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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

MLB playoffs underway

Los+Angeles+Dodgers+pither+Clayton+Kershaw+composes+himself+after+surrendering+a+home+run+to+the+Los+Angeles+Angels%26apos%3B+Kole+Calhoun%2C+background%2C+in+the+first+inning+at+Angel+Stadium+in+Anaheim%2C+Calif.%2C+on+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+8%2C+2015.+%28Robert+Gauthier%2FLos+Angeles+Times%2FTNS%29
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS
Los Angeles Dodgers pither Clayton Kershaw composes himself after surrendering a home run to the Los Angeles Angels' Kole Calhoun, background, in the first inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

October baseball has arrived as the MLB postseason kicks off this week, beginning with the two wildcard games from the two divisions. After the wildcard games, the American League divisional series will begin Thursday and the National League series Friday.

A few of the teams competing in the postseason may come as a surprise to baseball fans around the nation, featuring the likes of the Cubs, Astros, Blue Jays and Mets. 

One New York team is used to October (and even November) baseball, and the other hasn’t made the playoffs in nine years. The latter is the New York Mets, which will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.

This series will feature some of the most elite pitchers in the game, such as the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Cy Young award hopeful Zack Greinke, who is coming off a historic season. Greinke put up video game numbers this year, finishing with a 19-3 record, an ERA of 1.66 and 200 strikeouts.

The Mets aren’t throwing any slouches either with former NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom scheduled to pitch in the opener. The rest of the rotation hasn’t been announced yet, but expect to see the likes of other extraordinary pitchers like Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. 

Elsewhere in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals finished with the best record in the NL and won the league’s best division in the NL Central. The Cardinals will face the winner of the NL wildcard game, which begins tonight at 8 p.m. 

The Chicago Cubs notoriously have not won a World Series in 107 years, which is the longest drought in any major professional sport. But they are back in the postseason for the first time since 2008 and will face the Pittsburgh Pirates in tonight’s NL Wildcard Game in what should be another pitching matchup for the ages.

The Cubs will send Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta to the mound to face the Pirates’ ace and former UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole. 

Arrieta has made a strong case for the Cy Young award, finishing with an NL-leading 22 wins, while posting an ERA of 1.77, which is good for second in the NL behind Greinke. Arrieta also finished third in strikeouts with 236.

The Toronto Blue Jays held the longest playoff drought in the majors of 22 years, but after a magical season ignited by trade deadline acquisitions Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, the drought is no more. The last time the Jays made the playoffs, they won the World Series on a walk-off home run by Joe Carter. The Blue Jays are hoping for similar results as they host the Texas Rangers in the AL Division Series, which begins Thursday.

The Rangers are another team that was not expected to be in this position halfway into the season. The Rangers had a 50-52 record at the trade deadline when they acquired pitcher Cole Hamels from the Phillies, and the rest is history. 

With several tough teams in this year’s postseason, it will be interesting to see which will prevail.


Follow Ross Olson on Twitter.


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