It is officially clinching season across MLB as baseball’s best teams vie to lock up division titles, and wild-card hopefuls look to earn a place in October. As the race to the finish heats up and magic numbers shrink, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about which teams have punched their postseason tickets, who could be popping the champagne next and which races could come down to the very end of the regular season.
For more, including current playoff odds, check out our MLB standings page, and get ready for October with our MLB playoff schedule.
Playoff matchups if the season ended today
Wild-card game: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland A’s
Division series: Wild-card winner vs. Houston Astros; Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees (Astros hold tiebreaker over Yankees if teams finish with same record)
Wild-card game: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals
Division series: Wild-card winner vs. Los Angeles Dodgers; St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves
What happens if two teams tie for the second AL wild-card spot?
If two of the Indians, Rays and A’s finish with the same record for the second wild-card spot (and the other secures the first spot with a better record), the two would play each other in a one-game tiebreaker on Monday to advance to the next day’s AL wild-card game. Home-field advantage would go to the team with the better head-to-head record.
What happens if three teams tie for the two AL wild-card spots?
If the A’s, Indians and Rays all finish with the same record, things get a little more complicated. The three teams would be given A, B and C designations to start the process. Club A would then host Club B, with the winner moving on to the wild-card game. The loser of that game would then travel to Club C for another one-game tiebreaker to decide the other wild-card game participant. The order of choosing A, B and C designations is decided by head-to-head records, so the A’s (9-4 against Rays/Indians) would have first choice followed by the Rays (9-5 against A’s/Indians) and Indians (2-11 vs. A’s/Rays).
What happens if the Brewers and Nationals finish with same record for the two NL wild-card spots?
Unlike the American League scenarios, a tie between Milwaukee and Washington would not result in extra games. The Brewers would host the wild-card game by virtue of their 4-2 season-series victory over the Nats.
All tiebreaker games will be broadcast on ESPN.
Who is already in
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers clinched the season’s first postseason spot on Sept. 10, earning their seventh consecutive NL West title.
Those seven straight division wins rank behind only those of the 1991-2005 Braves and 1998-2006 Yankees for most in the divisional era (since 1969). This time around, the Dodgers tied for the fourth-fewest games needed to clinch a division since 2000 and secured their earliest NL West division crown. The only time in franchise history that they clinched a postseason berth earlier was when they clinched the NL pennant on Sept. 8, 1955.
What’s next? The Dodgers have clinched the NL’s best record and remain in the race with the Yankees and Astros for the best record in baseball — and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Dodgers must-read: Judge Dodgers on seven straight titles, not the World Series crown they’re still chasing
They’d already secured a spot in the postseason, but with their 6-0 win over the Giants on Friday, the Braves clinched their second straight NL East title.
This is Atlanta’s 19th division title, which ties the Yankees for most since the beginning of the divisional era in 1969. It has been 15 years since the Braves, Yankees and Dodgers each won their respective divisions (2004).
What’s next? An NLDS date with the St. Louis Cardinals seems likely now that the Braves are guaranteed to finish with the National League’s second-best record.
Braves must-read: Why return of Markakis could be Braves’ October difference-maker
The Astros clinched their third straight AL West title on Sunday. Houston will be in the postseason for the fourth time in five years and is the sixth team in MLB history to win at least 100 games in three straight seasons. The Astros also are the first team to have three straight 100-win seasons in the same decade in which they had three 100-loss seasons (2011-13).
What’s next? Houston is still trying to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, clinging to a narrow lead over the Yankees and Dodgers for the best record in baseball down the stretch.
Astros must-read: FiveThirtyEight: Zack Greinke is one of a kind
New York Yankees
The Yankees wrapped up their first AL East crown since 2012 and will make their third consecutive postseason appearance.
What’s next? New York remains in an incredibly tight battle with Houston for the best record in the American League and will need to finish with a better mark outright to secure home-field advantage, given that the Astros hold the tiebreaker.
Yankees must-read: Severino dazzles in his 2019 debut
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have clinched their first playoff berth since 2015 and have a magic number of three to win the NL Central.
What’s next? The Cardinals will try to wrap up that division crown as they face the Diamondbacks and Cubs over the final week.
Cardinals must-read: Inside the week St. Louis returned to MLB’s elite
The Nats clinched a wild-card spot with their win Tuesday and the Cubs’ loss, earning their first appearance in the postseason since 2017 and their first playoff appearance on manager Dave Martinez’s watch.
What’s next? The Nats still have to earn home-field advantage in the wild-card game, and with the Brewers closing in, the pressure is not yet off.
Nationals must-read: Five reasons the Nats didn’t need Bryce Harper after all
Who could be next
Minnesota’s magic number to win the AL Central is down to two as the Twins close in on winning their first division title since 2010.
The Brewers are closing in on clinching a wild-card slot, with their magic number down to one after their win Tuesday and the Cubs’ loss in Pittsburgh.
The A’s are just barely in the driver’s seat to host the AL wild-card game, clinging to a half-game lead over the Rays with the Indians a half-game behind Tampa Bay.
Source: Read Full Article