BreakingModern — What we’ve all been waiting for is finally back — the MLB playoffs. Players have been grinding since March for this moment, which will place many in eternal glory and many others in eternal infamy (if you’re Billy Buckner).
After 162 games, it’s hard to believe that we almost had a tie for the American League wild card spot. Just a couple of days ago, it was a very real possibility that the Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers could have tied for the final playoff spot. The AL could have had three one-game playoffs just to get in to the real playoffs. Thankfully (or not), we only have one per league.
Here are my playoff predictions all the way to the 2015 World Series:
Wild Card Round (Single Elimination)
Astros at Yankees
Even though the Yankees have their ace Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, they’re just too cold to take out the streaking Astros. New York has dropped six of their last seven, while Houston has taken six of their last eight to sneak into the playoffs. Although Houston sends out Dallas Keuchel on short rest, it’s hard to see the Bronx Bombers getting their mojo back.
American League Division Series (ALDS)
Rangers vs. Blue Jays
Pick: Blue Jays in 4
The Blue Jays’ offense might seem too right-handed, but they can flat out rake. They have the power to hit opposite field home runs at Arlington, and should turn the stadium into a launching pad (or Rogers Centre 2.0) facing a Rangers’ staff that is shoddy beyond Cole Hamels. Usually, pitching dominates October, but the Blue Jays and their offense have simply been too hot (43-18) since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki to lose.
Astros vs. Royals
Pick: Royals in 5
I really love the Astros (Especially Carlos Correa), but I think Kansas City’s recent postseason domination — until they met an even year Giants team in the World Series — is too much to ignore. Sure, the rotation is a little shoddy after Johnny Cueto, but they know how to get it done in October. The Astros will give them a run for their money, but Kansas City’s superior experience compared to the young Astros will give them the upper hand.
American League Championship Series
Royals vs. Blue Jays
Pick: Blue Jays in 6
I just can’t get over these Blue Jays. Their offense, spearheaded by a healthy Tulowitzki and potential MVP Josh Donaldson is just so good, and the raucous Rogers Centre (never thought I’d say that before) will give them a huge home field advantage. The Royals will eventually pay for their lack of rotation depth (Edinson Volquez at number two?!), especially with the Blue Jays’ bats ready to expose it. Except for a couple of Cueto starts, look for Toronto to roll past Kansas City.
Wild Card Round (Single Elimination)
Cubs vs. Pirates
Two words sum up why the Cubs will win on Wednesday: Jake Arrieta. The Cubs’ ace and owner of the National League’s second best ERA, has been unhittable in the second half of the season, posting a 0.75 ERA in that time. Good luck even getting on the scoreboard, Pirates.
National League Division Series
Dodgers vs. Mets
Pick: Mets in 4
The Mets are the only NL team, maybe with the exception of the St. Louis Cardinals, that can match the Dodgers’ Cy Young candidate duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top of their top-heavy rotation. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey (who is apparently playing against his doctor’s wishes) can match those two, and their pitching depth will become a huge advantage over the Dodgers’ more shaky number three starter. New York has the hunger, while the Dodgers have a history of quick postseason exits. Look for the Dark Knight and Thor to guide New York to the NLCS.
Cubs vs. Cardinals
Pick: Cubs in 5
What could be better than a rivalry series in the playoffs? These two teams have already squared off 19 times this season, so what are five more? This is the most intriguing division matchup because of the rivalry, but also because the teams are pretty equally matched. St. Louis took the season series 11-8 against Chicago, but only out-scored them by five runs, combined. Expect a tight series, but since Back to the Future predicted the Cubs would win the World Series in 2015, I have to go with the Cubs. Jon Lester and Arrieta headline a rotation of aces for the Cubs, but the Cardinals have no clear number one (much less a number two). They have consistent and good depth, but they don’t have an Arrieta.
Digression: It’s a shame that only two of the three best teams in baseball (the Cubs and Cardinals) will make it to the real postseason. Because the three best teams all came from the Central, two had to face the prospect of a single elimination wild card game. A suggestion to MLB: make whoever goes to the wild card game based on overall record, not division standings. If it were this way, Pittsburgh would still be alive.
National League Championship Series (NLCS)
Mets vs. Cubs
Pick: Cubs in 7
Two super-young, driven teams, and only one can win. I love the Cubs’ mojo, and it’s about time they win a World Series: it’s only been 107 years. Steve Bartman won’t be in the house, so the time is right for the Cubs to win. I love the Mets’ pitching, but I love Kris Bryant and the Cubs even more.
Cubs vs. Blue Jays
Pick: Cubs in 6
I know I’ve gushed about the Blue Jays’ sparkling offense, but I think their lack of pitching depth beyond ace David Price will get exposed by the Cubs’ high-flying offense. They’re the perfect underdog story: the youthful team that was supposed to be a few years away from contending this season that somehow became one of the best teams in baseball. They have a great manager in Joe Maddon that won’t make mistakes, an offense that has surged in the second half and the Back to the Future forecast (clearly the biggest reason why they’ll win). They’ll party like it’s 1908 when the Cubs take home the trophy.
Featured Image Credit: Josh Donaldson. Wikimedia Commons
Graphic Image Credit: Ben Leonard
Image Credit: Kris Bryant. Wikimedia Commons
Image Credit: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey. Wikimedia Commons