Closing The Curtain on the 2015 National League

Despite+losing+one+of+their+star+pitchers+earlier+in+the+season%2C+the+Cardinals+were+the+first+team+in+MLB+to+reach+playoff+berth.
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Closing The Curtain on the 2015 National League

Despite losing one of their star pitchers earlier in the season, the Cardinals were the first team in MLB to reach playoff berth.

Despite losing one of their star pitchers earlier in the season, the Cardinals were the first team in MLB to reach playoff berth.

Dirk Hansen

Despite losing one of their star pitchers earlier in the season, the Cardinals were the first team in MLB to reach playoff berth.

Dirk Hansen

Dirk Hansen

Despite losing one of their star pitchers earlier in the season, the Cardinals were the first team in MLB to reach playoff berth.

Christian Gralak, Online Editor

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The curtain on the 2015 MLB season is closing, but not before teams are making their last push into the postseason. Despite having lost the All-Star game, the teams in the National League have shown to be the most surprising.

The Chicago Cubs are arguably the biggest surprise this season. The rebuilding process appears to be paying off, and they are climbing up out of hibernation, waking up once again – after many years – hopeful to play some October baseball. The thing is, the Cubs weren’t expected to make their big playoff push until 2016. Not to mention, it was only estimated they would make a playoff push, not something bigger like the World Series.

When the big name call-ups like Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and dominating Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta started making their mark on the team, the talks of playoffs started to go beyond a pennant – they formed into talks of a World Series. The Cubs are currently in sole possession of the second Wild Card spot, right behind the Pittsburgh Pirates who could see the Cubs pass them by in the next few weeks, should the Pirates lose their momentum.

The New York Mets are another team that has surprised many this year. In the first half of the season the Mets held the best MLB record at 10-3. They continued to surge and move up in their division standings, but struggled with scoring runs as the season went on. In July, the Mets acquired infielder Juan Uribe and outfielder Kelly Johnson from the Atlanta Braves and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers to provide some much-needed offensive relief.  The Mets currently stand in first place over the Washington Nationals, who, although being led by MVP candidate Bryce Harper, have been a disappointment in the NL East.

To almost no one’s surprise, the St. Louis Cardinals have been as good as everyone expected them to be. They started off the season a bit slow, but once they got rolling, they couldn’t be stopped. When the team lost their ace pitcher Adam Wainwright for the season because of a torn left Achilles, it would have seemed as though the Cardinals would finally lose their edge. On the contrary, they continued to plow through teams as if he wasn’t missing. In fact, they were the first team in the entire league to get to 90 wins. As of late they have seen some struggles so it will be interesting to see what happens once the postseason comes around. They currently hold first place in the NL Central.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are another team in the hard-hitting NL Central that has been playing incredibly well after encountering a shaky start to their season. If MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen and ace pitcher Gerrit Cole can stay healthy, the Pirates may overtake the red hot Cardinals and guarantee themselves more than one playoff game. They’re currently in second place only a few games back of St. Louis.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, the team with the highest payroll in baseball (over $310 million) is of course, one of the top teams in the NL – as expected. With two of the best pitchers in the league, Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke, the Dodgers are atop the NL West with a substantial lead over the San Francisco Giants, who won the World Series last year. They hope to get back an injured Yasiel Puig, who has been dealing with hamstring injuries on and off since April. If Puig isn’t able to make his return to the team, rookie Joc Pederson and veteran Adrian Gonzalez will be key once L.A. enters the postseason.

The postseason is set to begin on Oct. 6 with the American League Wild Card game. The National League Wild Card game will be played the next day, on Oct. 7. If the playoffs started today, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates would partake in a winner-take-all matchup in Pittsburgh for the Wild Card position. The winner of that game would then move on to face the Cardinals, with Game 1 taking place in St. Louis. The New York Mets would play against the Dodgers in L.A.

Each Division Series is the best of five games. The League Championship Series is the best of seven, as is the World Series.

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