Major League Baseball’s Postseason is set to begin, and it is as wide open as can ever be remembered. While the St. Louis Cardinals own the best record and are the only team with 100 wins, injuries have put a large shadow over their chances.
The Cardinals have owned baseball’s best record virtually the entire season, but the foundation has been crumbling of late. Catcher and Captain, Yadier Molina, so crucial in handling the young pitching staff and anchoring the defense has a torn thumb ligament that has kept him out. Even if he does somehow play, he will be quite limited. The Cardinals are a below .500 team without Molina in the lineup. To that add the loss of Carlos Martinez who won 14 games, and issues surrounding outfielder Matt Holliday and pitcher Adam Wainwright—and the Cardinals are far from a sure bet.
Their opponent in the Best-of-Five Division Series was determined by Wednesday’s Wild Card Game between the Cubs and Pirates in Pittsburgh. The winner of that game is considered the favorite for the National League Pennant. It was Jake Arrieta vs. Gerrit Cole in a marquee pitching matchup. Arrieta had the greatest second half of any starting pitcher ever, 16-1 with a 0.80 ERA.
The other N.L. Division Series has been set between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The weak finish by the Mets insured home-field advantage for the Dodgers—not good for New York. Now the Mets will have to face Dodgers aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the twilight—a tall order, but the Dodgers have the same issue against Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Mets ace Matt Harvey will not pitch until game three, quite the circus surrounding him and his innings. It has been a large detriment for the Mets and for Harvey.
The Kansas City Royals gained home field in the American League with a strong finish, but not sure if it was much of a priority though for Toronto who finished two games back. The Royals will meet the winner of Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, while the Blue Jays get the Texas Rangers. The Yankees are in disarray. A poor finish to the season nearly cost them home field against the Astros, and the pitching situation is in flux. Masahiro Tanaka went in the Wild Card Game. Should the Yankees meet the Royals, who knows who can or cannot pitch.
The Cardinals and Royals have been out front all season, but each has shown cracks down the stretch. The Cubs and Blue Jays have been the hot teams in August and September. Though the Cubs have an extra hurdle, most consider them the favorites to meet in the World Series. But anything is possible in October. The two who squared off last season both had to win the Wild Card Game on their way.