MLB playoff picture beginning to shape up as October approaches

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The start of the MLB postseason is just one week away, and with five of the ten teams that will be making it out of the regular season already known, the playoff picture is almost complete.

 

The reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox won’t be making an appearance in this year’s postseason, but potentially five teams that chased the pinnacle of baseball success last season will be doing it again in 2014. And for some teams, playing baseball in October once again has been a long time coming.

 

American League

The Baltimore Orioles clinched the AL East crown and will be returning to the postseason for the first time since 1997. They have home-field advantage throughout the ALDS and a strong offense led by the MLB home run leader, Nelson Cruz (39), to help them chase their fourth World Series title.

 

The Los Angeles Angels also have home-field advantage when they start postseason play for the first time since 2009. They won the West division title and currently boast the best record in the majors. The Angels have been playing great baseball and could make a lengthy run in October with arguably the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, leading the way.

  

The Detroit Tigers currently sit atop the Central division, but just by one game. Breathing down their necks are the Kansas City Royals, who haven’t made the playoffs since they won the World Series in 1985.

 

Whoever ends up second in that division will most likely be playing the Oakland Athletics. The A’s are up one game on the Royals in the wild card standings and are looking for their third consecutive postseason appearance.

 

Playoff prediction:

AL Wild Card- OAK v. KC

ALDS- OAK/KC v. LAA

ALDS- BAL v. DET

 

National League

The Washington Nationals hold the NL East division title and are ready to make up for missing the postseason last year. Though they’re still trying to claim home-field advantage in the NLDS, they have been playing solid baseball in the month of September led by impressive outings from their pitching staff, particularly ace Stephen Strasburg.

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers will be coming out of the NL West for their second straight playoff appearance currently only two wins away from a division title. A great pitching staff featuring probable Cy Young and NL MVP Award winner Clayton Kershaw will be the backbone to a World Series run for the Dodgers.

 

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched a playoff berth out of the NL Central for the fourth consecutive year and are four wins away from capturing their division crown. The Cardinals will look to their pitching staff, topped by 20-game winner Adam Wainwright, to help them win their second World Series title in four years.

 

In the NL wild card race, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants sit five games up on the Milwaukee Brewers, who are seemingly out of postseason contention. The Pirates and the Giants, both with 85-71 records, look to finish the season well enough to face each other in a one-game playoff on Oct. 1.

 

Playoff predictions:

NL Wild Card- PITT v. SF

NLDS- PITT/SF v. WSH

NLDS- LAD v. STL