Wild Card: No. 5 New York Mets at No. 4 Miami Marlins
The Mets (28-23) are not supposed to be anywhere near a playoff discussion, let alone anywhere near .500. Yet, thanks to a monster April and May from David Wright and Daniel Murphy, the Amazin's are only a game and a half behind first-place Washington. But things won't last in Queens unless the rest of the lineup continues to pick up the offensive slack when the stars cool down and, more importantly, the bullpen wakes up and stops blowing games.
The Marlins (29-22) are on absolutely on fire. How's that? In all of May, the Fish only had the best record in the majors by going 21-8 and didn't lose a single series (including a solid three-game sweep of the Nats). Behind a tough rotation and the ridiculous bat of Mike, sorry, Giancarlo Stanton, Miami right now looks like a tough out in any series.
Match-up: It's becoming increasingly difficult to count the Mets out of anything these days, but ITSET, I see New York heading down to Miami, grabbing a three-run lead, and then blowing it when Stanton sends a bases loaded jack into South Beach in the bottom of the eighth. Marlins 1-0
NLDS: No. 3 Cincinnati Reds at No. 2 Washington Nationals
The Reds (28-22) just dropped two out of three to Pittsburgh–never a good thing–but won or split their five previous series including two out of three from the Yanks and a four-game sweep of Atlanta. Leading the rotation so far for Cincy has been starter Johnny Cueto, who's 5-3 record is misleading to say the least. And when the bat's in their hands, the Reds don't seem to have much trouble scoring runs with Joey Votto (.424 in the last time games) in the lineup.
When you look at the NL East, it's hard for anyone to say they expected the Nationals (29-21) to be sitting in first by a half game. This is even harder to comprehend when you look at some of Washington's offensive rankings across the league (26th in runs scored, 23rd in batting average), but then you take a gander at their pitching stats and the world starts to make sense again. The Washington Nationals ranks 1st in the league in ERA, WHIP, and opponents batting average. In short, with freak of nature Stephen Strasburg leading the way, the Nats have the best pitching staff in league right now.
Match-up: The Reds are good but inconsistent at this point and ITSET, it would be near impossible to beat a team with that good a pitching staff in that short a series. Nationals 3-1
NLDS: No. 4 Miami Marlins at No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers
As with Washington, they key to success for the Dodgers (32-19) lies with their pitching staff. With superstar Matt Kemp battling injury after injury, Chris Capuano (who goes for win No. 8 tonight against Colorado) has led the rotation to earn the 2nd best team ERA and opponents batting average in the league. The team is coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers but still hold a one-game lead over the Rangers for the league's best record. If they can redeem themselves by performing well on their upcoming 10-game road trip, then this team should continue to be feared.
Match-up: The Marlins stays fired up from their dramatic win over New York and takes the first two games in Miami. LA is just too good at home though, and ITSET, they have no problem advancing. Dodgers 3-2
NLCS: No. 2 Washington Nationals at No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers
If this series actually comes to existence (which depends mostly on whether or not the Nationals really are the team they claim to be playing as), it would be one of the coolest match-ups possible. I wouldn't bet too hard on it happening this year, but I have a very good feeling that these two teams are going to meet deep in the playoffs many times in the years to come. The pitching staffs are just too good to not hold together solid teams for at least a couple seasons.
Match-up: With the pitching staffs in an apparent deadlock for dominance, this series could very well come down to whose bats are hotter, which could very well come down to the health of Matt Kemp. If he's not swinging the bat well, I can imagine Bryce Harper being the offensive story of the series. But more than likely, with a more well-rounded lineup, the Dodgers muscle through and win their first pennant since '88. Dodgers 4-2