Where did the time go? It seems like yesterday that the Yankees had been swept in their opening series at Tampa Bay and people were calling for Girardi’s head. While many people are still calling for Girardi’s head, three days remain in the regular season. At this time next week, four playoff teams will already be eliminated and four more facing one game deficits in the best-of-five series. On Thursday I’ll give playoff predictions and discuss who I think deserves the individual honors but today it’s all about the playoff races and possible seeds.
If The Playoffs Started Today
In the NL:
The Braves would host the Cardinals in a one game playoff to determine who would host the first two games of a best-of-five series with the Nationals.
The Giants would host the first two games of a best-of-five series with the Reds.
In the AL:
The Yankees and Orioles would play a one game playoff in Baltimore to determine the winner of the AL East. The loser of that playoff game would host the A’s in a one game playoff to determine who would host the Rangers in the first two games of a best-of-five series.
The Tigers would host the first two games of a best-of-five series with the winner of the Yankees-Orioles one game playoff.
In the NL things are almost set as far as who is in the playoffs although the seedings may not be decided until the final day of the season.
The Nats, Reds, Giants and Braves are all in the postseason. The Giants are locked into the three seed. The Braves are locked into the four seed. The Nationals and Reds are locked into the one and two seeds. The Nationals own the tiebreaker for the one seed on the Reds due to winning the season series so even though they currently have the same record, the Nationals actually own a one game lead. The Cardinals own a two game lead on the Dodgers for the wildcard.
There are only three series taking place today through Wednesday that will impact the postseason in the NL. The Cardinals host three games with Cincinnati and that series will help decide who gets the one seed in the NL as well as whether or not the Cards can make the postseason. Although this year’s playoff format actually penalizes the one and two seeds in the best-of-five series by forcing them to play the first two games of that series on the road, the one seed is still important as the format in the NLCS and ALCS has not changed. The one seed would host the first two games of the best-of-seven NLCS and ALCS.
While the Cardinals are in the driver’s seat as far as clinching the last playoff slot, they have the misfortune of having to play a strong team in the Reds who still has something to play for in at least the first two games of the series. The scheduled pitching matchups are Arroyo-Garcia, Latos-Carpenter and Bailey-Wainwright
The only other series taking place this week in the NL that could impact the postseason will take place in Los Angeles as the Dodgers host the Giants are three games behind both the Nationals and Reds and lose the tiebreaker to both teams based on season series losses to both teams, the Giants are locked into the three seed and have absolutely nothing to play for in this series while the Dodgers will issue a call for all hands on deck. The scheduled pitching matchups are Cain-Harang, Zito-Capuano, and Vogelsong-Kershaw.
A win by the Dodgers tonight and a loss by the Cardinals tonight would make the battle for the last seed very interesting.
In the AL? Where do we even begin. At this point, we know that the Rangers, Yankees and Orioles are all in the postseason. The Tigers magic number with the White Sox is down to one, so the Tigers are as good as in.
With only three games left in the regular season, no team in the AL has clinched their division yet and no team has clinched so much as a seed.
In the Central, it appears that the Tigers will wrap up the division and once they do, the Tigers will be locked into the three seed.
In the West , the Angels can do no better than the five seed. In order to force a playoff game for the last wildcard slot the Angels would need to sweep the Mariners and have the Rangers sweep the A’s. The A’s can take the division by sweeping the Rangers. The A’s can lock up a playoff spot with one win against the Rangers. The Rangers can lock up the division with one win against the A’s. The Rangers can get the one seed by finishing with the same record as the Orioles if both of those teams win their divisions based on the Rangers winning the season series with the Orioles. The Rangers can get the one seed if they finish with a better record than the Yankees if the Yankees win their division but lose the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record as the Yankees as the Yankees won the season series.
In the East, the Yankees and Orioles can win the division at the end of the regular season if one finishes with a better record than the other. If they finish in a tie at the end of the regular season, a one game playoff would be held in Baltimore to decide the division as Baltimore won the regular season series with the Yankees. Tampa Bay can force a one game playoff for the 5 seed by sweeping the Orioles and having the Rangers sweep the A’s.
In other words, who the heck knows who will be playing who in the AL playoffs?
Here are the scheduled pitching matchups for the relevant series taking place starting tonight that will affect the AL playoff picture:
Baltimore-Tampa Bay: Chen-Cobb, Gonzalez-Shields, to be named later-Hellickson
Texas-Oakland: Perez-Parker, Harrison-Blackley, Dempster-Griffin
Los Angeles-Seattle: Wilson-Hernandez, Haren-Iwakuma, Weaver-Beavan
Boston-NYY: Bucholz-Sabathia, Lester-Nova, Cook-Kuroda