When October hits each year, there is only one thing on every true baseball fan’s mind: playoff baseball. This year is no exception; with the division series for both the American and National League came and passed, only four teams in all of baseball remain. The team that will be crowned World Series Champion, however, remains to be seen.
To reach the World Series, the two remaining teams in both leagues must first win a best of seven League Championship Series. In the American League, the Kansas City Royals will face the Toronto Blue Jays, while in the National League the Chicago Cubs will square off against the New York Mets. Seniors at Leonia High School and avid baseball fans Kyle Marshall, and Jojo Robinson gave their predictions on who will achieve victory in the upcoming series as well as the World Series in total.
This series brings together two teams who, for much of the season, were considered the best two teams in the American League.
The Toronto Blue Jays, whose trade deadline acquisitions of ace David Price and star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, have what most consider to be the most dangerous lineup in all of baseball. As Kyle Marshall, a shortstop and pitcher at Leonia High School explained, “Hands down they have the strongest lineup 1-9, along two great pitchers in Price and [Marcus] Stroman, who can flat out win. [The Blue Jays] are dangerous”. Stroman, who returned from a preseason injury in early August, has pitched great for the Jays so far, and will start game two of the upcoming series behind Price. The Jays’ main weakness, however, lies in their bullpen. Despite the feared offense and superb starting pitching, expect the bullpen to be a deciding factor of the success of the Jays going forward.
The Kansas City Royals, on the other hand, are likely the most complete team in all of baseball. With one of the best bullpens in all of baseball, and a youthful and experienced starting lineup that includes stars like Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez, the Royals weakest area starting the year seemed to be in their starting pitching. The acquisition of former twenty game winner Johnny Cueto solved this problem, however. “The Royals are a deep team that are going to be tough for any team to beat. I think they’ll beat [the Jays] in five games,” predicted Jojo Robinson, a two sport athlete at Leonia.
My prediction? The Blue Jays offense will be too much for the Royals starting pitching even with Cueto, and will beat the Royals in six games.
National League Championship Series: Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets
It is no secret that the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series Championship since 1908, over one hundred and seven years ago. Although since then they have come close, the last time they even reached the World Series was in 1945, when predictably, they were swept in four games. The Cubs last made the playoffs in 2008 when, you guessed it, they were swept in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This year, however, things are different. There is an energy around this team that screams positivity. Led by MVP candidate Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs are an incredibly young team, starting a remarkable four rookies, including the more-than-likely Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant. The pitching staff is led by Jake Arrieta, whose historic twenty-two win season was the most of any Cubs pitcher in decades and will likely earn him the Cy Young Award. The Cubs are playing better than anyone anticipated this year, and even if they do not win it all, the season will be seen as a complete success. As Marshall went on to explain, “The Cubs are an exciting team. A championship for them would mean so much to the city of Chicago, baseball, and all of sports in general”.
The Cubs adversary in the series is the New York Mets, a team that ran away with their division during the regular season due to great pitching and an outburst of offense sparked by trade deadline acquisition Yoenis Cespedes. A young pitching staff led by Jacob DeGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets are a strong team with pitching that can trump almost any team’s offense. The masterful pitching of the Mets against the offensive behemoth that is the Chicago Cubs will make for an extremely entertaining series.
My prediction? What’s happening in Chicago right now seems magical, and at this point in time, I’m not sure anyone can stop the Cubs. They won all seven regular season games against the Mets this year, and it’s hard to imagine they will stop now. The Cubs are the most fun team in baseball right now, and nobody wants a championship more than the city of Chicago. I predict the Cubs will win the series in five games, and go on to win the 2015 World Series for the first time in over a century, the longest drought in all of sports.