The 2015 MLB postseason can finally begin now that the Wild-Card games (not real playoff games) are over. Eight teams in the divisional series, with no clear favorites, except maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also participating? The Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals.
It’s been a while: The Cubs are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, when they got swept by the Dodgers. Infact, they haven’t won a postseason game or series since 2003, that ended in that oh so tragic 4-3 loss to the Florida (now Miami) Marlins.
Who are they up against? Division rivals, St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs were red hot in the final months of the season, finishing three games behind the Cards. The two last played a series in early September (7-9) with the Cubs taking two of three in St. Louis.
It’s been a very long while: The Astros, like the Cubs, got to this place through the wild-card game, beating the New York Yankees. Their last playoff appearance? In 2005, when they made the World Series and got swept by the White Sox. It’s also been pretty bleak for them over the last few years, winning just 162 games through 2011-2013, and improving to 70 in 2014. This season? Surprising 86-76 record, second in the AL West.
Next up? The Royals, a team they haven’t faced since July, when Kansas City took two of three at home.
Kansas City Royals
Something good is happening here: The Royals finished with the best record in the American League (95-67) and are coming back to the playoffs after being one game away from winning the World Series, losing in seven games to the Giants.
Up Next? The Astros, who they last faced in July, taking two of three in a home series.
Los Angeles Dodgers
More of the same? The Dodgers spend more money than anyone in Baseball. They’ve now won the NL West three years in a row. Last season the Cardinals took them out in the NLDS. A year earlier? The Cardinals again, this time in the NLCS.
And this time? The Dodgers face the surprising New York Mets in the NLDS, a team they split a four game series with back in July. If they get through them, it’ll be the Cardinals, maybe.
New York Mets
It’s been awhile 3.0: After six consecutive seasons of winning 79 games or less, the Mets suddenly jump to 90, enjoying a Nationals collapse to take the NL East and make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. That year, they swept the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Dodgers. The Mets will meet perennial NL West champions and annual playoff disappointment Dodgers in the divisional series. They split a four game series with them back in July, playing at home.
St. Louis Cardinals
Used to this: Since 2000, the Cardinals have missed the playoffs only four times. This is their fifth consecutive playoff appearance, making the World Series twice in this run, winning it last in 2011. They lost to the New York Giants in the NLCS last year, and haven’t lost a divisional series since 2009 when they faced the Dodgers. The Cardinals finished with the best record in Baseball this season, the only team to win 100 games.
Who now? The Cubs, who gave them a good run late in the season in the NL Central. The Cubs took two of three in their last series.
Not supposed to be here: The Rangers should have been one of the worst teams in the majors this season. Yet they ended up somehow jumping over the Angels while the Mariners and A’s provided major disappointments, and are in the postseason following a 90-win season for the fourth time since 2010.
Rivals? Playing the Blue Jays, a team they met in August last for three games. Toronto took two of three.
Toronto Blue Jays
It’s been forever: The Blue Jays have had good seasons and bad. Mostly, they’ve been out of the picture. For 22 years, when they won back-to-back World Series. They won the AL East with 93 games, six ahead of the New York Yankees.
Next up? The Rangers, a team they beat in two out of three this August in their latest meeting.