By: Kyle May
As we wrap up the regular season, the playoff picture is becoming more clear. There are still some very important battles going on in baseball as we approach the final stretch of the season. Lets take a look at some of the biggest storylines in baseball right now.
1. What World Series matchup would you like to see most and why?
Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The World Series I would most like to see is Angels-Cardinals. The Angels and Cardinals have lots of players that have played for both teams and it would be interesting to see how Albert Pujols does, especially since Cardinals fans have criticized him for signing with the Angels.
Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): I would like to see the top 2 teams in the MLB right now face off. The pitching of St. Louis vs the hitting of Toronto. It would be an interesting matchup. It would be interesting too because when Toronto goes to Busch Stadium they only have 8 hitters and I want to see how they perform with 8 hitters and a pitcher hitting. That could be the difference in the series.
Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): My ideal WS matchup would involve the 1985 World Champions Kansas City Royals vs. the 1985 National League Champions St. Louis Cardinals. They had a great seven game series in ’85. Since the inception of Inter-League play, quite a rivalry has existed. I live in Missouri and would find this matchup particularly interesting.
Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): Pirates-Angels. I would love to see a matchup between the best two centers fielders in all of baseball.
Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer): Toronto Blue Jays vs. St. Louis Cardinals. On the AL side it is tempting to take the Kansas City Royals. They have had an outstanding season despite losing James Shields among others. It had been since 1985 since the Royals had even made it the playoffs (won World Series that year), yet they were able to make it all the way to the World Series in 2014. I think the Toronto Blue Jays can follow a similar path. Clinching a playoff berth already in 2015, the Blue Jays officially went 22 seasons (1993) without a playoff appearance. Coincidentally enough, 1993 also marked a World Series victory for Toronto. The St. Louis Cardinals out of the National League are my favorites. They have played full speed leading the league in wins nearly all season. The fact that the Cardinals still are this good, years after losing Albert Pujols, has to make the ownership and fan base proud. They continue to re-tool each year and are an excellent organization.
Brian Endicott (Indians’ Writer): Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays: I think this matchup would generate a lot of enthusiasm throughout the playoffs. Neither of these teams have seen October baseball in a long while, the Cubs since 2008 and the Blue Jays since their championship season in 1993. Despite their disappointing seasons basically year after year, the Cubs have a lot of nationwide support and this year’s Blue Jays have rejuvenated the sport north of the border.
Joey Segur (Mariners’ Writer): The match up id love to see in the World Series is Mariners Vs Giants. My reasoning behind this is well, I’m a Mariners fan and I have a limited memory of the Mariners being in the playoffs since I am 24. I also think the M’s vs the defending World Series champ would end up being one of the best World Series lately, but that may be a biased opinion.
Paul DiSclafani (Mets’ Writer): No, I don’t want to see the Mets and the Yankees. Too many bad memories. What about the Mets and the Astros? Both teams came into the league in the same year (1962) and participated in one of the greatest playoff series in baseball history. The Astros have never been in a World Series and the Mets haven’t won one since they beat the Astros to get there in 1986.
2. Name 3 impact players to watch in the postseason.
Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): Three impact players to watch are Mike Trout, Lorenzo Cain, and Yoenis Cespedes. I’m staying away from pitching on this one because these 3 outfielders are all catalysts for their teams and really get the momentum going.
Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): Watch Lorenzo Cain, who broke out last postseason and name his name even big, but this postseason he will make his name bigger. Next, Yoenis Cespedes has been one of the hottest hitters since the MLB trade deadline and will look to carry that hot bat into the postseason and hopefully the World Series. Finally, David Price is the key to the Blue Jays success in the postseason.
Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): In no particular order: (through this past Friday) Yoenis Cespedes, since coming to the Mets, Cespedes has appeared in fifty games, scored thirty-seven runs, has sixty-one hits, seventeen home runs, forty-four RBI’s, a .292 batting average, an OBP of .338, and an OPS of .974. He is an impact player. St. Louis Cardinals rookie Tommy Pham. Pham has earned a place on the Cardinals’ post-season roster. Pham can play all three outfield positions. Since being called-up, Pham has appeared in forty-five games, scored twenty-seven runs, has thirty-nine hits, five home runs, a .281 BA, an OBP of .357, and an OPS of .867. Also from the Cardinals, the gritty veteran John Lackey. Lackey has pitched in the post-season on fourteen occasions: 6 ALDS, 1 NLDS, 4 ALCS, 1NLCS, and in two World Series. Lackey lives for October, his record in the pos-season is 7-5, he has a 3.08 ERA, has started 18 games, pitched 117.0 innings, and has a WHIP of 1.256. He’ll give you seven or more innings and will keep his team in the game. He is a clutch player.
Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): David Price, Jake Arrieta, Matt Harvey.
Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer): Josh Donaldson comes in good company with Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki. He has tremendous power with 40 HR, 121 RBI, and a .301/.373/.578 slash line. Anthony Rizzo has had another outstanding season and is continuing to develop into one of the premier players in the National League. The Chicago Cubs play in easily the toughest division in the entire league with both the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates ready to make the playoffs. Anthony Rizzo has 30 HR, 95 RBI, 17 SBs, while batting .282 with a .392 OBP. Mike Trout. If the Angels can manage to make the post-season, the 2014 MVP will look to make some noise. He has had another tremendous season with 40 HR, 88 RBI while batting .297.
Brian Endicott (Indians’ Writer): Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs. In his hyped-up rookie seasons, Bryant has met and exceeded all expectations. He set a club rookie record with 26 home runs (and counting), including a 2-run 2-out walk-off home run on August 24th. The kid has made a huge impact on the 2015 Cubs and I expect that to continue through the postseason. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays. With 40 home runs and an MLB-leading 121 RBIs, Donaldson is having an MVP season. The Blue Jays have 3 guys with 100+ RBIs and they just added Troy Tulowitzki. Pitching around Donaldson’s power isn’t going to be easily accomplished, giving him a lot of opportunities to wreak havoc on opposing pitchers. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates. Cole is having a monster season that’s been accomplished relatively quietly – he’s 18-8 with a 2.60ERA Frequently overshadowed by Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs, Cole has come up big in big games, and I expect domination from him as long as the Pirates stay alive.
Joey Segur (Mariners’ Writer): The three most impactful players to watch in the World Series will be, Corey Seager, Matt Harvey and Yoenis Cespedes. My reasoning behind picking these three players is pretty simple. I picked Corey Seager because he has had a hot bat ever since entering the majors. I feel he will continue his hot bat and bring much success to the Dodgers this post season. Cespedes has been on fire ever since he came to the Mets. No doubt he will bring power and clutch batting to the Mets. Finally I think Matt Harvey could be the key to the Mets playoff success. Coming out of surgery last year, he has proven to be the pitcher all of us expected him. Only question that can be asked is if he has enough in his tank.
Paul DiSclafani (Mets’ Writer): Carlos Beltran – he is going to have to be the playoff performer he was with Houston for the Yankees to advance. Just hope they don’t throw him a curveball. Dodgers pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke – without these two, the Dodgers will be in trouble. The Mets can survive a bad start by deGrom or Syndergaard with Harvey or Matz right behind them. Yoenis Cespedes (Mets) – is he as good as he was for four weeks in August? Although the Mets have won even before he got hot and after he got hot, there is no wiggle room in the playoffs. If Cespedes becomes just pedestrian in the playoffs, the opposing pitchers will know it and once you take the fear factor out of the Mets lineup, well, it’s just the Mets lineup…
3. What trade deadline player from this year will have the biggest impact on their team’s success in the playoffs?
Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): I’d have to say David Price for this one. He will be the Blue Jays’ go to guy in a game 7 or a must-win game. He is a pitcher that can handle the hype and is going to give the Blue Jays a chance to win every time he pitches.
Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): David Price will have the biggest impact because he bolsters the Blue Jays rotation and will be a favorite to win any 1 game situation maybe even 2 in one series.
Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): Yoenis Cespedes.
Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): Johnny Cueto. If the Royals are to return to the World Series, Cueto will need to step up for them.
Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer): Troy Tulowitzki. Let’s face it, Troy Tulowitzki is a stud. He has had a phenomenal career and continues to play well this season. The only knock on him throughout recent seasons are his injuries. Luckily for Toronto, he is healthy. He has come on and made an instant impact pushing the Blue Jays to the top of the AL East. After all said and done that acquisition could push Toronto to a #1 seed in the American League.
Brian Endicott (Indians’ Writer): The Toronto Blue Jays scored huge at the trade deadline picking up all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and adding an ace pitcher in David Price. Tulo will certainly have a huge post-season impact for the Jays, but the domination that Price will bring to the mound cannot be understated. I’m going with Price — since arriving in Toronto he is 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA, striking out 87 batters in 74.1 innings pitched. Having that go-to domination twice every potential playoff series is going to keep the Blue Jays playing baseball deep into October.
Joey Segur (Mariners’ Writer): No doubt Yoenis Cespedes has the biggest impact of the trade deadline for the Mets. All the numbers show he has helped the Mets dramatically and gave them a chance to win 90% of every game coming off the trade deadline. I’m excited to see Cespedes play this post season.
Paul DiSclafani (Mets’ Writer): With the numbers that Cespedes has put up for the Mets since the trade deadline, you might be inclined to go with him. But look at what David Price has done for the Toronto Blue Jays since coming over from Detroit. The Jays have lost just one of his starts since August 3 and Price has given up more than 3 runs just once in his 11 starts. He’s only allowed 19 earned runs in 74.1 innings while going 9-1 and winning five consecutive starts. PS – He’s 3-1 against the Yankees since the trade.
4. Who out of the Angels, Twins, and Astros has the best shot at claiming the second AL Wild Card spot?
Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The Angels have been heating up recently and look to be the hottest out of the trio. The Angels could be similar to the Royals last year (heat up and make a postseason run). If the Angels’ pitching can continue to put out quality starts and their offense can produce runs, they’ll have a good shot to overtake the second wild card spot from the Astros.
Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): The Astros will win the second wild card spot. They will get over this horrible losing streak and ride on into the wild card game. They will lean on Carlos Correa to make it.
Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): The Houston Astros have the best chance of securing the second AL Wild Card spot.
Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): Angels.
Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer): I believe the Houston Astros are in the driver’s seat for the 2nd Wild Card spot. They came out of nowhere this season and were division leaders in the AL West for a majority of the season. They have fallen off as of late but it would be considered a failure if they missed the playoffs after a surprisingly great season.
Brian Endicott (Indians’ Writer): I wish I could respond to this with my team, the Cleveland Indians. The Indians aren’t done yet – they’re 3.5 games back with 9 calendar days left in the season. But I’ll be much more realistic and go with the LA Angels. Around the beginning of September, I wrote in my column that the Angels were done – they were in a slump heading into the last month of the season and faced the most grueling schedule of the Wild Card contenders. 18 of the final 29 games on the Angels schedule are against playoff contending teams and they’ve posted an impressive 14-8 record so far this month. That’s put the Angels just 1 game behind the slumping Astros who are 8-15 in September. If the Angels keep doing what they’ve been doing, they’ll be playing in Yankee Stadium for the AL Wild Card.
Joey Segur (Mariners’ Writer): Out of the Angels, Twins and Astros I believe the Astros will claim the 2nd AL wild card spot. They have one of the best pitchers in baseball this season and their young offense seems to be present when needed the most.
Paul DiSclafani (Mets’ Writer): Astros (80 wins) had the best first five months of the season and have struggled down the stretch. They have won just 7 games in September (7-15). They finish against the Rangers (2), Seattle (3) and Arizona (3). The Angels (80) seemed like they were finished after losing two of three to the cross-town Dodgers, but they have won three straight, and 10 of 15 since then. They took two of three in Houston to move to within a half game of the final spot, but finish the season on the road in Arlington against the first place Rangers. The Twins (78) are fading fast after losing 3 of 4 to the Angels. They are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. I’d take the Angels.
Is a wild card team (from either league) capable of winning the World Series?
Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): Usually the wild card teams had to make a late-season push to get into their spot and are hot coming into the playoffs, which makes them candidates to win the World Series. However, this year, baseball’s 2nd best team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, are going to be a wild card team. Watch out for them because they are good and they are hungry.
Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): Yes, any team has a chance to win the World Series. I would pick the Pirates out of all wild card teams to have the best chance to win the World Series. The Pirates look like they are ready to take the next step and that step is to go deep into the postseason.
Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): Yes, I believe the Pittsburgh Pirates are capable of winning the NLCS and going on to win the World Series.
Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): Yes the Pirates look to be a good bet to win the World Series as a wild card team. They have been hot down the stretch and are also the second best team in MLB, despite being a wild card team.
Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer): As seen in recent years, the answer has to be yes: a Wild Card team can win the Playoffs. The San Francisco Giants proved so just last year. There are a lot of good Wild Card teams this season. The Yankees are an appealing choice, but if I had to pick a WC team to win the World Series it would be a team out of the NL Central. It looks as if the Chicago Cubs will play division rival Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1-game series. With St. Louis pretty locked in at the #1 seed, one of these teams will have to play the Cardinals in the following round. Things could get interesting.
Brian Endicott (Indians’ Writer): I certainly believe this is possible, especially with the confidence the Wild Card winners will have after seeing the World Series from last year being two Wild Card teams. Even though I believe that the American League is much more competitive than the National League this year, I don’t think that either AL wild card team (whoever they may be) will bring the consistent high level of play necessary to make the championship series. I do, however, think that both the Pirates and the Cubs do. I actually predict the winner of the one-game Wild Card play-in game between the Pirates and Cubs will be the last team standing in October.
Joey Segur (Mariners’ Writer): It’s hard to answer this question right now because both the Cardinals and Pirates are within the #1 spot in the NL central. But if I were to choose any wild card team to win the World Series I would have to pick the Cardinals or Pirates.
Paul DiSclafani (Mets’ Writer): Baseball has certainly given the division winner a huge advantage over the wild-card winner in the Division Series. The Division Series start one day after the wild card game and plays on consecutive days. So the Wild-Card winner will have to play Games 1 & 2 on the road without whomever they needed to start in the WC game. Unless a team is loaded with starting pitchers, it is going to be very tough. I say no.