Today marks the weekend when regular season baseball ends, AKA when I start to pay attention to major league baseball.
All the playoff spots are filled with the exception of the second wild card in the AL. The Angels and the Astros will take that down to the wire. Other than those two teams, in the AL, we have the division winners, the Blue Jays, the Rangers and the Royals. The Yankees have claimed the first wild card spot. In the NL, all the playoff spots are filled. The division winners are the Cardinals, the Dodgers and the Mets. The two wild card spots are filled by the Cubs and the Pirates. I know people love baseball, but let's be serious, it doesn't really get exciting until now (ed note: Wrong, it is great all year). This is the playoffs.
Up until now, we've had 162 regular season games. That's a ton of games. During the summer I'll occasionally watch Cardinals games because it's my team. I don't watch any other teams play regular season games unless they're playing the Cardinals. Now that Fall is here, football is back and baseball definitely takes the back burner, until now. Football is and always will be my number one, I'll watch every Michigan and Green Bay game, but I will watch playoff baseball, and I'll watch every team in the playoffs. Baseball is finally exciting because it's down to only 10 teams, and two of those teams are out after one game. That's exciting. So, today I'm going to give a playoff preview and predictions. This will become a yearly thing. The one time each year that I watch baseball, I'll write a blog the weekend prior to the playoffs starting with predictions.
So begins my first annual "Baseball Playoff Preview". Since I'm a Cardinals fan and have watched NL baseball most of my life, I'm going to start with the AL and save the NL for last. So on with my AL preview and predictions. I'll start with the "play in" wild card game. The Yankees claimed the first wild card spot last night, and I'm going to say that the Astros complete the meltdown, lose the second wild card spot, and the Angels will end up playing the Yankees. I think the Yankees will win the game, but both of these teams are underachievers. They both have huge stars and huge payrolls, but they barely make the playoffs, if they even do. Tanaka will outpitch Weaver and the Yankees will advance to face the Royals. That means that I think the Royals will finish with the best record in the AL. I think they will do just enough this weekend to surpass the Blue Jays for the top spot. So the division series in the AL will be Yankees-Royals and Blue Jays-Rangers. These are best of five series. In the Yankees-Royals series, I have the Royals winning in five games, but they will all be close. The Royals have better pitching and hitting and even though their closer is out for the rest of the season, their bullpen is the best in the AL. The Royals are better coached as well. Royals advance to the ALCS. In the other division series, I'm taking the Blue Jays in four. The Rangers will get one game, but the Blue Jays are the hottest team in baseball right now, they have the AL MVP in Josh Donaldson, and the Cy Young winner in David Price. I know awards aren't handed out until after the playoffs, but those two are winning those awards. The Blue Jays also have Jose Bautista to crush homers and two great starters to compliment Price in Mark Buerhle and RA Dickey. The Rangers had a nice run at the end of the season, but their run is over. The Blue Jays are a buzz saw and they will crush the Rangers. Blue Jays advance to face the Royals in the ALCS. The ALCS is best of seven, but for all the reasons I just mentioned above for the Blue Jays is why this will be a short series. The Blue Jays win in 5 games. Once again, the Royals will get one at home, but the Blue Jays are playing way too well for anyone in the AL to stop them right now. They're just way too good. They made the best move at the deadline to acquire Price and Troy Tulowitzki, and that will pay off with a trip to the World Series. Blue Jays will represent the AL in the 2015 World Series.
Now, the NL. In the "play in" wild card game we get Cubs-Pirates. This one game may be better than any series in the AL. The NL Central boasts the three best teams in baseball(the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates). If anyone of these teams were in any other division, they'd easily be champs and avoid this "play in" wild card game. I'm going to pick the Cubs strictly because they will have Jake Arrieta on the mound, and he may be the best pitcher in all of baseball right now. The game will be close and very low scoring, but the Cubs will manage 2 runs and walk away with a 2-0 win. This makes the division series, Cardinals-Cubs and Mets-Dodgers. In the Mets-Dodgers series, we will get to see some great pitching matchups. Most pro teams have one ace and then four decent starters. The Mets and Dodgers have two aces each, and great pitchers to fill out the rotation. The Dodgers will throw Greinke and Kershaw in the first two games, but the Mets will counter with De Grom and Harvey. This will be a close, low scoring series and due to their choking in the playoffs as of the past couple of seasons, I'm picking the Mets to beat the Dodgers in five. Kershaw always seems to have a meltdown in the playoffs and the Dodgers can't recover. That will happen once again, and people will start to question if Kershaw can ever win a ring. Mets advance to the NLCS. In what will probably be the most competitive series in all the playoffs, we get Cubs-Cardinals. The Cubs have big time pitchers in Arrieta and Jon Lester and boast a pretty talented, very young lineup. The Cardinals are the Cardinals, plus they get Adam Wainwright back as a relief pitcher just in time for the playoffs. They've had injury after injury, but they still have the best record in all of baseball, winning 100 plus games. This will be close as well, but I have the Cardinals winning in five games. The Cubs are about one or two years away and the Cardinals are stacked with veterans and they have the best bullpen in all of baseball. Their pitching staff is pretty great. Cardinals advance to face the Mets in the NLCS. So we have Mets-Cardinals playing to go to the World Series, what is this, the 80's? Both teams are good, but I have the Cardinals, I know, I'm a homer advancing to the World Series, beating the Mets in seven. I wanted to pick the Mets, but the decision to almost shut down Harvey because of an innings limit, ask the Nationals how that worked for them and Strasburg, will bite them in the ass in the NLCS. It will still go the full seven, but the Cardinals will find a way to advance, it's what they do.
So the 2015 World Series will be the Blue Jays and Cardinals. This one will only go five games, and the Blue Jays will be the 2015 World Series Champions. They're the best team in baseball now, with the best player in the AL and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. The Cardinals injuries will catch up to them, and as I said before, the Blue Jays are a buzz saw. They're the most talented team that's playing the best baseball since the franchise's peak in the 90's. The moves made at the deadline will once again pay off, this time with baseball's largest prize. David Price will win two games in the World Series for the Blue Jays and he will be the best player in all of the 2015 playoffs and take home World Series MVP.
So, there you have it, the Blue Jays will be your 2015 World Series Champs.
(ed picks: ALCS will be Blue Jays over the Yankees in 5. NLCS will have a magical run by the Cubs and they will beat the Cardinals in 7. In the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the World Series, the Toronto Blue Jays will be the first team since the 93 Blue Jays team to win the World Series on a walkoff home run. Maybe next year Cubs fans.)
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man podcast. Ty is way too young to remember the seething hatred all 80's Cardinals fans had for the Mets. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik.