Tyler Brandt: The Yankees have the best chance to make a deep run both because of the overall strength of their team and the way their team is built. The Yankees have the second best run differential (+152) in the American League. Their third degree Pythagorean Expectation on Baseball Prospectus suggests they should have nearly 14 more wins than they currently do. That puts them ahead of both Houston and Boston in terms of team strength, and they likely wouldn't have to face Cleveland (the AL's top team) until the championship series. Additionally, the Yankees will benefit more than most teams from the extra days off. Two of the Yankees strengths are their catcher and their bullpen. With the extra rest in the postseason, Gary Sanchez can catch every game, and Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Aroldis Chapman, and Tommy Kahnle will be available more often. Their starting rotation is weaker than those of the other AL contenders, but they won't have to rely on Jaime Garcia or CC Sabathia as much in the postseason. When Luis Severino isn't pitching, the bullpen that has the second lowest FIP in the major leagues will pitch more often, which bodes well for New York.
Rohan Gupta: Among MLB wild card contenders, the New York Yankees have the best chance to make a deep run in the postseason. Winning a single Wild Card Game begins with a top starting pitcher, and the Yankees can offer one of the elites. Among all qualified pitchers in baseball, Luis Severino is fourth in WAR, eighth in ERA, seventh in FIP, fourth in xFIP and fifth in WHIP. His peripherals are sensational, too: sixth in K% and eighth in GB%. He's forced himself into a class with Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber, and can go toe-to-toe with anyone. That's one of the advantages New York holds over the rest of the wild card pack: 4.5 games up on a playoff spot, they may have the luxury of lining Severino up for the game. Even if they aren't able to, they have plenty of options that would likely give them the advantage over whoever they face: Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka or even CC Sabathia, all of who have been rock-solid of late and shown flashes of brilliance. But the Yankees are also the most well-rounded of the bunch. Their bullpen is deep and elite, providing plenty of options for manager Joe Girardi after Severino exits. Since the All-Star break, the pen has compiled 3.6 WAR, half a win better than any other crew. Chad Green has emerged as a fireman, with a 1.69 ERA in relief, mostly in multiple-inning stints. Dellin Betances has been, well, Dellin Betances, and David Robertson has a 1.50 ERA since returning to the Bronx. Adam Warren is another elite option with his 0.89 WHIP, and while Tommy Kahnle has regressed since leaving Chicago, he's a fine sixth option. Aroldis Chapman has not looked good, but the guy is still throwing 104 miles an hour. The offense is also one of the better ones in baseball. For all the strikeout noise, Aaron Judge is a bonafide MVP candidate: his 156 wRC+ is fifth in baseball, and he can hit the ball a mile in any given plate appearance. For all the passed ball noise, Gary Sanchez is a 30-home run catcher. Complete list of shortstops hitting at least .280 with 21 home runs: Didi Gregorius. Chase Headley has made himself into a huge trade-deadline acquisition, hitting .326 since the break. Starlin Castro and Greg Bird are back, and Brett Gardner has, of course, put up at least 3.4 WAR for the seventh time in eight years (he was injured in 2012). All of this is why the Yankees have scored the third-most runs in baseball, with the fifth-best run differential, to go along with that fifth-best ERA. The Yankees are an elite team masquerading as a wild card team because of injuries and inconsistency. Their starters are rolling, their bullpen is built for the postseason and their offense can score a bunch of different ways. They're a complete team, and dangerous come October.
Matthew LaMacchia: Arizona will likely host the NL wildcard game, and have been playing well lately. Their likely divisional series opponent, the Dodgers, have not been playing well, having lost 10 in a row. The Dodgers are still a good team, but they don't look unbeatable like they did a few months ago, and Arizona has won its last six against LA. The Rockies have not been playing well in the second half, their sweep of the Dodgers notwithstanding, and will be lucky to even hold on to the second wildcard spot. The Cardinals and Brewers are bearing down on Colorado, but neither have good enough chances of making the postseason for me to pick them. In the American League, it will be difficult for any wildcard team to get past the Indians, winners of 18 straight, making Arizona the most likely team to go on a run.