MLB wild-card standings, playoff picture, bracket update: Plenty at stake for Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals
With just two days remaining the NL Central, NL West, and NL wild card races are unsettled
Just two days remain in the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season. Many postseason races have already been decided, but a few remain up in the air, which means we're in for an exciting weekend. Here's an update on the postseason races.
(World Series probabilities are via SportsLine)
Current playoff bracket
The Red Sox (107-53, 17.01% World Series champs) are the AL East champs and top seed. The Astros (101-58, 13.35%) are the AL West champs and No. 2 seed. The Indians (90-70, 11.67%) are the AL Central champs and No. 3 in the AL. The Yankees (99-61, 10.04%) and Athletics (96-64, 2.45%) will meet in the AL Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. The AL postseason field is settled. Those races are over.
Over on the NL side, the Braves (90-70, 4.17%) are the NL East champions. The Cubs, Brewers, and Rockies have clinched playoff spots. The worst-case scenario for the Cubs and Brewers right now is home-field advantage in the NL Wild Card Game.
What's almost done
With just two games to play, the Dodgers hold a two-game lead over the Cardinals for the second NL wild-card spot. Los Angeles will clinch a postseason spot with their next win or the next Cardinals loss.
Everything else! We'll go by team:
The Cubs (94-66, 8.68%) are clinging to a one-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central, which will provide the top NL seed. The Cubs won their series opener against the Cardinals on Friday and have won 10 of their last 15 games. They can clinch the division title as soon as Saturday with a win and a Brewers loss. If only one of those two things happens, the Cubs are ensured at least a Game 163 tiebreaker for the division title.
The Brewers (93-67, 4.19%) have been amazing since a mid-August funk. Since Aug. 18, they are 25-10, which is easily the best mark in the NL in that span. They are facing the hapless Tigers this weekend and, to win the NL Central outright, they need to win Saturday and Sunday while the Cubs lose Saturday and Sunday. The Brewers have already secured home-field advantage in the NL Wild Card Game, should they not win the division.
The Rockies (90-70, 5.30%) have won eight games in a row to seize control of the NL West from the Dodgers. Much like the Central, this is a one-game lead with two to go, so the division title can be wrapped up as soon as Saturday. Their magic number is two. The Rockies are hosting the Nationals this weekend and will clinch the NL West title with a win and a Dodgers loss on Saturday. Colorado has never won a division title in franchise history. They're on the verge of winning their first.
The Dodgers (89-71, 23.05%) are currently in the second NL wild-card slot, holding a one-game lead over the Cardinals. Los Angeles will clinch a postseason spot with its next win or the next Cardinals loss. That said, the Dodgers are focused on catching the Rockies in the NL West. They need to win Saturday and Sunday while the Rockies lose Saturday and Sunday to win the division outright. It's worth noting Los Angeles has clinched a 163rd game. It'll either be a tiebreaker game, the Wild Card Game, or Game 1 of the NLDS, but the Dodgers will play beyond Sunday.
The Cardinals (87-73, 0.09%) have their backs up against the wall after losing four straight games. They are currently two games behind the Dodgers for the second wild-card spot and that means the Cardinals have to win Saturday and Sunday while the Dodgers lose Saturday and Sunday just to force a Game 163 tiebreaker. A tall order, to be sure. They need help from the Giants, who are hosting the rival Dodgers this weekend.
We know on the NL side that the NL Central champion will be the top seed and host the Wild Card Game winner. We know the Braves will play the NL West champion, but we don't know which division champ there will have home-field advantage. Only two games remain, but there are still lots of potential scenarios in play. It's all kinds of fun and, for fans of teams involved, nerve-wracking. It's what you sign up for as a fan.
It should be noted the potential exists for two tiebreaker games on the NL side. It's enough of a possibility that MLB sent out a schedule for potential tiebreaker scenarios earlier this week:
It is still possible for the Cubs and Brewers to tie for first place in the NL Central at 94-68 or 95-67, and for the Dodgers and Rockies to tie for first place in the NL West at 90-72 or 91-71. In that case, the following tiebreaker games would happen:
- Brewers at Cubs to decide NL Central champion.
- Rockies at Dodgers to decide NL West champion.
- The losers of the NL Central and NL West tiebreaker games would be the two wild card teams.
The Cubs and Dodgers would host the tiebreaker games because they won the season series over the Brewers and Dodgers, respectively. The second-place team in the NL Central will host the Wild Card Game regardless of opponent.
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