MLB Final Weekend: Playoff Picture Filled with Possibilities

Milwaukee Brewers' Lorenzo Cain is congratulated by Christian Yelich after catching a ball at the wall hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Jose Martinez during the ninth inning of an Opening Day baseball game Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Milwaukee. The Brewers won 5-4. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Milwaukee (OnFocus) – In the final weekend of baseball’s regular season, the playoff picture  is loaded with possibilities. Courtesy of mlb.com, here is the scoop on what to expect.

While a lot can happen in the standings between now and when the postseason starts on Tuesday, here is a look at what we know:

Reminder: Major League Baseball announced an expanded postseason format in 2020, which will include eight teams in each league. The top two teams in each division qualify, and the two teams with the next-best records in each league make it as Wild Cards. All ties will be resolved mathematically, without tiebreaker games. For full details on the 2020 postseason format, read here.

Wild Card Series (begin Tuesday)
Best-of-three format, with higher seed serving as the home team for all three games

AL matchups
No. 8 Blue Jays vs. No. 1 Rays
No. 7 Indians vs. No. 2 Twins
No. 6 Astros vs. No. 3 A’s
No. 5 Yankees vs. No. 4 White Sox

NL matchups
No. 8 Giants vs. No. 1 Dodgers
No. 7 Reds vs. No. 2 Braves
No. 6 Marlins vs. No. 3 Cubs
No. 5 Cardinals vs. No. 4 Padres

• 2020 Postseason schedule

WHO HAS CLINCHED: The A’s became the first team to clinch a division title on Monday, followed by the Braves and Dodgers on Tuesday, and the Rays on Wednesday. Other teams to lock up postseason berths include the Blue Jays, White Sox, Twins, Yankees, Padres, Indians and Cubs.

WHO IS NEXT: The Astros can clinch a postseason berth with a win over the Rangers or a loss by the Angels at the Dodgers this weekend.

Here is a look at where each remaining contender — defined as either having clinched a playoff spot or is still alive — stands heading into today. Teams are listed by division and then in order of standing.

HOW DO TIEBREAKERS WORK: Tiebreakers are different in 2020 than in previous seasons. For details on this year’s rules, read this. And for the latest on where each team currently stands, read the Key Tiebreakers sections below.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Rays (37-20, .649)
Yesterday’s result: Off
Where they stand: The Rays have clinched the AL East title and home field in the Wild Card Series.
Magic number: Clinched AL East title
Key tiebreakers: Tampa Bay holds a tiebreaker over the Twins, White Sox and A’s, all vying for the league’s No. 1 seed, by virtue of a better intradivision record.
Today’s schedule: vs. Phillies, 6:40 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 vs. PHI

Yankees (32-25, .561)
Yesterday’s result: Lost 4-1 vs. Blue Jays
Where they stand: The Yankees are two games ahead of the Blue Jays for the division’s No. 2 playoff berth and hold the AL’s fifth seed, two games behind the fourth-seeded White Sox.
Magic number: Clinched postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: The Yankees and Blue Jays split the season series, 5-5. The Yankees currently hold the tiebreaker with a better record vs. the AL East (23-17 to Toronto’s 20-17, though the Blue Jays have three games vs. Orioles remaining). The White Sox currently hold the tiebreaker over the Yankees with a better intradivision record (25-14 to 23-16).
Today’s schedule: vs. Marlins, 7:05 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 vs. MIA

Blue Jays (30-27, .526)
Yesterday’s result: Won 4-1 vs. Yankees
Where they stand: The Blue Jays are two games behind the Yankees for the division’s No. 2 playoff berth. They currently hold the No. 8 seed in the AL.
Magic number: Clinched postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: The Yankees and Blue Jays split the season series, 5-5. The Yankees currently hold the tiebreaker with a better record vs. the AL East (23-17 to Toronto’s 20-17, though the Blue Jays have three games vs. Orioles remaining).
Today’s schedule: vs. Orioles, 6:37 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 vs. BAL

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Twins (35-22, .614)
Yesterday’s result: Off
Where they stand: The Twins lead the White Sox by one game for first place in the AL Central. They are two games behind the Rays for the AL’s No. 1 seed.
Magic number: Clinched postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: If the Twins tie with the Indians, the Twins win the tiebreaker, thanks to their 7-3 head-to-head record. But if they tie with the White Sox, the White Sox hold the tiebreaker — the Twins split their season series against Chicago, but the Sox have a better intradivision record. If there’s a three-way tie for the division, the teams would finish in this order: Twins, Indians, White Sox. The Twins have that three-way tiebreaker clinched because they have the best record in head-to-head matchups among all three teams (12-8 against Chicago and Cleveland). For the AL in general, the Rays currently hold the tiebreaker over the Twins with a better intradivision record (27-13 to Minnesota’s 23-17).
Today’s schedule: vs. Reds, 8:10 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 vs. CIN

White Sox (34-23, .596)
Yesterday’s result: Lost 5-4 vs. Indians
Where they stand: The second-place White Sox trail the Twins by a one game in the division and lead the Indians by one game. Chicago trails the Rays by three games for the top seed in the AL.
Magic number: Clinched postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: The White Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Twins — they split their season series, 5-5, but Chicago has the better intradivision record (25-15 vs. AL Central, while Minnesota is 23-17). But if the Sox tie with the Indians, Cleveland holds the tiebreaker (8-2 head-to-head against Chicago). If there’s a three-way tie for the division, the teams would finish in this order: Twins, Indians, White Sox. That’s locked in, based on record in head-to-head matchups among all three teams (the Twins are 12-8 against Chicago and Cleveland, the Indians are 10-10 against Minnesota and Chicago, and the White Sox are 7-13 against Minnesota and Cleveland. In the AL overall, the Rays hold a slight edge for the tiebreaker over the White Sox — Tampa Bay’s intradivision record is 27-13.
Today’s schedule: vs. CHC, 8:10 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 vs. CHC

Indians (33-24, .579)
Yesterday’s result: Won 5-4 vs. White Sox
Where they stand: The Indians are in third place in the AL Central, two games behind the Twins and one game behind the White Sox. They currently hold the seventh seed in the AL.
Magic number: Clinched postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: Cleveland went 8-2 vs. the White Sox, giving the Tribe the tiebreaker. However, the Indians went 3-7 vs. the Twins, so Minnesota owns that tiebreaker. If there’s a three-way tie for the division, the teams would finish in this order: Twins, Indians, White Sox (because the Twins are 12-8 against Chicago and Cleveland, the Indians are 10-10 against Minnesota and Chicago, and the White Sox are 7-13 against Minnesota and Cleveland).
Today’s schedule: vs. Pirates, 7:10 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 vs. PIT

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

Athletics (34-22, .607)
Yesterday’s result: Lost 5-1 vs. Dodgers
Where they stand: The A’s have clinched the AL West and are a half-game behind the Twins for the second seed in the AL. Oakland is 2 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the top AL seed.
Key tiebreakers: The Rays (27-13) currently hold a tiebreaker over the A’s (24-12) with a better intradivision record, while Oakland holds that same advantage over the Twins (23-17).
Today’s schedule: vs. Mariners, 9:40 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 4 vs. SEA

Astros (29-28, .509)
Yesterday’s result: Won 12-4 vs. Rangers
Where they stand: The Astros are three games ahead of the Angels for the second guaranteed playoff spot from the AL West.
Magic number: 1 for postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: The Angels own the tiebreaker over the Astros after winning the season series, 6-4. Houston already clinched a tiebreaker over Seattle by winning the season series, 7-3. If the Astros, Angels and Mariners finish in a three-way tie, the Angels would win the tiebreaker. In head-to-head matchups among all three teams, the Angels and Astros both went 11-9, while the Mariners went 8-12; but the Angels would be in thanks to winning the season series against Houston.
Today’s schedule: at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 at TEX

Angels (26-31, .456)
Yesterday’s result: Off
Where they stand: The Angels are three games behind the Astros for the AL West’s second playoff spot.
Key tiebreakers: Los Angeles owns the tiebreaker over Houston after winning the season series, 6-4. The Angels would also win the tiebreaker in case of a three-way tie with the Astros and Mariners. The Angels and Astros both finished 11-9 in head-to-head matchups among all three teams (the Mariners went 8-12), but the Angels would get in thanks to winning their season series against Houston.
Today’s schedule: at Dodgers, 9:40 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 at LAD

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves (34-23, .596)
Yesterday’s result: Lost 4-2 vs. Marlins
Where they stand: The Braves have clinched the NL East and hold the NL’s No. 2 playoff seed by two games over the Cubs.
Key tiebreakers: The Braves own the tiebreaker edge over the Cubs, faring two games better against the NL East (24-16) than Chicago has against the NL Central (22-18).
Today’s schedule: vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 vs. BOS

Marlins (29-28, .509)
Yesterday’s result: Won 4-2 vs. Braves
Where they stand: The Marlins are one game ahead of the Phillies for the division’s second guaranteed playoff spot.
Magic number: 3 for postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: The Marlins hold the tiebreaker over the Phillies after winning the season series, 7-3.
Today’s schedule: at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 at NYY

Phillies (28-29, .491)
Yesterday’s result: Off
Where they stand: The Phillies are a one game behind the Marlins for the division’s second guaranteed playoff spot. Philadelphia is also a half-game behind the Giants for the NL’s No. 8 postseason seed.
Key tiebreakers: The Marlins hold the tiebreaker over the Phillies after winning the season series, 7-3. Philadelphia owns an identical intradivision record as the Reds (No. 7 seed) at 21-19, and a better intradivision record than the No. 8 seed Giants (17-19).
Today’s schedule: at Rays, 6:40 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 at TB

Mets (26-31, .456)
Yesterday’s result: Won 3-2 vs. Nationals
Where they stand: The Mets are 2 1/2 games behind the Giants for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Key tiebreakers: The Giants (17-19) own the slightest of edges for the tiebreaker over the Mets (17-20) with a better intradivision record.
Today’s schedule: at Nationals, 6:05 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 at WSH

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Cubs (32-25, .561)
Yesterday’s result: Lost 7-0 vs. Pirates
Where they stand: The Cubs have clinched a postseason berth and lead the NL Central by 2 1/2 games over the Cardinals and three games over the Reds. They hold the NL’s No. 3 seed, two games back of the Braves for the No. 2 seed.
Magic number: 3 for NL Central division title
Key tiebreakers: The Cubs hold the tiebreaker over the Cardinals with a better intradivision record after splitting the clubs’ season series, 5-5. The Braves own the tiebreaker edge over the Cubs, faring two games better against the NL East (24-16) than Chicago has against the NL Central (22-18).
Today’s schedule: at White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 at CWS

Cardinals (28-26, .519)
Yesterday’s result: Won 4-2 vs. Brewers
Where they stand: The Cardinals trail the Cubs by 2 1/2 games in the NL Central, with St. Louis currently holding the No. 5 seed in the NL. The Cards are a half-game game ahead of the Reds for the division’s second guaranteed playoff spot. One thing to keep in mind: Because of the extensive postponements the Cardinals had in August due to COVID-19, they are currently scheduled for 58 games. If either of those two additional postponed games, both against Detroit, end up needing to be made up to settle home-field advantage or who is in or out, they would be played on Monday. They will not be made up if the only thing left to settle is seeding that has no impact on home-field.
Magic number: 4 for postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: The Cubs and Cardinals split their season series but Chicago holds the tiebreaker edge by having a better record against the NL Central. The Cardinals won their season series against the Reds, 6-4, but are currently tied with the Brewers in their season series, 3-3, with four matchups still remaining against Milwaukee.
Today’s schedule: vs. MIL, 5:15 p.m. ET followed by Game 2 of doubleheader
What’s ahead: 4 vs. MIL

Reds (29-28, .509)
Yesterday’s result: Off
Where they stand: The Reds are a half-game behind the Cardinals for the NL Central’s second guaranteed playoff spot, but the tiebreaker goes to St. Louis. Cincinnati currently occupies the No. 7 seed in the NL, percentage points ahead of the Giants.
Magic number: 3 for postseason berth
Key tiebreakers: St. Louis holds the tiebreaker with Cincinnati after winning the season series, 6-4. And the Reds hold the tiebreaker over the Brewers, winning that season series 6-4. The Reds also hold the tiebreaker over the Giants with a better intradivision record.
Today’s schedule: at Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 at MIN

Brewers (27-29, .482)
Yesterday’s result: Lost 4-2 vs. Cardinals
Where they stand: The Brewers are two games behind the Cardinals and 1 1/2 games behind Reds for the division’s second guaranteed playoff spot, and one game behind the Giants for the eighth and final NL postseason spot.
Key tiebreakers: Milwaukee is tied, 3-3, in the season series with St. Louis with four remaining head-to-head matchups in which to decide a tiebreaker. The Reds won the season series over the Brewers, 6-4. Milwaukee owns the same intradivision record (17-19) as the Giants, and if they were to end up tied for the eighth spot in the NL, the team with the better record over its final 20 intradivision games would win the tiebreaker.
Today’s schedule: at Cardinals, 5:15 p.m. ET followed by Game 2 of doubleheader
What’s ahead: 4 at STL

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

Dodgers (40-17, .702)
Yesterday’s result: Won 5-1 vs. A’s
Where they stand: The Dodgers have clinched both the NL West title and the NL’s No. 1 overall seed.
Today’s schedule: vs. Angels, 9:40 p.m. ET
What’s ahead: 3 vs. LAA

Padres (34-22, .607)
Yesterday’s result: Off
Where they stand: The Padres have clinched a postseason berth and currently own the NL’s No. 4 playoff seed.
Today’s schedule: at Giants, 7:10 p.m. ET followed by Game 2 of doubleheader
What’s ahead: 4 at SF

Giants (28-28, .500)
Yesterday’s result: Lost 5-4 (11 innings) vs. Rockies
Where they stand: The Giants currently hold the No. 8 seed in the NL, a half-game behind the Reds.
Key tiebreakers: Cincinnati holds the tiebreaker over San Francisco with a better intradivision record.
Today’s schedule: vs. Padres, 7:10 p.m. ET followed by Game 2 of doubleheader
What’s ahead: 4 vs. SD

Rockies (25-31, .446)
Yesterday’s result: Won 5-4 (11 innings) vs. Giants
Where they stand: The Rockies trail the Giants by three games for the eighth and final NL playoff berth but also have the Phillies, Brewers and Mets sitting ahead of them in the Wild Card standings.
Key tiebreakers: The Giants hold the slightest of edges for the tiebreaker over the Rockies by way of a better intradivision record (17-19 to Colorado’s 16-20)
Today’s schedule: at D-backs, 6:40 p.m. ET followed by Game 2 of doubleheader
What’s ahead: 4 at ARI

David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]