The regular season has officially come to an end, and that means the 2021 MLB Playoffs are about to begin. While the Los Angeles Angels are missing out on the postseason for the seventh straight year, there is still plenty to be excited about when it comes to the final 10 teams standing.
It starts with the American League and National League Wild Card Games. Two single-elimination playoff games will determine the No. 4 seed in each League, and this year these games feature four of the most intriguing teams in baseball for a number of reasons.
Here, we’ll break down both Wild Card Games and provide how you can watch each of them.
The Angels spent much of the year fighting for one of the two Wild Card spots. Instead, this game will feature the most storied rivalry in all of baseball, as the New York Yankees head to Fenway Park to face the Boston Red Sox. The winner faces the Tampa Bay Rays, also representing the AL East.
It took until the final day of the regular season to decide this matchup, but the MLB world has to be happy that it ended up this way. The Yankees and Red Sox not only have endless history, but also two very exciting baseball teams right now.
The Yankees are led by their slugging duo of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both are red hot, and anchor a lineup filled with bats like Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo, Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres, and others. Their big missing piece for this game is DJ LeMahieu, who is currently on the 10-day IL.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox absolutely have elite bats of their own. They are anchored by Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, with Kyle Schwarber, Alex Verdugo, Kike Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe filling out the lineup. Like the Yankees, the Red Sox will also be without a major cog in their machine, as JD Martinez is out.
Red Sox (92-70) vs. Yankees (92-70)
Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
Tuesday, October 5, 5:08 p.m. PT
BOS: Nathan Eovaldi vs. NYY: Gerrit Cole
While the two AL Wild Card teams were almost scarily similar in how they arrived to this moment, the NL teams could not have taken more different paths. The L.A. Dodgers host the St. Louis Cardinals with the right to face the San Francisco Giants on the line.
The Dodgers are — by almost every metric — the greatest Wild Card team in MLB history. Their 106-56 record is the best to ever not win their division, and their lineup reads closer to an All-Star team than an MLB team. Injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Max Muncy certainly don’t help their case, but they still have plenty of talent.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, looked to be a .500 ballclub entering September. In fact, on Sep. 10, they were 71-69. That was until they rattled off 17 consecutive wins and 19 wins in their final 22 games. They ran away with the Wild Card bid in incredible fashion, but now have a tall task with the Dodgers.
In a one-game playoff, almost anything can happen. The Cardinals are banking on this as they look for just a little bit more magic to get to the NLDS.
Dodgers (106-56) vs. Cardinals (90-72)
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Wednesday, October 6, 5:10 p.m. PT
LAD: Max Scherzer vs. STL: Adam Wainwright