MLB playoff picture: How Saturday's action will shake things out

The Major League Baseball season is down to a matter of hours, not days, and much remains unresolved. Not a single wild card berth has been clinched in either league, as four teams are bunched within 1 ½ games for two American League spots, while the three-team shootout in the National League remains at an impasse.

Saturday’s games could bring significant resolution – or bring us one step closer to 72 hours of chaos before the wild card games even commence.

A guide to all the playoff scenarios for Saturday:

AL wild card

Standings entering Saturday:

Baltimore Orioles             88           72           .550        +1

Toronto Blue Jays            87           73           .544        -

Detroit Tigers                   86           73           .541        0.5

Seattle Mariners               86           74           .538        1

Saturday’s relevant games (all times PM ET):

Orioles (Wade Miley) at Yankees (Luis Severino), 4:05

Blue Jays (J.A. Happ) at Red Sox (Eduardo Rodriguez), 7:10

Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann) at Braves (Aaron Blair), 7:10

Athletics (Jharel Cotton) at Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma), 10:10

Outlook: There’s only one scenario in which a team can secure a playoff berth Saturday: The Orioles win at Yankee Stadium, and the Tigers lose at Atlanta.

And with the Tigers now tied with the Blue Jays in the loss column, it’s almost a certainty Detroit will return home and make up a rained-out game against Cleveland on Monday.

The only situations in which that game doesn’t get played:

  • The Blue Jays win twice and Tigers lose twice, or vice versa, ensuring one of those clubs earns at least the second wild card. Also, if the Blue Jays win twice and Tigers lose once, the Tigers could not catch the Blue Jays.
  • The Orioles win at least one more game than the Tigers Saturday and Sunday.
  • The Mariners lose at least once, and the Tigers win at least once.

The Tigers do control their own destiny: If they win out in Atlanta and beat Cleveland on Monday, they at least ensure a play-in game for the second wild card slot. And that could create a zany four games, four cities, four days scenario:

  • Sunday at Atlanta
  • Monday vs. Cleveland at Comerica Park
  • Tuesday at Toronto, tiebreaker
  • Wednesday at Baltimore, wild card game

Only Baltimore has the simplest scenario: Win twice and it’s in. Lose once, and it leaves the door wide open for two-, three- or even four-team tiebreakers, pushing the start of the AL playoffs into the middle of next week.

Want to figure out those scenarios? We have you covered right here.

NL wild card

Standings entering Saturday

New York Mets                 86           74           .538        +1

San Francisco Giants       85           75           .531        -

St. Louis Cardinals            84           76           .525        1

Saturday’s relevant games:

Mets (Bartolo Colon) at Phillies (Phil Klein), 1:05

Pirates (Chad Kuhl) at Cardinals (Michael Wacha), 1:05

Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw) at Giants (Ty Blach), 4:05

Outlook: There’s only one certainty here: The Mets’ season will not end Sunday, a scenario about as likely as Colon emerging as their most dependable starter. Yet, here we are.

The burly Colon, 43, can pitch New York back into the postseason by beating the Phillies today, but even if the Mets lose two and the Cardinals win two, they’ll get a tiebreaker game out of it at the worst.

This race can be done before the sun sets on AT&T Park tonight, or it could stretch into midweek. The Cardinals hold the key: They win, and it forces the Giants to play a relevant Game 162 on Sunday

A Cardinals loss and Giants win, and we can get ready for Madison Bumgarner vs. Noah Syndergaard, Wednesday night at, most likely, Citi Field.

Home-field advantage

This, too, is clearing up. The Texas Rangers will have home-field advantage all the way through the World Series, and will host the AL wild card winner, most likely Thursday.

Boston-Cleveland is locked in as the other AL Division Series. The Red Sox can clinch home field with a win over Toronto or a Cleveland loss to Kansas City today.

In the National League, the Cubs have iced home field advantage through the NLCS and will play the wild card winner. A Washington Nationals win or a Dodgers loss ensures that NL Division Series will open in the District of Columbia.

Copyright 2016 USA TODAY Sports


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment