Eye On Playoff Races: Dodgers, Red Sox on the cusp

Is tonight the night that Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers wrap up the NL West? (USATSI)
Is tonight the night that Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers wrap up the NL West? (USATSI)

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Another day, another slate of games brimming with playoff implications. By night's end we could our first two playoff entrants etched in stone, as the Dodgers and Red Sox can each secure a berth by winning their Thursday games. 

Let's see where things stand. 

If the playoffs started today...

AL wild-card: Rangers at Rays
ALDS1: AL wild-card winner at Red Sox
ALDS2: Tigers at Athletics

NL wild-card: Reds at Pirates
NLDS1: NL wild-card winner at Braves
NLDS2: Dodgers at Cardinals

Current playoff odds, via FanGraphs

Red Sox - 100%
Tigers - 100%
Athletics - 99.9% 
Rays - 76.1%
Rangers - 55.8%
Indians - 45.7%
Orioles - 13.4%
Yankees - 5.0%
Royals - 3.9%

Braves - 100%
Cardinals - 100%
Dodgers - 100%
Pirates - 99.6%
Reds - 99.2%
Nationals - 1.3%

Thursday's big matchups

Padres at Pirates, 12:35 pm ET (Preview)
Ian Kennedy (4.85) vs. Gerrit Cole (3.33). The Pirates haven't suffered a four-game home sweep at the hands of the Padres since 1996, but that could happen again on Thursday, at the most inconvenient of times. The Buccos have scored just four runs over the first three games of the series, so it's on the Pittsburgh bats to wake up. 

Cardinals at Rockies, 3:10 pm ET (Preview
Michael Wacha (2.81) vs. Roy Oswalt (7.71). Since being restored to the rotation at the start of the month, Wacha has notched a 1.00 ERA and has thrown strikes 61 percent of the time. As for the 36-year-old Oswalt, he's pitched better than that grisly ERA would lead you to believe, as he's recorded 30 strikeouts against five walks, all unintentional, in 25 2/3 innings. He's also given up just two home runs over that span. 

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 3:40 pm ET (Preview)
Ricky Nolasco (3.36) vs. Wade Miley (3.70). Worth noting: The Dodgers are a middling 32-34 against NL West rivals this season, including an 8-10 mark against the D-backs. Nolasco has been dominant against Arizona this season, but he's coming off a ritual pounding at the hands of the Giants. 

Astros at Indians, 7:05 pm ET (Preview
Dallas Keuchel (5.17) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (3.49). So begins the Tribe's season-ending stretch in which they have no excuse for not tending to business. This game kicks off a four-game home set against those lowly Astros, which is followed by a pair of home games against the White Sox, which is followed by four on the road against the Twins. You couldn't design a more accommodating end to the season, from the Cleveland perspective. Worth noting: The Indians are 26-9 against these three teams in 2013.  

Yankees at Blue Jays, 7:07 pm ET (Preview)
Hiroki Kuroda (3.13) vs. Todd Redmond (4.10). They're pretty much all must-wins for the Yankees right now, who trail three teams for the final AL wild-card berth. Of concern: Kuroda has a 6.69 ERA over his last six starts.    

Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 pm ET (Preview)
Chris Tillman (3.70) vs. John Lackey (3.56). The O's are on the verge of handing Boston its first home sweep of the season. Tillman's been much more effective on the road than at home this season, while Lackey has allowed 11 earned over his last 12 innings of work. It doesn't get any less critical for Baltimore, who will next head to St. Pete for a huge four-game set against the Rays.   

Rangers at Rays, 7:10 pm ET (Preview)
Yu Darvish (2.79) vs. Matt Moore (3.11). Game of the night and pitching match-up of the night. Darvish has put aside those late August/early September concerns, as he's looked his usual dominant self over his last two outings. As for Moore, his last start was cut short after 60 pitches and three innings because of a rain delay, so he should be fresh. He's allowed only one earned run since returning from the DL.  

Wednesday's possible clinchers

- The Dodgers will clinch the NL West title with a win over the Diamondbacks.
- The Red Sox will clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Orioles.

2013 postseason schedule

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

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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