MLB Wild Card Predictions 2023

Jerry Beach
Last Updated: Oct 2, 2023

The six-month, 162-game Major League Baseball regular season is a marathon unlike any other in U.S. sports.

With that in mind, the four weeks of playoff action is a chaotic and unpredictable way to determine the league’s champion.

In the best-of-three Wild Card Series, for example, one good inning can render everything that happened before it meaningless and send shockwaves throughout the rest of the tournament.

Let’s dig into the latest MLB Wild Card odds & make some predictions for each series.

MLB Wild Card Series Odds

All MLB betting odds used for these Wild Card Series winner predictions are current as of Oct. 2 and courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins

Blue Jays (+105) | Twins (-125)

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays

Rangers (+130) | Rays (-155)

Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers

Diamondbacks (+145) | Brewers (-170)

Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies

Marlins (+155) | Phillies (-185)

AL Wild Card Predictions

(3) Minnesota Twins vs (6) Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays finished with two more wins than the AL Central-winning Twins, and that doesn’t do justice to how evenly these teams are matched.

They finished 1-2 in the AL in starters ERA and strikeouts – Minnesota’s rotation posted a 3.82 ERA with 970 whiffs, while Toronto’s rotation finished with a 3.85 ERA and 922 strikeouts.

The likely starters for Games 1 and 2 – Pablo López and Sonny Gray against Kevin Gausman and Chris Bassitt – combined to post a 3.38 ERA in 952 2/3 innings.

Blue Jays relievers recorded a 3.68 ERA with 606 strikeouts, slightly better than their Twins counterparts (a 3.95 ERA with 590 strikeouts).

Offensively, the Twins tied the Rangers for the AL lead with 233 homers, 45 more than the Blue Jays. But Toronto scored just 32 fewer runs than Minnesota while finishing with a .746 OPS, a mere .007 behind the AL Central champs.

This series might come down to health and the Game 3 starters. The Twins’ Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Royce Lewis combined to hit 50 homers in 1,035 at-bats but are all on the IL. Elsewhere, Joe Ryan has a 6.62 ERA in his last 14 starts.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays’ José Berrios has a 3.86 ERA in his last 14 starts.

Minnesota’s epic 18-game postseason losing streak ends on Tuesday or Wednesday, but a winning streak will have to wait at least another year.

Twins vs Blue Jays Pick: Blue Jays in 3 Games

(4) Tampa Bay Rays vs (5) Texas Rangers

Here’s another wild-card duel pairing closely matched teams – a series that, for much of the season, looked like a potential ALCS preview.

The Rays and Rangers were atop their divisions and in line for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds every day from May 6 through July 18.

But the Baltimore Orioles shot past Tampa Bay, which didn’t spend another day alone atop the AL East, while the Rangers went 18-24 after Aug. 15 and lost the division crown to the Houston Astros by squandering a 2 1/2-game lead with four to play.

With both starting rotations thinned out by injury — Rays stars Shane McClanahan, Andrew Springs, and Drew Rasmussen all underwent Tommy John surgery, while the Rangers are down Jacob deGrom (Tommy John surgery), Max Scherzer (shoulder) and Jon Gray (forearm/wrist) — this earlier-than-expected clash will come down to the lineups and bullpens.

The Rangers and Rays are 1-2 in the AL in OPS, respectively, and Tampa Bay finished with three fewer homers than Texas. The Rays’ Yandy Diaz (.330) and the Rangers’ Corey Seager (.327) were the only AL batters to hit above .306.

But while Bruce Bochy built his Hall of Fame-bound career on masterfully managing the bullpen during the San Francisco Giants’ three World Series runs, there’s not much he can do about a bullpen gone leaky at the worst possible time.

The Rangers’ bullpen has a 4.77 ERA, and Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith have each lost the closer’s job down the stretch.

The Rays’ bullpen has a 3.83 ERA and late-inning options that won’t send Kevin Cash scrambling for Rolaids.

Bochy’s return brought the desired effect for a Rangers squad in search of leadership in the dugout, but the ultimate reward won’t be enjoyed this month.

Rays vs Rangers Pick: Rays in 3 Games

NL Wild Card Predictions

(3) Milwaukee Brewers vs (6) Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks, two years removed from a 110-loss season, are the feel-good story of the playoffs. But this would be a bad matchup for Arizona even if it hadn’t stumbled into the playoffs fresh off four straight losses in which it scored a total of three runs.

The Diamondbacks had to use co-aces Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly on Friday and Saturday, which will force rookie Brandon Pfaadt and his 5.72 ERA to start Game 1.

But Gallen and Kelly have pitched to a combined 4.27 on the road compared to a 2.53 mark at home, so even the optimal usage of the duo in the first two games would be treacherous.

With only two qualified batters posting an OPS+ north of 100, the Brewers – who rank eighth in the NL in runs and 12th in homers – aren’t an imposing offensive club.

But Milwaukee – with a major league-best 3.71 ERA, a one-two rotation punch of Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, and a bullpen anchored by dominant closer Devin Williams – is built to support whatever leads it can generate.

The lack of firepower may doom the Brewers at some point, but not here.

Brewers vs Diamondbacks Pick: Brewers in 2 Games

(4) Philadelphia Phillies vs (5) Miami Marlins

With a 33-13 record in one-run games, Miami might be built for the quirkiness and randomness of the playoffs.

But everything else suggests a short stay for the Marlins. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara struggled to a 4.14 ERA before suffering an elbow injury.

Second-year hurler Braxton Garrett was impressive, but the only other pitcher to qualify for the ERA title was Jesus Lúzardo.

And the Marlins ranked 26th in the majors with 668 runs scored, the lowest finish and fewest runs for a playoff team in a full season since the New York Mets scored 671 runs in 2016.

Philadelphia’s World Series run last fall provides an immeasurable experience edge over the Marlins as it tries to follow the 2021-22 Astros by winning it all a year after falling in the Fall Classic.

The Phillies also have star pitchers Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola anchoring a pitching staff that produced the fourth-best ERA (4.02) in the NL and a lineup headlined by Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, and Bryce Harper that produced the third-best OPS (.765) in the NL.

The road to another World Series is a long one, but the Phillies should complete the first leg in routine fashion.

Phillies vs Marlins Pick: Phillies in 2 Games

MLB Wild Card Schedule

Tuesday, Oct. 3

Game 1: Rangers @ Rays — 3:08 p.m. ET

Game 1: Blue Jays @ Twins — 4:38 p.m. ET

Game 1: Diamondbacks @ Brewers — 7:08 p.m. ET

Game 1: Marlins @ Phillies — 8:08 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Oct. 4

Game 2: Rangers @ Rays — 3:08 p.m. ET

Game 2: Blue Jays @ Twins — 4:38 p.m. ET

Game 2: Diamondbacks @ Brewers — 7:08 p.m. ET

Game 2: Marlins @ Phillies — 8:08 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Oct. 5

Game 3: Rangers @ Rays — 3:08 p.m. ET

Game 3: Blue Jays @ Twins — 4:38 p.m. ET

Game 3: Diamondbacks @ Brewers — 7:08 p.m. ET

Game 3: Marlins @ Phillies — 8:08 p.m. ET

(All games if necessary)


Jerry Beach

Jerry Beach began his journalism career as a high school senior in Connecticut in 1990 and has been covering professional sports in the northeast since 1997. He has written three books, including “Fighting Words,” a history of the Boston Red Sox and the local media, and “Subway Series,” a 20th anniversary look back at the 2000 World Series. A member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and the Pro Hockey Writers Association, Jerry currently covers the Mets and Islanders while also writing about Major League Baseball and the Baseball Hall of Fame for numerous outlets. Jerry, a graduate of Hofstra University, lives on Long Island with his wife, daughter and way too many media guides to count.

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