There are 5 games left in the MLB season. Who will still be playing once we change the calendar?
Major League baseball is getting down to the wire with the regular season wrapping up this weekend. Last night the Pirates became the latest team to clinch a playoff berth, guaranteeing themselves at least a wildcard spot with a 2-1win over the Cubs in Chicago that came on a ninth inning tiebreaking homerun by Starling Marte and ended with Andrew McCutchen throwing out Nate Schierholtz at the plate. This marks the Pirates first playoff berth since 1992. The Pirates join the Red Sox, A’s, Braves, Dodgers, and most interestingly 2 other NL central teams on the list of squads definitely playing in October.
So looking at the NL, the East and West races are already done; the Braves dominated a weak NL East and in the West the Dodgers have an 11 game lead in an equally poor division as the second place Diamondbacks are only 2 games over .500. The central division crown remains up for grabs as the Cards, Pirates and Reds have clinched wildcard berths but all have a chance at the top spot and avoiding the wildcard play in game. Nowadays the 2 wildcard teams play each other in a one game playoff for the right to play a whole postseason series. Besides the Pirates, the Reds clinched a trip to the postseason with a win over the Mets last night, and the currently leading Cardinals clinched a few days ago.
At this point St. Louis has the 2 game edge and a favorable schedule putting them in the driver’s seat. They have 2 games left against the Nationals and then close the season at home against the Cubs who have 65 wins. The Reds and Pirates actually close out the season against each other, so one would likely have to sweep for either to beat out the Cards for the central title. If the season ended today the wild card winner would face the Braves, and the Dodgers and Cards would square off in the other divisional series. There are 5 more games left so the Reds and Pirates are not out of it yet.
In the American League, Boston and Oakland have clinched the east and west respectively and Detroit has a 4.5 game lead in the Central with 5 to play, so it’s pretty much safe to say the division winners are set. The wild card is a different story. As of now Tampa Bay holds the top spot ahead of the Indians in second. Texas, who had been battling Oakland in the west until they killed their season by losing 17 of 22 over the past month or so, somehow only trail Cleveland by a game. The Royals are 3 games back and the Yankees are 4. The Yanks have a .1% chance of winning a wild card but they have 2 games left against the Rays giving them a chance to ruin the division rival Rays season. It seems to be shaping up that the divisional series will be the Tigers at the A’s and the Red Sox will host the wild card winner.
The regular season wraps up on Sunday and the playoffs start Tuesday October 1st with the NL wild card game; the AL wildcard game is on Wednesday. The divisional series start next Thursday.
I know the New York teams are all but done but the Yankees at least hung around to the end and the NL Central race has been one of the better ones in recent memory. The playoffs should be great with no clear dominant teams.
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