There are mere days until the end of the 2014 regular season in Major League Baseball, and they should be filled with emotional moments and last-minute pushes. Derek Jeter will play his last game as a New York Yankee on Sunday at Fenway Park – provided the Yankees do not make the playoffs. There is potential for a Beltway World Series. There are only a handful of games left to play before the postseason begins, but there is still so much that has yet to happen.
The question everyone is asking, is: Which team will win it all?
Some teams have already clinched a playoff berth, and are now preparing for the postseason. The Baltimore Orioles have clinched the AL East, while their beltway neighbors in the Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East. Along with those two teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will be playing October baseball.
That still leaves six slots unfilled. The Pittsburgh Pirates – those same Pirates that did not make the playoffs for 21 consecutive years – are poised to fill one of those spots. The team holds the top wild card spot, and have a five-game lead on the only team still with a mathematical chance of taking away a wildcard spot. The San Francisco Giants hold the other wild card position in the National League as of right now.
Both the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals should make the playoffs, with one team winning the AL Central and the other team taking a wildcard position. The second AL wild card could go to any of four teams. While everyone would like to see Jeter make the playoffs in his final season and perhaps earn another World Series ring, the final spot will likely go to the Oakland A’s or the Seattle Mariners, though the Cleveland Indians have a chance as well.
If the standings remain how they are right now, it will be Oakland who takes that final place in the postseason. There are also tie-breaker scenarios in place, if the standings are even at the end of the regular season in any way.
October baseball is the most exciting baseball of the season, simply because it carries so much weight and importance. Will the Beltway Series take center stage in October, or will two LA teams face off against each other for the World Series?
The Orioles seem to have the best chance at the ALCS title. While their offense has struggled at times this season, their pitching has kept them in games and oftentimes won those games. Pitching is ultimately what wins baseball games. No matter how many times the offense scores, if the pitchers cannot keep the other team from scoring, there is no chance at victory.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, should win the National League pennant. Their rotation consists of Clayton Kershaw and two other pitchers who could be the ace for most teams, so it is hard to bet against that kind of talent.
Without a doubt, this will be a World Series dominated by pitching. While it seems illogical to bet against Clayton Kershaw, the Orioles are getting hot at the right time, and seem to keep winning even when curveballs – such as the Chris Davis suspension – get thrown at the team.
While Baltimore is poised to win it all, the game of baseball is crazy and unpredictable. Everything could change with one play, including the championship.