For once, the National League might have been more exciting than the American League. The big story at the beginning of the year was whether or not the Cubs would be a year ahead of schedule, and win the elusive World Series. Well, they are looking good so far. The other story, that wasn’t really a story, was that the Giants wouldn’t make the playoffs because it’s an odd numbered year. Guess what? They didn’t make the playoffs. Anyway, here are my predictions.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs:
For anyone that’s not a baseball fan, or that doesn’t live in the mid-west, this is considered to be one of the biggest rivalries in Major League Baseball. These teams absolutely hate each other. That’s going to make this feel like an early 2000’s Yankees vs. Red Sox playoff matchup. St. Louis began the season winning, got to the middle of the season winning, and ended the season…winning. That’s just what they do. They win so much that people have forgotten about their little database cheating scandal.
The Cardinals pitching rotation is scary good. Each starter in the rotation brings something different to the mound. Michael Wacha leads the team with 17 wins. John Lackey has revitalized his career in St. Louis, and leads the team with a 2.77 ERA. And Carlos Martinez is their strikeout leader with 184. Carpenter and Heyward will carry this team on offense, and they’re going to need it, because Chicago has plenty of very good bats in its lineup.
Then there’s the Cubs. After a dominant start from Arrieta against the Pirates in the Wildcard, Chicago looks like the team to beat. Adding Jon Lester to the rotation in the off-season is what really made this team believers. They’re loaded on offense with young talent like Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant. These guys can hit the ball a long way. I’m pretty sure Schwarber’s homer against Pittsburgh still hasn’t landed. Those bats combined with the one two punch of Arrieta and Lester, and the Cubbies going to give everything St. Louis can handle.
The Cardinals won the division. Conventional wisdom says St. Louis. But, I got to go with the Cubs. I might be a sucker for the underdog, but these guys have arguably been playing the best baseball since the All-Star break. Hopefully they can keep Steve Bartman away from Wrigley. Cubs 3-2.
New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers:
The Mets are another team, like the Cubs, that are a year ahead of schedule. Going into the season everybody was picking the Nationals to win the division, and even the World Series. Well, they’re not even in the playoffs. That’s because the Mets (you read that right) absolutely dominated this division with their starting pitching for the second half of the season.
Jacob DeGrom is just filthy good. He’s got a 2.54 ERA and 205 strikeouts. Obviously we all know about Matt Harvey. But there’s one more guy that shines for their rotation. Bartolo Colon! At 42 years young, the man just gets better with age. They’re going to be relying on these arms to carry them, especially considering the end of the year batting slump that plagued their lineup.
The Dodgers pretty much knew going into the season that they had the division wrapped up. The Giants were coming off of another even year World Series, which meant that they weren’t going to be in the hunt. The Dodgers are also led by pitching. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke competed to see who could go the most innings without giving up a run. Kershaw went 40 straight, while Greinke went 45 2/3 innings. That’s just insane! If the Dodgers are going to advance to the NLCS they will need dominant pitching. The offense is led by Adrian Gonzalez in every stat. Puig was injured for much of the year, and barely made the post-season roster. But it’s October, and everything can change.
The Mets limped into the playoffs after they clinched the NL East. You’d think that getting no-hit by Max Scherzer in the second to last game of the season would kill their confidence. Add this with the fact that Matt Harvey is essentially picking and choosing when he gets to pitch, and it’s going to be trouble for the Mets. Dodgers 3-1.