Major League Baseball's regular season is entering its final days. Barring an unforeseen development, the season will come to a close on Wednesday night. Everyone will then have Thursday off before the wild-card round begins Friday. MLB did away with tiebreaker games this season as part of the introduction of the expanded postseason, meaning there is no possibility for a Game 163 situation.
There may be only three days to go before most of the league enters the offseason, but there's plenty of unfinished business left to settle across the majors. Below, CBS Sports has highlighted five aspects that need resolving before the playoffs begin.
1. National League East winner
The two sides entered Sunday night's contest tied in the season series at 9-9. With the win, the Braves took control of the tiebreaker. In other words, the Mets can win the division only if they finish with the better outright record. The Braves, for their part, will clinch the division with another win or a Mets loss, whichever comes first.
In addition to being able to hang a division champion banner, the winner will earn a first-round bye as a result of having the second-best record in the NL. The loser, conversely, will have to settle for hosting a Wild Card Series this weekend.
2. Final NL wild-card spot
The Phillies' magic number, then, is down to just one -- either a win on their part, or a loss by the Brewers. Put another way, the Brewers would need to win out and have the Phillies lose out in order to make it to October.
3. Home-field advantage
We know the Los Angeles Dodgers will have home-field advantage in every postseason series they play in, and we know the Astros will have the same through the League Championship Series. We also know the New York Yankees and the winner of the NL East race will be the No. 2 seeds, and will host their Division Series. Otherwise?
In the AL, the Cleveland Guardians will host their Wild Card Series, likely against the Tampa Bay Rays. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays lead the Seattle Mariners by 2 1/2 games in the race for hosting duties of the other Wild Card Series. (The Mariners have four games remaining, all against the Detroit Tigers.)
Over in the NL, the loser of the East race will host their Wild Card Series, but it's to be seen which team heads there versus which heads to St. Louis to face the Cardinals. The San Diego Padres hold a one-game lead over the Phillies. The Padres will round out their schedule against the San Francisco Giants; the Phillies (who hold the tiebreaker against the Padres) will play the Astros.
4. Judge's historic pursuits
Did you think we'd forget about Aaron Judge? No chance. The New York Yankees outfielder is having one of the best offensive seasons of all time, entering Monday with a .311/.427/.689 slash line and 61 home runs in 685 trips to the plate.
Judge has four games remaining against the Texas Rangers (the two sides will play a doubleheader on Tuesday) to potentially accomplish two historic feats: A) surpass Roger Maris for the most home runs hit in a single season in both American League and Yankees franchise history; and B) become the second player since 1968 to win the AL Triple Crown. (Miguel Cabrera most recently did it in 2012.)
The first part is straightforward. Judge needs just one home run to surpass Maris' 61-year-old record of 61. He's already tied him, and it stands to reason that he has at least one home run left in his bat.
The second is a little trickier. Judge is the easy leader in home runs (by 22) and runs batted in (by eight), but he's trailing Minnesota Twins infielder Luis Arráez in batting average by four points: .311 versus .315. Judge hasn't put a ball into play since Friday, further complicating his attempt at closing the gap. The good news is that he can help his case in both respects by, you know, launching another home run or three.
5. Draft lottery positioning
After all this talk about the postseason, let's not forget the other side of the spectrum. MLB is slated to host its first ever draft lottery this winter, and there's some shuffling that could occur between now and Wednesday that would alter the odds.
The most important "race" concerns the No. 3 spot. The Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics are secure as the worst and second-worst clubs. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds are tied for the third spot, however, with each having lost 99 games. The draft's tiebreaker has historically included the previous year's record, a measure that would see the Pirates get the superior slot based on their poor 2021.
The difference between having the third- and fourth-worst record would seem trivial, but the three worst teams all have a 16.5 percent shot at the No. 1 pick; the fourth-worst team has a 13.2 percent shot. Maybe that's a trivial difference that won't end up mattering, but when you're a bad team, you take all the help you can find.
The Pirates will wrap up their year against the Cardinals. The Reds will play the Cubs. On paper, that would seem to favor the Pirates securing the third-worst record.