Let’s take a look at the current MLB standings!
1st place: NY Yankees (97-52)
2nd place: Houston Astros (96-53)
3rd place: Minnesota Twins (89-57)
With less than a month remaining in the MLB regular season, home-field advantage is a neck and neck race between NY and Houston. The Yankees have 13 games remaining on their schedule and 11 of which are against teams with more losses than wins to their name. The lone opponent with a winning record that the Yankees will have to face is a current wildcard team, the Tampa Bay Rays. As for the Astros, their remaining 13 games are against opponents that only have losing records. That being said, it is entirely plausible that the AL home-field advantage will be decided when the Yankees face the Rays during the final week of the regular season. It would be wrong to say that the Twins are a lock for third place considering Cleveland is only 3 games back from them and could overtake them for the AL Central crown… but… the Twins finish the season with 13 straight games against the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers. Whereas Cleveland will have to face the Phillies and the Nationals for 6 of their final games. That being said, a 3-game series between Minnesota and Cleveland begins today thanks to a rainout so the division momentum could swing in favor of either team come next Monday.
Oakland A’s (88-60)
Tampa Bay Rays (88-61)
The current wildcard teams if the postseason started today are the A’s and the Rays. Oakland has one of the easier schedules down the stretch so their spot seems safe to the naked eye. The Rays, on the other hand, have to face the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Yankees in the coming weeks.
On the Outside Looking In
Cleveland Indians (86-61)
Boston Red Sox (77-70)
Cleveland has a legitimate chance at either the division crown or a wildcard spot if they can finish the season strong without one of their top bats in the lineup due to injury: Jose Ramirez. Although not officially eliminated, Bostons’ season looks lost as they will most likely need to win ALL of their remaining games as well as have the teams ahead of them lose a majority of their games. A disappointing season for the Red Sox, who are stacked with talent, to say the least.
1st place: LA Dodgers (96-53)
2nd place: Atlanta Braves (92-57)
3rd place: St. Louis Cardinals (83-64)
As of writing, the Dodgers are the only team in the entire MLB to have clinched their division already. The Dodgers are guaranteed a top-3 seed in the NL playoffs and all signs point to them being the #1 seed and gaining home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. In all likelihood, Atlanta will be #2 seed in the NL but they will try to surpass the Dodgers with a strong final few weeks of the season. Although not as close of a race, the top-2 seeds in the NL are fighting for the top spot just like the AL. As for the Cardinals, I’ll get to them momentarily…
Washington Nationals (81-65)
Chicago Cubs (79-68)
The Nationals have arguably the toughest remaining schedule for any team currently holding a playoff spot. They have to face the Braves (current 2-seed), Cardinals (current 3-seed), Marlins (worst team in baseball, they can’t all be hard games), Phillies (fighting for a playoff spot), and Cleveland (fighting for a playoff spot in the AL). Just like the Cardinals, I will get to the Cubs momentarily…
On the Outside Looking In
Milwaukee Brewers (78-69)
Philadelphia Phillies (76-70)
NY Mets (76-71)
Arizona Diamondbacks (75-73)
Cincinnati Reds (69-79)
San Diego Padres (68-79)
Pittsburgh Pirates (65-83)
Although not officially eliminated, the bottom three teams here are certainly not going to make the playoffs. Each of them would have to win out and have the teams above them lose every game. But, as we can see, the NL playoff race is much more interesting than the AL race. The NL East could have 3 playoff teams if the Mets or Phillies can climb into the final wildcard spot, bumping down the NL Central teams and warding off the Diamondbacks in the process. Speaking of those NL Central teams…
NL Central Playoff Race
The Cardinals currently have a 4 game lead on the NL Central crown but the Cubs and Brewers are hot on their tails. Of the 3 teams, the Brewers (5 games back) have the easiest remaining schedule as they get to face the Padres, Rockies, Reds, and Pirates to close out the season. Of their 15 games remaining, the Cubs and Cardinals have to play against each other for 7 of those games! Not to mention the Cardinals also have to face the Nationals and the Diamondbacks. As the season draws to a close, the Cardinals and Cubs will determine the NL Central crown with their 7 games against each other. But, keep an eye on the Brewers as they have a sneaky easy schedule that could allow them to jump up in the standings.
Playoff Seeding Predictions
Let me know who you think will make the playoffs this year as we enter the final couple weeks of the season!