After 159 games, Major League Baseball is down to their final weekend, the final series, and the final three games for every team.
We already know five of the six division champs and eight of the 10 playoff teams. But there is plenty left to play for.
First up is the National League where things are nearly wrapped up (playoff spot if season ended today is in parentheses):
- Atlanta Braves (1-seed) — The Braves won the NL East. They are also tied with the Cardinals for the best record in the NL. However, the Braves hold the tie-breaker over the Cardinals. So as long the Braves win as many games (or more) against the Phillies this weekend as the Cardinals win against the Cubs, the Braves will be the top seed and face the Wild Card winner.
- St. Louis Cardinals (2-seed) — The Cardinals magic number is one to win the NL Central. The Cardinals can also be the top seed if they win more games this weekend than the Braves.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (3-seed) — The Dodgers won the NL West and will almost certainly be the 3-seed in the NL. If by chance the Dodgers sweep the Rockies and the Cardinals are swept by the Cubs, the two teams would finish with identical records and the Dodgers would hold the tie-breaker. That would give the Dodgers the 2-seed and home-field advantage against the Cardinals in their series.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (1st Wild Card) — The Pirates have a 1-game lead over the Reds and play the Reds this weekend in Cincinnati to determine who would host the Wild Card game on Tuesday. If the Pirates win two (or three) against the Reds, the Wild Card game will be in Pittsburgh. The Pirates still have an outside shot at winning their division, but they would have to win four straight games (including a play-in game on Monday against the Cardinals) and the Cardinals would have to lose four straight.
- Cincinnati Reds (2nd Wild Card) — If the Reds win two games this weekend against the Pirates they would hold the tie-breaker over the Pirates and the Wild Card game would be in Cincinnati.
Now let’s look at the American League:
- Boston Red Sox (1-seed) — The Red Sox won the AL East and will almost certainly be the top seed and host the Wild Card winner. However, the Sox could fall as far as the 3-seed if they are swept by the Orioles. The A’s are two games behind the Red Sox and hold the tie-breaker over Boston (better divisional record). The Tigers are three games behind Boston and also hold the tie-breaker against the Sox (head-to-head record).
- Oakland A’s (2-seed) — Oakland won the AL West. The A’s play the Mariners this weekend and if Oakland can win at least two more games than the Red Sox, the A’s will be the top seed and host the Wild Card winner. The A’s also have a one-game lead over the Tigers for the 2-seed and home-field advantage in their playoff series. The A’s hold the tie-breaker if those two teams finish tied.
- Detroit Tigers (3-seed) — The Tigers are playing the Marlins in Miami this weekend and if Detroit can win two or three more games than the A’s, the Tigers would move up to the 2-seed and host the ALDS series against the A’s. The Tigers have an outside shot at being the top seed, but they would need to sweep the Marlins, have the Red Sox be swept by the Orioles and the A’s would have to lose at least two games to the Mariners.
- Tampa Bay Rays (1st Wild Card) — There are three teams still competing for the two Wild Card spots in the AL. The Rays have a 1-game lead over the Indians and a 2-game lead over the Rangers and need just one win against the Blue Jays or one Rangers loss to the Angels to clinch at least a play-in game on Monday. If the Rays get any combination of two wins and/or Rangers losses, they will clinch one of the Wild Card spots. If the Rays are one of the Wild Card teams they would play the Wild Card game at home if the opponent is Cleveland. The game would be in Texas if the Rangers are the opponent.
- Cleveland Indians (2nd Wild Card) — The Indians magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three. Cleveland plays the Twins and if they win at least one more game this weekend than the Rays, the Indians will host the Wild Card game on Wednesday. However, the Indians are only one game ahead of the Rangers. If the Indians and Rangers finish tied for the second Wild Card spot, the two teams would play a play-in game on Monday in Cleveland.
- Texas Rangers (eliminated) — The Rangers are on the outside looking in at this point. Texas does hold a tie-breaker over the Rays but the Indians have the tie-breaker over the Rangers. But before that comes into play, the Rangers have to win more games against the Angels than the Indians win against the Twins.
Pretty simple, right?
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