Many MLB teams have solidified their spot in the playoffs by building a large lead in their division. However with less than 20 games to be played in the regular season, the postseason outlook has time to take shape. The playoffs will begin on Oct. 6.
In the very strong National League Central division there is a high possibility that three teams will make the playoffs. The St. Louis Cardinals are a lock with a 93-56 record to lead the major leagues. The Pittsburgh Pirates (89-60) and the Chicago Cubs (87-62) will take the two wild card spots coming off very strong regular season campaigns. They will both most likely edge-out the San Francisco Giants who have struggled as of lately. Their skid began after being swept by the National League West division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers in early September.
The Dodgers are led by two Cy Young candidate pitchers, Zack Grienke (1.65 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (2.18 ERA). With the acquisition of veteran second baseman Chase Utley, the Dodgers may have the experience to realize their full potential and make a World Series run.
Dr. Paul Hanson, a professor in the history department at California Lutheran University and baseball enthusiast, has an interesting view on the playoff situation.
“With the evolving format of the playoffs, I believe it decreases the chances of the best team winning. An unknown player can be the hero and depth does not matter. However the Dodgers have two very good pitchers at the top of their rotation who could carry them.”
Hanson makes an interesting point about the unknown player becoming the hero. In last year’s National League Championship Series, Travis Ishikawa, left fielder for the Giants, hit a walk-off home run to win the series. A name that was previously unknown was added to the roster in late July and instantly became a hero on the biggest stage. His name will now be remembered by all Giants fans. This type of underdog story makes for a very exciting story and will cause fans to look forward to this year’s postseason.
Dr. Steve Kissinger, psychology professor at Cal Lutheran and baseball fan, said he does not like the Cardinals chances.
“They are a strong team, but I do not see them making it to the World Series,” Kissinger said. “If the Dodgers make it, I will pick them over whoever they play.”
The American League West also has an intriguing situation. The Texas Rangers (80-69) have a one-and-a-half-game lead over the Houston Astros (79-71). The Astros have controlled the division for most of the season until an August surge from the Rangers. In this division, the team who comes in second will most likely earn a wild card spot. The final wildcard spot is up for grabs between three American League teams who are less than five games behind. This could be the recipe for a hotly contested wild card race in the American League.
After acquiring key players Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, the Toronto Blue Jays (85-64) have become the surprise of the season and are now favorites to win the American League East. Tulowitzki recently went down with a back injury that will keep him out for two to three weeks. This takes one of the most feared bats in baseball out of the lineup. One must see Toronto as a dangerous team because they are currently playing very well as the postseason nears, posting a 37-16 record in the second half of the season.
Will Houser, junior graphic design major at Cal Lutheran, said he favors the Blue Jays for this year’s title.
“I think Toronto takes it. They have made some good trades and have hit their stride. They are a young team who keeps getting better and better,” Houser said.
Leading the American League Central division are the Kansas City Royals (87-62). A year after reaching the World Series, the Royals are as strong as ever. They returned with an explosive offense and one of the best bullpens in the MLB.
The New York Mets (84-65) are another surprise in the 2015 season as they represent the National League East. They will bring three strong starting pitchers to the postseason. An energized offense with Yoenis Cespedes (35 HR) as their catalyst will look to contend for a National League title.
The MLB postseason is quickly approaching and the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. Many young teams who surprised fans across the nation, such as the Astros and the Mets, will get a chance to prove whether their success is legitimate. Tune in on Oct. 6 to watch your favorite team compete for the 2015 World Series crown.
Published September 23rd, 2015