Wild Card Playoff baseball is here and there is no greater wild card in this opening single game elimination playoff round than Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.
wild card: a person or thing that could affect a situation in a way that cannot be predicted : an unknown or unpredictable factor. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
While the other three Wild Card teams will rely on the arms of their aces, the Pirates will send Volquez to the mound to oppose Madison Bumgarner. The Pirates backed themselves into this situation when they chose to take a long shot at winning the N.L. Central by pitching Gerrit Cole on the final day of the regular season. That left the Pirates with no choice but to turn to Volquez for the NL Wild Card game. Volquez isn’t the worst option. He has pitched extremely well in the second half the season, but he doesn’t provide the level of comfort in knowing that you will likely get an outstanding performance from him like you would an ace. Volquez truly is a wild card. He could be great, he could be terrible, or could be downright wild. Although Volquez has cut down on the walks considerably this year he still has moments of extreme wildness. Just three starts ago he walked five batters in an outing against the Cubs, and he tied with Tim Lincecum for the National League lead in wild pitches this season with 15. And there is no question that among the Wild Card round starting pitchers Volquez is by far the wildest.
As you can see Edinson Volquez is walking hitters at nearly twice the rate of the three ace pitchers that are being handed the ball in the Wild Card Playoff games. This is not say that Edinson Volquez isn’t capable of pitching a gem against the Giants. And perhaps there is just something apropos about a guy that can be more than a little wild taking the hill for these Wild Card Pirates.