As the calendar prepares to change from September to October, so does the MLB season from regular season to post-season. Some teams have clinched playoff berths & have their seeds locked. Others are still in the playoff picture, but this weekend can be a game-changing one for any of them. Let’s take a look at both leagues and see every scenario that could happen.
In the National League, we know that the (NL East Champion) Atlanta Braves will have home field advantage throughout the post-season, including the World Series…if they make it. They & the (NL West Champion) Los Angeles Dodgers will be resting for the NL Divisional Series. The (NL Central Champion) Milwaukee Brewers will host 1 of the 2 NL Wild Card Series. The (reigning NL Champion) Philadelphia Phillies will host the other NL Wild Card Series. As for the final 2 wild cards in the National League, there are 4 teams with a possibility to earn them, but we won’t know, until Monday afternoon, since the Miami Marlins might have a game to conclude.
Currently, the Arizona Diamondbacks have the 2nd wild card position. However, what could cause them to slide is that they have lost season series against the Marlins (4-2) & Cincinnati Reds (4-3). The Diamondbacks need 1 win guarantee that they’ll play baseball on Tuesday. To play the Phillies, 1 of 2 scenarios must happen. They win both games & the Marlins lose once. They lose both games, the Marlins lose out, the Chicago Cubs win both games, & the Reds lose once.
To play the Brewers, any of the following scenarios would have to happen. They & the Marlins win out. They lose once & the Marlins win out. They & the Marlins lose out, the Reds win out, and the Cubs lose once. For the Diamondbacks to be eliminated, they have to lose out and the Marlins & the Reds have to win out.
The Marlins have the 3rd wild card position, as of right now. Like the Diamondbacks, they need 1 win to guarantee themselves some post-season baseball. Right now, they’d look good. They have defeated the Diamondbacks & Cubs in season series (Marlins defeated both teams, 4-2). They split with the Reds (3-3), but have the tie-breaker, due to having a better “intradivisional record” (Marlins were 26-25 against the East; Reds were 21-29 against the Central).
To play the Phillies, the Marlins have 3 scenarios. They & the Diamondbacks win out. They win twice & the Diamondbacks lose once. They win once & the Diamondbacks lose out. To play the Brewers, they Diamondbacks must win out & the Marlins must lose out. Despite the odds looking good for them, the Marlins could be eliminated. For that to happen, the Marlins have to lose out and the Cubs and/or Reds must win out.
The Cubs & the Reds (who won their season series against the Cubs, 7-6) are on the outside looking in. However, they still have a chance to see baseball past the weekend. The only way the Cubs will gain a berth is to win both games and they’ll need the Marlins to lose out & the Reds to lose once. If that happens, then the Cubs will ironically stay in Milwaukee & play another series against the Brewers. As for the Reds, they have a few more options, but all of them involve Cincinnati winning both of their games.
To play the Phillies, they need the Diamondbacks & Marlins to lose out. To play the Brewers, they have 2 scenarios. The Marlins win once & Diamondbacks lose out. The Diamondbacks win once & Marlins lose out. Of course, a loss eliminates the Cubs and/or Reds. If you think the National League picture was complicated, wait until you see the American League picture.
In the American League, we know that the (AL East Champion) Baltimore Orioles will have home field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. They & whoever wins the AL West will rest for the AL Divisional Series. The (AL Central Champion) Minnesota Twins will host 1 of the AL Wild Card Series. The Tampa Bay Rays will host the other AL Wild Card Series. What’s left to determine is an AL West Champion between the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, & (defending World Series Champion) Houston Astros. Also, those 3 teams & the Toronto Blue Jays are eligible for the last 2 wild card spots.
The Rangers have an 1-game lead over the Astros. To win the division, they have a couple of scenarions. Win both games. Win once & the Astros lose once. The Astros have an 1-game lead over the Mariners. For them to win the AL West, they need to win both games & have the Astros lose once. The Mariners can become AL West Champion, if they finish their sweep of the Rangers, then have the Astros lose once. While these scenarios seem great, there are also possibilities for these teams to either be a wild card team or be eliminated.
Before we get into that picture, let’s look at all of the season series involving each team. The Rangers were 6-1 against the Blue Jays & are 8-3 against the Mariners. The Astros were 9-4 against the Rangers. The Blue Jays were 4-3 against the Astros. The Mariners were 9-4 against the Astros & split with the Blue Jays (3-3), but have a better “intradvisional record” (Mariners 32-18 against the West; Blue Jays are 21-29 in the East).
To play the Rays, the Blue Jays have a few chances to set up a rematch in Tampa. Win both games is the most direct way. They can also win once have the Astros & Mariners lose a game. To play the Twins, the Jays have a couple of scenarios. They & Rangers win once and Astros win out. They lose out and Rangers & Astros win out. The Blue Jays can be eliminated in a couple of ways. They & the Rangers lose out and Astros lose once. They & the Rangers lose and Astros win out.
If the Rangers don’t win the West, they have a couple of ways to play the Rays. They & Blue Jays win once and Astros win out. They & Blue Jays lose out and Astros win out. To play the Twins, they & Blue Jays have to lose out and Astros must lose once. Elimination for the Rangers occurs if they lose out, Blue Jays win out, & Astros lose once.
If the Astros don’t win the West, they have a couple of scenarios where they could play the Rays. They & the Rangers win out and the Blue Jays lose out. They lose once and Rangers & Blue Jays lose out. To play the Twins, there are a couple of scenarios, as well. Astros, Rangers, & Blue Jays win out. Astros lose once and Mariners & Blue Jays win out. There are 2 ways for the champions to be eliminated. Lose out & Mariners win once. Lose once & Mariners win out.
If the Mariners don’t win the West, then they would only be looking at a showdown with the Twins & there would be 2 scenarios to make it happen. They would need to win out & have the Astros lose out. They & the Astros win out and the Blue Jays lose out. To be eliminated, they have to lose out or the Rangers, Blue Jays, & Astros have to win once.
Okay, did you get all of that? Well, that’s the crazy road to the post-season. Sit back and enjoy your last weekend of regular season baseball. If your team is still eligible for the playoffs, then I hope to see you in October.