Teams are continuing to clinch playoff spots, while the Astros hang on the edge of knife in the playoff standings. Will the free fall continued? Can the Astros come roaring back with a series sweep of the Rangers or will the Rangers put the final nail in the coffin.
The question this week is:
Who would rather face in the playoffs? Slumping Royals? A one game playoff with the Yankees? A series with the high-powered Blue Jays?
For me, it's a no-doubter. I'd rather the Astros win the division. First, they'd have a pennant that means something. Most importantly, a division series guarantees at least three games, whereas the wild card guarantees only one. Anything can happen in one game, even Keuchel uncharacteristically getting lit up for nine runs. Or Carlos Zambrano throwing a no-hitter. If the Astros did beat the Yankees in the WC, they'd then have to face the Royals or Jays immediately afterward anyway.
Same. The wild card only increases the obstacles you have to face; it's not really an either/or situation. And yeah, I saw Phillip Humber throw a no-hitter a few years ago. Anything can happen in one game. The one-game Wild Card thing is ludicrous; start the season earlier, shave off some spring training games, whatever, just make it a three-game series. One game is nuts.
For me, there's two ways to look at it. The first way is to look at the way the schedule for the postseason works out...it really boils down to do you think we match up against the Royals or Blue Jays better? Seems to me that matching up against the Royals is the most advantageous for us as far as having a chance to advance to the ALCS. So going through the Yankees to get to the Royals sounds more conducive to a deeper playoff run.
That's not what I'd prefer, though.
I'd also prefer we win the division. It means more to me because I feel this team isn't quite there yet, offensively. We're not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but our best hitter this year (Correa) had a wRC+ of 127 going into last night's game. I did a little looking last night, and of the ten top offenses in the MLB this year, 7 of them have at least two hitters performing at that level and the Royals, Yankees and Blue Jays each have at least 3 hitters with 100 PA or more performing at 127 wRC+ or better. The Royals have four. The Blue Jays have had six, though one is Danny Valencia, who's obviously not with the team anymore.
So what I'm saying is, despite our relatively good regular season offensively, the playoffs are a bit different and I don't like our odds of scoring enough runs to make a serious, deep push. Plus, winning the division puts us ahead of the Rangers - where we belong - and at least guarantees us the ALDS. I'll go with that option.
For me it all comes down to bringing playoff baseball to Houston and the only way to guarantee a home playoff game is to win the division. While I still think we match up better with the Royals, it means something to win the division. At the end of the day though anything can happen in the playoffs, so I just want the Astros to be invited to the party.