MLB: Previewing the American League Wild Card Playoff Round

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
MLB Sports News


  • The American League Wild Card round starts Tuesday with the Blue Jays at Twins and Rangers at Rays. Baltimore and Houston each earned byes to the ALDS.
  • Houston is defending World Series champions. The Wild Card round is a best two out of three series with games all hosted by the higher seed.
  • The Detroit Tigers finished with their most wins since 2016, but failed to make the American League playoffs.

Baseball season ended with joy in Michigan with a touching tribute to retiring star slugger Miguel Cabrera in his final game after 21 years.

The Tigers won 78 games, good enough for second place in the AL Central, but are home again for the playoffs.

Six teams advanced to the American League playoffs, the top two get byes, and four compete in the Wild Card Round starting Tuesday and online sportbooks have a ton of markets on each series and game.

Here’s a breakdown of the American League Wild Card series.

Blue Jays (89-73) at Twins (87-75)

Yes, even though the Blue Jays won more games, they are on the road for this series, because they finished third in the AL East and the Twins won their division. DraftKings Sportsbook thinks this series will be close with the Twins a slight favorite at -125. These teams split six games in the regular season.

Minnesota’s line-up ranked fifth in runs scored in the American League and starting pitcher Sonny Gray emerged as a genuine ace with 11 with a 2.79 ERA. The Twins aren’t flashy, but the bullpen is good and they seem to score just enough.

People love to talk about the Blue Jays big sticks at the plate. Led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. the Blue Jays had four batters hit over 20 homers in the regular season, but the pitching staff was awesome. Four different pitchers won 10 games or more and the staff ERA of 3.78 ranked second in the AL.

Rangers (90-72) at Rays (99-63)

Remember the Rays jumped out to a 13-0 start in 2023, only to fade in July and see the Orioles pass them and win the AL East. Yandy Diaz led the American League with a .330 batting average and 22 homers. Zach Eflin won 16 games for Tampa.

This is a big moment for the Rangers, who are in the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager lead a big hitting line-up. Texas won four of the six games this year, but DraftKings likes the Rays (-155) to win the series.

Waiting On Deck

Oh, what a summer for the O’s in Baltimore. The Orioles surged as the season went along behind pitcher Kyle Gibson who won 15 games and a 2.83 ERA for Kyle Bradish. Three different Orioles hit over 25 homers, but the playoffs are a new nest for these birds. Baltimore hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2016.

We finish with the Astros. It was an uneven season for the reigning World Champs, who finished tied with Texas for the AL West title, but won the tiebreaker based on head-to-head meetings. Star Jose Altuve only played in 90 games after being hurt early in the year, plus Houston brought back former star pitcher Justin Verlander who has gone 7-3 back with Houston. The Astros weirdly played much better on the road (51-30) than at home (39-42).

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.