The Daily Gamecock

Predicting the NL Playoffs

NL East: New York Mets

The fate of the New York Mets appears to have finally flipped in their favor. New York is currently on pace for its highest win total since the 2008 season and has a legitimate shot at taking home the National League Pennant. The franchise’s face for the past decade, David Wright, returned to the lineup in dramatic fashion last week after back issues sidelined him for four months, blasting a solo home run during his very first at bat. Wright’s triumphant return combined with New York’s brilliant pitching rotation and the all-around impressive play of newly acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes proves the Mets just may have what it takes to bring a World Series title back to Queens. The camaraderie and team chemistry has resonated with the Mets fans and has shown some semblance to the magical run by the Boston Red Sox in 2013.

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis has shined as the obvious World Series favorite at this point in the season. The Cardinals will likely end the MLB’s three-year drought of 100-win seasons, assuming they can muster up a .500 record the remainder of the way, with no signs of stoppage there. This team is hitting on all cylinders from offense to pitching to fielding to chemistry. St. Louis’ team ERA has led the MLB for quite some time now, and its second-best run differential shows this team is not solely reliant on pitching. The Cardinals are for real.

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

Since Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s group of investors purchased the Dodgers organization in 2012 for $2 billion, management has endowed its roster with great fortunes. In fact, the Dodgers have endured such a spending binge that the team’s payroll exceeded $300 million this year, which is nearly $90 million more than the Yankees. Point being, with all of the cash poured into this team, the Dodgers should be and are on track to win the NL West. Clayton Kershaw has again proven to be the league’s best regular season pitcher, allowing just eight runs in his previous 10 starts, with his counterpart Zack Greinke producing just as well. Together, Greinke and Kershaw have the skills to carry Los Angeles through the playoffs.

NL Wild Cards: Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs

It’s truly criminal that the Pirates and Cubs will have to duel it out in a single-elimination Wild Card game, frankly because of viewership — they are fun teams to watch. Pittsburgh’s hitting has been shaky throughout the season and overall team defense even worse, but its pitching staff is simply outstanding.

Similarly, the Cubs’ bats have nearly been nonexistent this season, ranking last in team batting average, but once again it’s the pitching that has carried this franchise to a near playoff berth. The Joe Maddon coached Cubs are unique to past years because they have an identity and charisma that is necessary to extend the season into October.

World Series Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Toronto Blue Jays