Eye on Playoff Races: Photo finish in AL wild-card race
It's game 162 of the 2013 regular season, and there's still the whole matter of the AL wild-card berths to sort out.
The final day of the regular season is upon us, and the AL wild-card fray is still wonderfully muddled. Will Sunday's slate bring last-minute clarity, or are we headed for tiebreaker scenarios? We'll know soon enough. Now, though, let's see where things stand ...
If the playoffs started today...
Tampa Bay Rays
AL wild-card: Rays/Rangers at Cleveland Indians
ALDS1: Wild-card winner at Boston Red Sox
ALDS2: Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics
NLDS1: Wild-card winner at St. Louis Cardinals
NLDS2: Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves
Current playoff odds, via FanGraphs
Red Sox - IN
A's - IN
Tigers - IN
Indians - 96.0%
Rays - 56.1%
Rangers - 48.0%
Dodgers - IN
Braves - IN
Cardinals - IN
Pirates - IN
Reds - IN
Sunday's big games
Rays at Blue Jays, 1:07pm ET (Preview)
Matt Moore (3.23) vs. Todd Redmond (3.77). Can Moore find his control just in time? Last time out, he walked six in four innings against the Yankees, and on the season he's walked batters in 11.8 percent of plate appearances versus a league average of 7.9 percent. Of note: Evan Longoria has six career home runs in the final game of the regular season.
Phillies at Braves, 1:35pm ET (Preview)
Zach Miner (3.08) vs. Julio Teheran (3.09). The Braves need a win in tandem with a Cardinals loss in order to reclaim top seed in the NL (they hold the tiebreaker over the Cardinals by virtue of head-to-head record) and thus avoid Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in the NLDS round. The Braves are likely to be without catcher Brian McCann (groin strain) in this one.
Indians at Twins, 2:10pm ET (Preview)
Ubaldo Jimenez (3.38) vs. Scott Diamond (5.54). Jimenez has a sparkling 1.86 ERA since the break, and not surprisingly that mark has come in tandem with drastically improved command. He'll be facing a Twins lineup that's of course still without Joe Mauer . Cleveland comes in 12-6 against the Twins this season.
Cubs at Cardinals, 1:05pm ET (Preview)
Jeff Samardzija (4.33) vs. Jake Westbrook (4.67). As noted, if the Cards win, then they'll lock up best overall record in the NL. Westbrook this season has been limited by back and elbow problems. As a consequence of those injuries in tandem with his general ineffectiveness, Westbrook hasn't pitched a quality start since July 24.
Angels at Rangers, 3:05 pm ET (Preview)
Jason Vargas (4.01) vs. Yu Darvish (2.82). The Rangers are at home and have their ace going. On the other hand, Vargas this season has a 2.89 ERA in three starts against Texas, and he's coming off a dominating shutout of the Athletics.
Sunday's possible clinchers
- Cardinals clinch top overall seed in NL with a win OR a Braves loss.
- Braves clinch top overall NL seed with a win AND a Cardinals loss.
- As for the thicket of AL wild-card scenarios, I'll point you to my colleague Mike Axisa's thorough breakdown of all the possibilities in play.
2013 postseason schedule
AL Wild Card Tiebreakers: Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 (if necessary)
NL Wild Card Game: Oct. 1
AL Wild Card Game: Oct. 2
NL Division Series begin: Oct. 3
AL Division Series begin: Oct. 4
NL Championship Series begins: Oct. 11
AL Championship Series begins: Oct. 12
World Series begins: Oct. 23
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