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Major League Baseball Wild Card Playoffs StartingFriday.

ESPN is excited to be home of the new expanded Major League Baseball Wild-Card Playoffs that begin this weekend.

ESPN has the Major League Baseball Wild Card Playoffs are starting Friday.

The top seeds, teams with the best regular season records in the National and American Leagues a bye in the new format. So, it is a moment of joy for Atlanta Braves along with the Los Angeles Dodgers who get the bye, while the American League honors belong to the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees, as they will get some rest this weekend.

Under the new format, it is going to be the best two out of three. The NL Central Champion, St. Louis Cardinals will host all games in the best two out of three game series against the sixth seeded Philadelphia Phillies, while the New York Mets, as the top wildcard team, gets to face the San Diego Padres. 

Does the new format make it easier or tougher to win a World Series title?

Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays meets with manager Kevin Cash #16 and a trainer before exiting the game in the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on September 22, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Fox Sports Baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal on the Starting 9 podcast thinks the new format will offer more challenges. “I don’t know if it is better… but it will test every team in the playoffs because you have four rounds of post-season baseball for teams playing in the wild-card round, after a six-month regular season, I think that is going to make winning very hard.”

ESPN will be the home for all the action in the American and National League Wild Card Playoffs. The action in the American League will start Friday, with the Central Division Champions, the Cleveland Guardians vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. 

The broadcasts will be handled by Boog Sciambi and Doug Glanville. Meanwhile, north of the border in Toronto, it will be Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian. The National League will see the St. Louis Cardinals, the Champs of the Central, hosting the San Diego Padres. Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez will take care of this assignment.

Battle of the bitter rivals the New York Mets will entertain the Philadelphia Phillies with Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez.’

Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch to the Toronto Blue Jays in the second inning at Tropicana Field on September 22, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

So, who is the sleeper team in the Wild Card Round? 

“To me the one team to keep an eye on must be the Cleveland Guardians – they are playing very well”, said MLB Network analyst Bo Porter. “The Guardians do one of the most important things in the game better than anyone else and that makes contact, so they don’t strikeout, they put the ball in play, keeping the pressure on the defense, plus running up the opposing team’s pitch count, and finally they steal bases leading the league with an 80 percent success rate which means plenty of scoring opportunities.”

The games start Friday night and end on Sunday weather permitting and start times are yet to be announced,

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