MLB standings, playoff picture update: Yankees face Red Sox as AL wild card race heats up

The 2018 MLB regular season ends Sunday, Sept. 30, meaning the postseason is now roughly two weeks away. However, there are still plenty of postseason races that have to be decided between now and then.

With that in mind, here is an update on the current American League postseason picture. Here's the SportsLine Projection System and here's what the AL postseason field would look like if the season ended today (Click here for the National League playoff picture): 

mlb-playoff-bracket-2018.jpg
Mike Meredith/CBS Sports

Be sure to check out SportsLine's daily pick sheet for insight about every game.

AL East leader: Red Sox (103-47)

  • Games remaining: 12 (6 Home, 6 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .555
  • SportsLine's AL pennant odds: 32 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 18.7 percent

The Sox have all but locked up the top seed throughout the postseason, and they could clinch that honor by mid-week. At this writing, their magic number in the AL East is a mere two, so they're very close to clinching the division title for a third straight year. Right now the focus is on keeping core contributors like Chris Sale and Mookie Betts healthy and fresh in anticipation of a deep playoff run. At the moment, SportsLine projects the Sox to finish with 110 wins. 

AL Central champion: Indians (83-66)

  • Games remaining: 13 (6 Home, 7 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .457
  • SportsLine's AL pennant odds: 22.9 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 11.4 percent

The Indians have already clinched the otherwise lowly AL Central, and they have no shot at improving their playoff seed, which means they're all but locked in against the champion Astros in the ALDS. Even in the unlikely event that the Indians and Astros wound up with the same record, the Astros hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their winning the regular-season series. 

AL West leader: Astros (94-55)

  • Games remaining: 13 (6 Home, 7 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .466
  • SportsLine's AL pennant odds: 25.8 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 14.1 percent

There's still a slim chance the Astros can catch the Red Sox for top seed (and they hold the tiebreaker), but that's a longshot. They're also just six wins from notching back-to-back 100-win seasons for the first time in franchise history. The pesky A's are still very much alive in the AL West, but the Astros, thanks to their roster strength and 4 1/2-game lead, are the heavy favorites to hang on. Also to Houston's benefit is that they won't face the A's again in the regular season. 

AL wild card leader: Yankees (91-58)

  • Games remaining: 13 (6 Home, 7 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .516
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 99.6 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 8 percent

The Yankees' playoff spot is pretty much a lock, but they're just 1 1/2 games ahead of the A's for the right to host the AL Wild Card Game. They also have a slightly tougher remaining schedule than does Oakland .This one could be a photo finish, and the last thing the Yankees want is a trip out west before the potential of an ALDS matchup with Boston back on the East Coast. 

AL wild card runner-up: Athletics (90-60)

  • Games remaining: 12 (6 Home, 6 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .498
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 98.9 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 2.2 percent

Barring collapse over those final 12 games, the A's are going to the playoffs. They're also projected for 97 wins, which would be their highest total since 2002. They're coming up on a six-game homestand against the Angels and Twins, so Bob Melvin would obviously love to clinch that playoff berth during that span. Per SportsLine, the A's have less than a one percent chance of catching Houston in the AL West. If the A's and Yanks do end up in the Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium, then SportsLine sees the Yankees as 55 percent favorites. That's pretty much in line with the generic home-field advantage in MLB.

Teams on the outside looking in

  • Rays: 82-66 (1.4 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
  • Mariners: 82-67 (<1.0 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)

Obviously, the AL field is pretty much set. The Rays have been one of the baseball's best teams in the second half, but their 4-13 start to the year really hurt them in what's been a top-heavy AL. Taking two of three against the A's helped their slim chances, and 10 of their remaining 14 games come against the Blue Jays and Rangers. They'll need Oakland to collapse, though. Seattle still has three head-to-head games against the A's remaining, but, again, Oakland's lead is huge in light of how late it is. 

Teams eliminated

The miserable Orioles are right now projected for 115 losses, which would make them the sixth team ever to reach that unfortunate benchmark. They're also very close to locking up the top overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Among the eliminated teams in the AL, only the Angels have a shot at pulling off a winning season. 

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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