Chiefs administer one of the biggest beatings to the New England Patriots on national television at Arrowhead Stadium and tonight the Kansas City Royals will look to punish the Oakland Athletics, who have had a major collapse, just yards away at Kauffman Stadium. The Athletics are reeling; this is K.C.'s big chance to deliver the knockout punch and get into an extended series and give this city something to cheer about.

 

James "Big Game" Shields
The Royals don't have one of the most imposing offenses and will need a huge performance from Shields (14-8, 3.21) as he faces the very confident Jon Lester (16-11, 2.46). I'd have to say, that Lester gets a slight edge where this matchup is concerned, but Shields does have that ability to turn it up a notch, will be playing in front of a hostile group of fans rooting for him, and the Athletics have actually had the worst record in baseball in the last month in a half. It's difficult to believe that teams like the Cubs and Rangers have had better records late in the season than Oakland, but it's true. They're lucky just to be in the wild card game.

We look at James Shields earned run average over each month and it's pretty much dipped each month. In the month of September, his ERA was 2.31 as opposed to the mid 4.00's early in the season. He's gotten better as the season has went along and I expect a big performance from Shields. The only thing that the Royals lack is power. They will need to play small ball with players like Norichika Aoki (.285) and Alcides Escobar as Alex Gordon provides the little pop that this team possesses. I also think that this a good matchup for Jon Lester, however momentum and 29 years of pain are on Kansas City's side and they're our MLB pick for this matchup.

Free MLB Pick: Kansas City -104 at Bookmaker

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San Francisco Giants (88-74) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74)

Giants Are Legitimate Favorites On the Road
The Pittsburgh Pirates were in this same spot last season and sent the Cincinnati Reds packing, but this season they face a Giants team that has won the World Series recently on more than one occasion. Is it Pittsburgh's turn or will the Giants experience prove to be too much for the Bucs at home?

 

Madison Bumgarner
Veteran Edison Volquez has had a stellar season, but Madison Bumgarner is a beast (18-10, 2.98) and like I always say, "good pitching wins games." Bumgarner starting this game reflects in the betting odds. Although the Pirates are the home team, the Giants are in fact a -115 betting faovrite. The odds makers are telling you who they think will win this game. Bumgarner is coming off one of his more disappointing outings, but he was still competitive and I think that he'll be ill-effected by that start and the Pittsburgh crowd.

 

Time To Shine
There is no tomorrow for one of theses teams and although the Pirates sport the bats of McCutchen and Harrison, the one player that I would want to have on my team is Buster Posey. Posey is 5 for 9 off off Volquez with 2 doubles and a run batted in. Aside from that, he's had exposure to being a World Series winner and was a big part of his team winning. He's come on late in the season like gangbusters and I look for him to have a good game here.

In the month of September, Posey batted .393 with 4 HR and 18 RBI. Actually, the last two months of the season, he turned an average season into a great season and is a big money player. With Bumgarner leading the way, the Giants are my betting pick in this spot.

Free MLB Pick: San Francisco -115 at Bookmaker

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Be sure to check our live MLB odds for the latest line movement.