As we end Major League Baseball's regular season weekend, nine of the 10 playoffs spot have been nailed down. So before we begin the postseason let's look at current MLB futures odds.
AL Field Awaiting One Team
The Toronto Blue Jays are American League East champions and have ended the longest playoff drought in the majors. They previously made it in 1993, repeating as World Series champions -- I'm sure you remember Game 6 of that Fall Classic with Joe Carter hitting the series-clinching walk-off homer off Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams.
Toronto was a middling team up until the week of the trade deadline, when GM Alex Anthopolous made two stunning deals, practically emptying the Jays' farm system in a win-now mode. Anthopolous acquired one of the best shortstops in baseball, Troy Tulowitzki, from the Colorado Rockies. That Tulo was traded by the Rockies wasn't a shock, but the Blue Jays already had a pretty good player at that position in Jose Reyes. He went to Colorado in the deal with prospects. And then Anthopolous dealt another haul, including top pitching prospect Daniel Norris, to Detroit for potential 2015 AL Cy Young winner David Price -- either Price or Houston's Dallas Keuchel is going to win the award.
Tulowitzki hasn't played since Sept. 12 due to a small crack in his shoulder blade suffered when colliding with a teammate but is expected to return Saturday and get in two games to shake off the rust before the ALDS. Tulo is hitting only .232 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 39 games with Toronto, but the team is 31-8 with him in the lineup. And he's very good defensive player and leader. Price, meanwhile, gives Toronto the ace it didn't have. The lefty is 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA with Toronto and 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA overall. The Jays are hoping he can carry the team to a title like Madison Bumgarner did with the Giants last year.
The Blue Jays are +175 favorites on MLB odds to win the AL pennant and +350 favorites to win the World Series. Remember, the AL won the All-Star Game in July so the AL team would have home-field advantage.
We still don't know who Toronto will play in the ALDS. The Jays are still battling AL Central champion Kansas City for the No. 1 seed in the American League. The Royals are +225 to win the pennant and +550 for the World Series. They have really run into some pitching issues of late, however -- i.e. Johnny Cueto, although he has been better in his past three outings. Whichever team doesn't get the top seed would thus play AL West winner Texas in the ALDS.
The Rangers are +500 to win the pennant and +1000 to win the World Series. The top AL wild-card team, the Yankees, is +650 to win the pennant and +1400 for the World Series. The second wild-card team is TBA.
MLB Free Pick: The Blue Jays lead the majors by far in homers. Only one team this century, the 2009 Yankees, won the World Series after leading the league in homers. I will hold off on my WS pick until the field is finalized, but I say the Jays do win the pennant.
National League Field Set
One NL Division Series is set: the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers will square off, with Game 1 next Friday. It most likely will be at Citi Field. And the Game 1 matchup probably will feature the Mets' Jacob deGrom and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.
Expect very few runs in this series as the Mets are loaded with young pitching: Noah Syndergaard likely in Game 2 and Matt Harvey in Game 3. And of course the Dodgers have the three-time Cy Young winner in Kershaw, although he has had some playoff troubles in his career, and Zack Greinke, who might win this year's Cy Young and leads the majors in ERA. If Greinke doesn't win the Cy, it will be the Cubs' Jake Arrieta.
The Dodgers almost have to win the first two games because they are really weak in the rotation after those two. The team also doesn't know whether it will have outfielder Yasiel Puig for the NLDS. He hasn't played since Aug. 27 due to a hamstring injury but reportedly is running 100 percent in Arizona so perhaps he will make it back.
L.A. is +250 to win the pennant and +550 to win the World Series. The Mets are +300 and +700, respectively.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals will host the winner of Wednesday's Cubs-Pirates wild-card game in the other NLDS. The Cards are really banged up. Arguably their second-best pitcher, Carlos Martinez, is out for the season with shoulder trouble. Catcher Yadier Molina has a torn ligament in his thumb but is optimistic he can return for the playoffs. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty suffered a concussion on a scary-looking collision earlier this week, but he actually should be OK for the NLDS. But those things can also linger. St. Louis is +225 on MLB odds to win the pennant and +550 for the World Series.
I actually believe the Cubs-Pirates winner beats the Cardinals in the NLDS. Pittsburgh is +500 for the pennant and the Cubs +600.
MLB Free Pick: I lean toward the Dodgers winning the NL at the moment. In a seven-game series, they can start Kershaw and Greinke a combined four times at least.