MLB Playoff Preview

Bailey Adams, Sports Editor

2015 was a crazy year for Major League Baseball, but the final month promises to be even crazier. It’s time for some postseason baseball. Here’s a look at what lies ahead this October:

Tuesday, October 6

Houston Astros at New York Yankees (American League Wild Card game: one-game playoff)

Coming into the season, the young Astros were seen as a team that could contend a few years from now, but they broke onto the scene early by riding the bats of Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis and rookie Carlos Correa. To complement their upstart lineup, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh have proven to be one of top young pitching duos in the game.

The Yankees were on the opposite side of the spectrum coming into the year. For years, they’ve been one of the oldest teams in the league, but the reemergence of 40-year-old Alex Rodriguez as the team’s most productive player kept New York in the hunt all year long. Rodriguez’s 33 home runs and the rest of the offense have made up for an inconsistent starting rotation.

Pitching matchup: HOU- Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA) NYY- Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51 ERA)

Wednesday, October 7

Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates (National League Wild Card game: one-game playoff)

The Cubs are another inexperienced team that finds themselves in the postseason picture. Ex-Rays manager Joe Maddon has experience with October baseball from his days in Tampa Bay, but his roster on the final day of the regular season had 22 players under the age of 30. The likes of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have led the way offensively for Chicago while Jake Arrieta has come into his own as the team’s top starting pitcher.

The Pirates, who clinched a postseason berth for the third straight season, now host the play-in game, looking to earn another shot at St. Louis. Andrew McCutchen, one of the top all-around players in the game, had another productive year, but the surrounding cast of Pedro Alvarez, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte kept the offense going as well. Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano anchor the Pittsburgh rotation heading into postseason play.

Pitching matchup: CHC- Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA) PIT- Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60 ERA)

Thursday, October 8

TBA at Kansas City Royals (Best-of-five series)

With seven all-stars on the roster, Ned Yost’s ball club had another big year, this time winning the American League Central. The bullpen proved once again to be one of the best in baseball while a dangerous lineup from top to bottom that includes Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas led the Royals to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays (Best-of-five series)

The Rangers clinched the American League West on the final day of the regular season after being eight games out of first place just two months ago. They have bounced back from a 95-loss season in 2014 behind the power trio of Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre, who combined for 64 home runs.

The Blue Jays rolled to the American League East title after the trade deadline. Their biggest acquisition came in the form of David Price, who boosted a starting rotation that already included Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey. Josh Donaldson had a MVP-type year with a .297 average, 41 home runs and 123 RBI.

Friday, October 9

TBA at St. Louis Cardinals (Best-of-five series)

100 wins almost wasn’t enough to clinch the National League Central. At 100-62, the Cardinals won the division by two games over Pittsburgh and will now meet the winner of the National League Wild Card game. Four of five starters in the St. Louis rotation finished with over 10 wins and the return of Adam Wainwright (should he make the postseason roster) could give an added spark to an already-solid group.

New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers (Best-of-five series)

The Mets enter the postseason as yet another surprise contender, overcoming the highly-touted Washington Nationals to win the division. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey could be one of the best 1-2 punches in the league for years to come while the addition of Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline gives the New York lineup a big bat in the middle of the order.

For years, Clayton Kershaw has been the ace of the Los Angeles staff. A 16-7 record and a 2.13 ERA wasn’t good enough to live up to that billing this year, but only because Zack Grienke emerged with a 19-3 mark and a 1.66 ERA. The Dodgers won the National League West by eight games, so they enter the opening best-of-five series with what should be a well-rested roster.

View the full postseason schedule here.