October is coming, which team will make a late playoff push?



Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke smiles as he heads into the seventh inning having given up only one hit to the rival San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. The Dodgers won, 2-1. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

KEVIN DEITRICK, Sports Columnist

As the 2015 MLB season comes to a close, we are that much closer to crowning a new World Series champ. If you have followed this season, it’s likely you have questions as to who will actually make the playoffs. Even this late in the season every playoff race across the league is still very tight.

Let’s start with the National League Central, which is arguably the most competitive division this league has seen in recent history. In first place we have the St. Louis Cardinals. You either love them or hate them. They are sitting pretty at the top of the national league with a Major League best 89-54 record. In second, you’ve got the Pittsburgh Pirates, having one of their best seasons in years at 86-56. Finally, in third place you’ve got the Chicago Cubs with a record of 82-60. I bet every Cubby fan is shouting out, “It’s about freaking time!” after enduring five-straight painful losing seasons; the rebuild is paying off, and they will be good for a long time.    

Of course, you’ve got the cellar dwellers in the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds. Along with the Cards, Bucs and Cubs, you’ve got the New York Mets (83-61) in the NL East with the LA Dodgers (83-60) and San Fran Giants (76-68) over in the West. These are your contenders in the National League. With that being said, let’s move on over to the American League.

Start in the American League West, in first place you have the Houston Astros who, much like the Cubs, have surprised everybody.  The West is very tight. You’ve got Houston (77-67) in first, the Texas Rangers (76-67) in second and then the LA Angels (72-71) who have been struggling but could still go on a run to close out the year and snag a wild card spot. Also, you’ve got the Toronto Blue Jays (82-61) on top of the AL East with the NY Yankees (79-64) close behind. In the AL Central the Kansas City Royals (84-59) are ahead of the Minnesota Twins (75-68) by 9 games. The Twins are another surprise team with solid play from rookie Miguel Sano

So here are your contenders. One of these teams will be crowned World Series Champs come October. Here are my picks to make a deep playoff push and one to take the pennant.

Let’s start in the National League. In the East the Mets have it locked down with a 9.5 game lead. In the Central, it’s going to be tough, but I think the Cards will pitch their way into the playoffs with the division crown. In the West, the Dodgers are ahead of the Giants by 7.5 games, and as solid of a season that they’ve had, there’s no way they are catching up with the Dodgers.

So, we’ve got our three-division winner in the Mets, the Cardinals and the Dodgers. For the two wild card spots, the Pirates have the first one locked down, but it will be a tough call between the Cubs and the Giants. I say the Cubs win by a couple games.

Now, for the American League. In the East, it will be fun to watch the Yankees and Blue Jays duke it out for the top spot, but Toronto will win it, because they have too much firepower with eventual AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, and a lineup packed with amazing hitters. The Royals will win the Central easily, ahead of the pesky Twins. In the West, I predict that the Rangers will overtake the number one spot from the Astros, because they are hot at the right time to end the season with a bang. For the Wild Card, it’s going to be a fun one. There are four teams that are within five games of the second wild card, with the Rangers on top with a one game lead. I predict the two wild card teams to be the Yankees with the first spot, and the Astros with the second.

Now that we know who’s making the playoffs, here are some predictions. As we saw last year with the Royals, any team has as much of a chance as another. So let’s get down to it. National League Wild Card, Pirates vs Cubs. Chicago will likely be starting Jake Arrieta to oppose Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole. In a one-game playoff, I have got to go with Arrieta. With his 1.99 ERA to go along with 19 wins, I don’t see the Bucs winning. In the American League Wild Card, it will be the Yankees vs. the Astros. The probable starters are Dallas Keuchel for Houston and Masahiro Tanaka for New York. I think both teams get great starts from both pitchers, but the Astros will pull through and find a way to win this game.

In the National League Division Series (NLDS) between the Cubs and the Cardinals, the Cards will win by relying on their solid pitching rotation, thus ending the Cubs magical year. In the other NLDS, between the Mets and Dodgers, it will come down to the fifth and final game, with the Dodgers taking care of business.       

Let’s move on to the American League Division Series. In a five game series between the Astros and the Royals, I believe the Astros will power their way to victory in five games. In the other series, the Rangers vs. the Blue Jays, there’s no way Toronto is losing, winning the series 3-1.

In the National League Conference Series (NLCS) you have the Dodgers vs. the Cardinals. This is a tough one. They are two very good teams going head to head. I’m going to go with the Dodgers just because it’s about time they make a World Series again. In the ALCS, you have got two powerhouse offenses facing off in Toronto and Houston. The conference series are best of 7, so this will come down to the final game. The Blue Jays are just too good. They win this game to face LA in the World Series. This will be the most interesting situation for a World Series matchup this year, it will go back and forth. With Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke pitching their hearts out, Joc Pederson will tee off, and the Dodgers will be crowned as the 2015 World Champs. But that’s just what I think. Who you got?