The MLB regular season has less than a week remaining and the playoffs will soon be here. Almost all of the playoff teams have been decided at this point. Four of the five playoff positions have been clinched in the National League and the Dodgers should soon be the fifth. The American League is not as set in stone yet but The Blue Jays and Royals are in and the Yankees and Rangers should clinch a playoff berth in the next few days. The Astros, Angels, Twins and Indians will play for the final wild card position in the last week of the season.
The National League match-ups are nearly set at this time. The Pirates still have a chance to catch the Cardinals and win the National League Central but they will probably end up finishing second and hosting the Cubs in the wild card game. The winner of that game would play the Cardinals (or the Pirates if they win the division) in the division series and the other National League division series will be the Mets versus the Dodgers. It is unfortunate that the playoffs are set up the way they are at this time. It doesn’t seem right that the teams with the three best records in baseball have to have one of the three eliminated in the wild card game and a second team eliminated in the division series. Only one of the teams with the three best records in baseball will make the championship series.
Overall I think the National League is very hard to figure out and it wouldn’t surprise me if any of the five teams won the pennant. The Cardinals’ postseason road got more difficult this past weekend when they decided to shut down starting pitcher Carlos Martinez for the rest of 2015 because of a shoulder strain. They still have several solid starting pitching options in Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and John Lackey. The Cardinals will also get Adam Wainwright back soon and he should be a great asset for them out of the bullpen during the postseason.
The team that I would be most surprised about winning the National League pennant would be the New York Mets. The Mets have a very good future with several young aces in their rotation for the next few years but they are an inexperienced playoff team compared to the other four and are probably ahead of schedule by just making it to the playoffs. Not many predicted the Mets to win the NL East but it appears they will face a more experienced Dodger team that has been to the playoffs the last two seasons and may have the best one-two starting pitching punch in Kershaw and Greinke. But this has been a strange season so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Mets outlast the Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals.
The American League doesn’t have all of its playoff positions or seeds locked up as of yet but they do appear to have a top candidate to win the pennant. The Toronto Blue Jays have had the best lineup in baseball throughout the season and now it appears they may have the best post season starting pitching rotation in the American League. The Blue Jays got the better pitcher at the trade deadline when they acquired David Price and the Royals traded for Johnny Cueto. So far Cueto has not pitched as effectively for the Royals as he did in the National League. If we assume that the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Rangers and either Astros or Angels make the playoffs, there is no team in that group with a pitcher better than Price. The Blue Jays also recently called up pitching prospect Marcus Stroman and he has lived up to the hype in his short stint in the majors. Stroman could be a very good game two pitcher in the playoffs and be to the Blue Jays what Michael Wacha was to the Cardinals in the 2013 playoffs. The Blue Jays have been the best team in baseball since the trade deadline; they have the best lineup in the game and have a great playoff rotation. I think they will win the American League pennant and beat one of the five teams in the National League to win the World Series.