MLB Playoff Schedule 2014: Start Times, Dates, Live Stream and TV Info

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2014

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After 162 games, nearly six months of action and one prolonged farewell for Derek Jeter, the 2014 MLB postseason is nearing its genesis.    

The field is finally set following Sunday's games. More than a few races went right down to the wire. You can see the playoff teams below:

2014 MLB Playoff Representatives
American LeagueNational League
EastBaltimore Orioles (96-66)Washington Nationals (96-66)
CentralDetroit Tigers (90-72)St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)
WestLos Angeles Angels (98-64)Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68)
WildKansas City Royals (89-73)Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74)
CardsOakland Athletics (88-74)San Francisco Giants (88-74)
MLB.com

Here is a bracket of the playoff picture via Cork Gaines of BusinessInsider.com: 

Last year's champions won't be present to defend their crown. Fortunes changed rather abruptly for the Boston Red Sox, who went from World Series winners to last place in the American League East within the space of a year.

This year's postseason has a nice mix of everything. Even fanbases whose teams were eliminated from postseason contention weeks ago will likely develop a rooting interest over the coming days as the action heats up.

You can see the schedule and a brief preview for the Wild Card Playoff and Division Series below.

Playoff Schedule (courtesy of MLB.com)

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Note: You can watch the entire postseason live with a subscription to MLB.TV.

Wild Card Playoff

Wild Card Playoff
LeagueMatchupDateTime (ET)TV Info
AmericanOAK at KCTues., Sept. 308:07 p.m.TBS
NationalSF at PITWed., Oct. 18:07 p.m.ESPN
MLB.com

The sentimental favorite will be the Kansas City Royals. The franchise last appeared in the postseason in 1985, when George Brett finished second in the MVP voting and Bret Saberhagen took home his first of two Cy Young Awards.

MLB also posted this handy photo to Instagram, which offers a brief time capsule into 1985:

The Royals will likely kick themselves for slipping up in the second half of the season and allowing the Detroit Tigers to win the AL Central, but as long as they make it through the one-game playoff unscathed, all will be forgiven.

Kansas City doesn't have a wealth of offense, but it possesses enough arms to make a deep run. The Royals finished the regular season ranked 19th in starting pitcher FIP (3.88) and sixth in reliever FIP (3.31).

Few will give KC a chance of winning the World Series, but all the Royals need to do is hit a hot streak, and then anything could happen.

At least they enter the postseason with some momentum, unlike the Oakland Athletics, whose fortunes went in the tank after that audacious swoop for Jon Lester. You can't trace Oakland's decline to any one factor. A lot of things have gone wrong in a short amount of time.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 27: Mike Gallego #2 of the Oakland Athletics congratulates Josh Donaldson #20 for hitting a home run in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 27, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

However, writing for FiveThirtyEight, Jonah Keri and Neil Payne arrived at the conclusion that the way a team finishes the regular season isn't always a strong indicator of its playoff chances:

In the end, we found that full-season winning percentages were a significant predictor of postseason outcomes. But the degree to which a team was hot after June, July or August was not statistically significant when it came to forecasting playoff proficiency. [...]

Still, given the hot-or-not narratives that pop up every October, and the lack of evidence to support the momentum theory, it’s probably time to take the A’s a bit more seriously as contenders. Jay Jaffe (at Baseball Prospectus) and Dave Cameron (for Fox Sports) both tested the theory by looking at playoff results from 1995 on and couldn’t find any statistically significant correlation either.

Count out the A's at your own expense.

In the National League, the San Francisco Giants meet the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates are no strangers to the one-game playoff, having beaten the Cincinnati Reds to win the NL Wild Card last year.

Bleacher Report's Jason Catania wrote that Pittsburgh is positioned well to make some noise in the postseason this year, too:

That said, there certainly was a just-happy-to-be-here sentiment to the Pirates' postseason last year. Like they were the little brother who finally fought his way and got the chance to play ball with his older siblings.

This time around? That feeling is gone.

One October? That's a cute story with the potential to wind up being a bit of a fluke. But two straight? That's practically a trend these days.

With Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano, the Pirates have two arms at the top of the rotation who can change a series. Offensively, Pittsburgh can call upon any one of Andrew McCutchen, Josh Harrison or Starling Marte to provide a jolt and spark the team into life.

The Pirates won't be as easy an out as they were last year.

The Giants, of course, have won two World Series titles since 2010, so they can call upon a wealth of postseason experience. Their midseason malaise in July and August isn't exactly reassuring, however. Like the A's, San Francisco is a Jekyll and Hyde-type team.

If recent history is any indicator, the Giants will at the very least make the Fall Classic. In their last four trips to the postseason, they've advanced to the World Series three times, winning in each of their last two appearances.

Division Series (2-2-1 format)

American League Division Series—Los Angeles vs. AL Wild Card
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV Info
1AL Wild Card at LAAThurs., Oct. 2TBDTBS
2AL Wild Card at LAAFri., Oct. 3TBDTBS
3LAA at AL Wild CardSun., Oct. 5TBDTBS
4*LAA at AL Wild CardMon., Oct. 6TBDTBS
5*AL Wild Card at LAAWed., Oct. 8TBDTBS
* denotes game may not be necessary

Don't let the Athletics' collapse color your judgment of the Los Angeles Angels. They didn't win the AL West by 10 games by pure happenstance.

Mike Trout is the best baseball player on the planet. Albert Pujols returned to something resembling his 2012 self, which is about the best you can hope for from the 34-year-old. Kole Calhoun also delivered some timely offense, posting a 3.7 WAR.

Trading for Huston Street and Jason Grilli brought some stability to the bullpen. Grilli hasn't been lights out, but he's light-years better than what Ernesto Frieri was giving the team. Moving out of Petco Park has exposed some pitchers in the past, but Street's level of performance hasn't dropped one bit since his move from San Diego.

The starting rotation might be bolstered by the return of Matt Shoemaker.

"We’re very encouraged he’ll be ready," manager Mike Scioscia said last week, per Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times. "But you won’t know until he gets on a mound and turns it loose, and that’s still a ways away."

American League Division Series—Baltimore vs. Detroit
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV Info
1DET at BALThurs., Oct. 2TBDTBS
2DET at BALFri., Oct. 3TBDTBS
3BAL at DETSun., Oct. 5TBDTBS
4*BAL at DETMon., Oct. 6TBDTBS
5*DET at BALWed., Oct. 8TBDTBS
* denotes game may not be necessary

Show of hands: How many people had the Baltimore Orioles winning the AL East?

Sure, the New York Yankees never really looked like a playoff contender and the Red Sox were bound to fall back to earth after last year's magical season. But the stars looked to be aligning for the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead, they dealt David Price at the trade deadline and finished fourth in the division.

Also worth noting is that the Orioles won the East despite Chris Davis hitting in the .190s and posting a WAR below 1.0.

TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 27: Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 27, 2014 at Rogers Cent
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

As a team, Baltimore is second in the majors with a .166 ISO and third in slugging (.423). A .297 batting average on balls in play illustrates that the Orioles aren't getting lucky with their hits, either.

The American League looks to be going through either Baltimore or Los Angeles.

Of course, the Detroit Tigers won't be pushovers.

They're loaded offensively. Miguel Cabrera had a down year by his obscene standards, but he remains one of the most dangerous hitters in the postseason. Victor Martinez was six percentage points away from winning the AL batting title. J.D. Martinez's WAR (3.6) is three times higher than his previous best. The Ian Kinsler-Prince Fielder trade also worked out beautifully, with the second baseman posting the second-best WAR among Tigers hitters.

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

You can't forget the starting rotation, which is among the best in the majors. David Price hasn't quite worked out as expected, but a .325 BAPIP and 2.50 FIP illustrate that he's been much better than some have given him credit for.

The only worry about Detroit is that the bullpen will be its ultimate undoing. Tigers relievers have an average FIP of 4.09, which is third-worst in the majors and a 3.96 xFIP, which is fifth-worst.

The Orioles will certainly want to get to the bullpen as early as possible in the ALDS. 

National League Division Series—Washington vs. NL Wild Card
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV Info
1NL Wild Card at WSHFri., Oct. 3TBAFS1
2NL Wild Card at WSHSat., Oct. 4TBAFS1 or MLBN
3WSH at NL Wild CardMon., Oct. 6TBAFS1 or MLBN
4*WSH at NL Wild CardTues., Oct. 7TBAFS1
5*NL Wild Card at WSHThurs., Oct. 9TBAFS1
* denotes game may not be necessary

It feels like decades ago that the Washington Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg in October despite being one of the best teams in baseball and having a legitimate shot of winning the World Series.

In what could be an omen for the Nationals, Jordan Zimmermann threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season. As former player and current ESPN analyst Doug Glanville tweeted out, the Nats' starting rotation is not that fun to face:

After spending a couple of seasons out in the cold, Washington got back into the good graces of the baseball gods. Washington has arguably the most complete team in the league, and with the top seed in the National League, you'd think the Nationals are headed for the Fall Classic.

However, The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell noted that the top seed has been more of a curse than a blessing:

Since the arrival of wild cards in baseball (and a three-tiered playoff system) in 1995, more teams that had the best record in their league have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round (14) than have made it to the World Series (13). The Nats and Washington know all about this since it happened to them in 2012. That wasn’t an anomaly. It was simply the unavoidable cruelty of October baseball.

Since ’95, there have been 38 teams with their league’s best record. What’s it worth? In the first round, quite a bit. The No. 1 seeds have a 24-14 record in division series — a rare lopsided number in baseball. After that, you might as well flip coins to pick a favorite. In league championship series, those “top seeds” have gone 13-11. And when they’ve reached the World Series, they were 7-6.

Without a doubt, the disappointment from 2012 will be a strong motivating factor for the Nats this time around.

National League Division Series—Los Angeles vs. St. Louis
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV Info
1STL at LADFri., Oct. 3TBAFS1
2STL at LADSat., Oct. 4TBAFS1 or MLBN
3LAD at STLMon., Oct. 6TBAFS1 or MLBN
4*LAD at STLTues., Oct. 7TBAFS1
5*STL at LADThurs., Oct. 9TBAFS1
* denotes game may not be necessary

Of the 10 teams involved in the postseason, few are better equipped for a World Series run than the Los Angeles Dodgers. They're third in team batting average (.265) and first in on-base percentage (.332). While L.A.'s power numbers aren't otherworldly, the offense has scored over 700 runs on the year, which puts it in the top 10.

And then there's the pitching staff. Relying on Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia isn't ideal, but the top three starters are good enough in a seven-game series to swing the series in the Dodgers' favor. Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times also reported that Hyun-Jin Ryu is inching closer to a return, which would come in Game 3 of the NLDS.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers walks to the dugout after pitching in the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants on September 14, 2014 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California (Photo by Stephen Lam/
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw had an NLCS to forget last year, which is bad news for opposing hitters in the playoffs. With a chip on his shoulder, the presumptive NL Cy Young Award winner could single-handledly lift the Dodgers up in the postseason.

This is a rematch of last year's NLCS, which the St. Louis Cardinals won 4-2 before falling to the Red Sox in the World Series. The two met seven times this year, with the Dodgers earning a slight 4-3 advantage.

The Cardinals have been mainstays in the postseason over the last decade or so:

By now, everybody knows what to expect out of St. Louis. The team will rely on a stable of arms and try to manufacture enough runs to get by.

The Cardinals scored 619 runs during the regular season, which was in the bottom half of the league. A .117 ISO and .370 slugging percentage also show that the offense was far from dominating this year.

Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn have never been more important to this team. Maybe they can get by if one of those guys struggle in the postseason, but if they both run into problems, the Cards will be out early.

Manager Mike Matheny removed Wainwright from his scheduled start on Sunday, which means he'll be ready for Game 1 of the NLDS, per Bleacher Report's Scott Miller:

That will be a huge plus in the likely event the Dodgers counter with Kershaw.

Below, you can see the schedules and viewing info for the League Championship and World Series. The ALCS begins on Friday, Oct. 10, with the NLCS getting underway a day later. The first pitch for the Fall Classic is on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Championship Series (2-3-2 format)

American League Championship Series
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV Info
1TBD vs. TBDFri., Oct. 10TBATBS
2TBD vs. TBDSat., Oct. 11TBATBS
3TBD vs. TBDMon., Oct. 13TBATBS
4TBD vs. TBDTues., Oct. 14TBATBS
5*TBD vs. TBDWed., Oct. 15TBATBS
6*TBD vs. TBDFri., Oct. 17TBATBS
7*TBD vs. TBDSat., Oct. 18TBATBS
* denotes game may not be necessary
National League Championship Series
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV Info
1TBD vs. TBDSat., Oct. 11TBAFox
2TBD vs. TBDSun., Oct. 12TBAFS1
3TBD vs. TBDTues., Oct. 14TBAFS1
4TBD vs. TBDWed., Oct. 15TBAFS1
5*TBD vs. TBDThurs., Oct. 16TBAFS1
6*TBD vs. TBDSat., Oct. 18TBAFox
7*TBD vs. TBDSun., Oct. 19TBAFS1
* denotes game may not be necessary

World Series (2-3-2 format; American League with home-field advantage)

World Series
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV Info
1NL Champion vs. AL ChampionTues., Oct. 21TBAFox
2NL Champion vs. AL ChampionWed., Oct. 22TBAFox
3AL Champion vs. NL ChampionFri., Oct. 24TBAFox
4AL Champion vs. NL ChampionSat., Oct. 25TBAFox
5*AL Champion vs. NL ChampionSun., Oct. 26TBAFox
6*NL Champion vs. AL ChampionTues., Oct. 28TBAFox
7*NL Champion vs. AL ChampionWed., Oct. 29TBAFox
* denotes game may not be necessary

Note: All stats are current through the final day of the regular season. All stats are courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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