The MLB championship series

by Connor Green | Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2015

The New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 last night, in Los Angeles, to move onto the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs. In the American league the Toronto Blue Jays (coming off a crazy game 5 win over the Rangers) and the Kansas City Royals will square off in the ALCS. Both of these series are unique in their own rights, although all these teams have something in common, they all had to go to a win or take all game 5 in their respective divisional series, except the Cubs. Despite that it is apparent that all four of these teams had their own, unique, journey to get to this position, and even though each of these team may be great in their own right, only one can win it all.

Let us start out with the Chicago Cubs, who have not made the NLCS since 2003 and have not won a world series in over a century (last won in 1908). The Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals, who had 100 wins in the regular season, which led all of baseball. The Cubs did some pretty extraordinary things in the series, they hit 6 home runs in game 3 of the series, which broke the record of most home runs in a playoff game by a single team. The Cubs also clinched the series at Wrigley Field, that was the first time in Wrigley’s history (built in 1914) that a playoff series was clinched there.  The Cubs have an incredible lineup of young, talented hitter like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, however the Cubs would not be in this position if it were not for their ace, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta had, arguably, the greatest second half in baseball history, Arrieta lead the MLB in wins after the All-Star break (12), while also posting an ERA (earned run average) of 0.75. Arrieta ended his 2015 season leading the major league in wins (22), the second best ERA (1.77) and put himself towards the top of the Cy Young conversation with Zack Greinke. It is also worth noting that Arrieta was credited with 2 of the Cubs win in the divisional series (he also posted a 2.45 ERA in those two games). The Cubs will have to take on the New York Mets in the championship series, which begins this Saturday. The Cubs are looking to reach the World Series for the first time since 1945, remember that’s when World War 2 was being fought.

Now let us get to the Cubs opponents in the NLCS, the New York Mets. The Mets beat the Dodgers in their divisional series with great pitching and some offensive outbursts.  The Dodgers had a chance to beat the Mets, at home, game 5, a win or go home game, with their ace, Zack Greinke on the mound. Greinke had a 19-0 record at Dodgers Stadium going into the game against the Mets. However in the end, game 5 came down to a mistake (along with smart base running by Daniel Murphy) and a home run by Murphy and the Mets won 3-2. The Mets have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, they have Jacob Degrom, who is nothing short of amazing, Matt Harvey, who had a good season after returning from Tommy John surgery the year before and Noah Syndergaard, who had a great rookie season. Despite this it is the Mets amazing second half offensively which gave them the push to be World Series contenders. The Mets scored the third least runs in baseball pre-All Star break (310), however after acquiring Yoenis Cespedes and a few other players (like Kelly Johnson), the Mets actually had the third most runs scored after the All Star break (373). The Mets set a franchise postseason record when they scored 13 runs in game 3 of the divisional series. The Mets have an incredible challenge ahead of them against the Cubs, however they have home field advantage and a chance to win the World Series for the first time since 1986.

Next let us take a look at the Kansas City Royals, who beat the Houston Astros in their divisional series. The Royals won the American league central and had 95 regular season wins. Kansas City had a deadly combination of great pitching and hitting that got them to this point. Kendry Morales was arguably the Royals best hitter, Morales finished 2015 with an impressive 0.847 OPS (On base plus slugging) and 22 home runs. The Royals also have Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, all whom had impressive seasons as well. Johnny Cueto was the ace of the Royals who they acquired from the Reds in the middle of the season. Cueto finished 2015 with an impressive 3.44 ERA and over 200 innings pitched(combined for Reds and Royals). The Royals will face the explosive Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS, the Royals lost in the World Series last year to the San Francisco Giants and will be looking to win it all this year.

Lastly we will look at the 2015 AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays. If you watched game 5 of their divisional series against the Rangers you know how crazy their fans can get. The Blue Jays made a lot of mid-season moves which improved their already great team to make it one of the best offensive teams the MLB has ever seen. The Blue Jays lead the MLB in runs scored this year (891), they did this by outscoring the next highest team (Yankees) by 127 runs. The Blue Jays have some absolutely fantastic hitters like Jose Bautista, who had 40 regular season home runs, Bautista also hit the go ahead three run home run in game 5. The Blue Jays also have Josh Donaldson, who is in contention for the MVP, Donaldson had 41 home runs and ended 2015 second in WAR (saber metric, Wins above Replacement) with an 8.8 WAR.  The Blue Jays pitching was 12th in ERA in the regular season (3.80), the Jays pitching ace was probably Marco Estrada who finished 2015 with an impressive 3.13 ERA. The Blue Jays will face a tough Kansas City team in the championship series, but they look to win their first world series since 1993.

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