MLB wild-card standings, AL playoff picture update: Red Sox could clinch AL East title at Yankee Stadium
Most other American League postseason races have been decided or will be shortly
The 2018 MLB regular season ends Sunday, Sept. 30, meaning the postseason is now only two weeks away. 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 is the SportsLine Projection System and here is what the AL postseason field would look like if the season ended today ( ):
AL East leader: Red Sox (103-48)
- Games remaining: 11 (6 Home, 5 Away)
- Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .519
- SportsLine's AL pennant odds: 33.3. percent
- SportsLine's World Series odds: 17.9 percent
Boston has already clinched a postseason spot and its magic number to clinch the AL East is two, and five of its final 11 games are against the second place Yankees, including Wednesday's and Thursday's games. One win in those five head-to-head games clinches a third-straight division title for the Red Sox. Also, Boston's magic number to clinch the best record in baseball is a mere four. Any combination of Red Sox wins and Astros losses totaling four the rest of the season clinches home-field advantage throughout the postseason for the BoSox.
AL Central winner: Indians (84-66)
- Games remaining: 12 (5 Home, 7 Away)
- Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .434
- SportsLine's AL pennant odds: 20.0 percent
- SportsLine's World Series odds: 10.7 percent
The Indians have already clinched their third consecutive division title and they are 10 games behind the Astros in the loss column, which means they will almost certainly be the road team when those two clubs meet in the ALDS.
AL West leader: Astros (95-56)
- Games remaining: 11 (4 Home, 7 Away)
- Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .420
- SportsLine's AL pennant odds: 33.3 percent
- SportsLine's World Series odds: 13.5 percent
As recently as Aug. 21 the Astros and Athletics were tied for the AL West lead. Houston has gone 19-6 since then to open a five-game lead in the division race. Their magic number is five and these two teams won't meet again, so the A's will need a lot of help to win the division, which is unfortunate for them because the Astros have the easiest remaining schedule in baseball based on opponent's winning percent. Also, Houston's magic number to clinch home-field advantage in its inevitable ALDS matchup against the Indians is just two. The magic number for a postseason spot is two as well.
AL wild card leader: Yankees (92-58)
- Games remaining: 12 (5 Home, 7 Away)
- Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .537
- SportsLine's playoff odds: 99.5 percent
- SportsLine's World Series odds: 8.0 percent
The Yankees are limping to the finish line a bit -- they are 7-8 in September and 9-11 in their last 20 games -- but they still have a comfortable eight-game lead on a wild-card spot. Their lead over the A's for home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game is 2 1/2 games, but, because the Yankees hold the tiebreaker*, it is effectively a 3 1/2-game lead. New York's magic number to clinch a postseason spot is five.
* The Yankees and A's tied their season series 3-3. The next home-field advantage tiebreaker is intradivision record. The Yankees are 36-28 (.563) against the AL East while the A's are 33-35 (.485) against the AL West. Those records will change between now and the end of the season, but the Yankees have a comfortable seven-game lead in the loss column.
AL wild card runner-up: Athletics (90-61)
- Games remaining: 11 (5 Home, 6 Away)
- Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .481
- SportsLine's playoff odds: 94.9 percent
- SportsLine's World Series odds: 2.1 percent
Three straight losses and four losses in the last five games put the A's five games behind the Astros in the AL West. More importantly, Oakland is 5 1/2 games up on the surging Rays for the second wild-card spot. They're only 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the top wild-card spot and thus home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game, though New York holds the tiebreaker, effectively making it a 3 1/2-game lead. The A's magic number for a postseason spot is seven.
Teams on the outside looking in
- Rays: 84-66 (5.4 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
- Mariners: 83-68 (0.2 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
The Mariners have already been eliminated from the AL West race and their elimination number for a wild-card spot is down to five. It sure seems like the longest postseason drought in baseball is about to be extended another year. The Mariners haven't been to the postseason since 2001, Ichiro Suzuki's rookie year.
As for the Rays, they are really surging -- Tampa is 13-3 in September and 22-5 in their last 27 games -- though this might be a case of too little, too late. The Rays are still 5 1/2 games behind the A's for the second wild-card spot with 12 games to play, none of them head-to-head (Tampa took two of three from the Athletics over the weekend.) There just might not be enough games remaining on the schedule for the Rays to complete the comeback and qualify for the postseason.
- Orioles: 43-108
- Royals: 52-99
- White Sox: 59-91
- Tigers: 61-90
- Rangers: 64-87
- Blue Jays: 69-82
- Twins: 70-81
- Angels: 75-76
Eight of the 15 AL clubs have already been eliminated from postseason contention and the Mariners will make it nine of the 15 AL teams pretty soon. For all intents and purposes, there is only one race remaining in the American League: Yankees vs. Athletics for the top wild-card spot. Everything else seems fairly settled.
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