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MLB Playoff Primer: Where things stand as the calendar flips to October

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(© Sean Gladwell – stock.adobe.com)

As the Major League Baseball regular season comes to a close over the next three days, there’s still a lot to be determined in terms of playoff positioning.

There are several things we do already know:

The Los Angeles Dodgers (110-49) have wrapped up not only the National League’s West division, but also home-field advantage throughout the postseason, as they clinched the league’s best overall record. They are one of four clubs who will have a bye for this weekend’s expanded Wild Card round (more on that below).

The Houston Astros (104-55) will have home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs as the No. 1 seed. They will also have a first-round bye.

The New York Yankees (97-61) wrapped up the AL East and the No. 2 seed. They will also have the weekend off.

Either the Atlanta Braves (100-59) or the New York Mets (98-61) will get the final bye this weekend, depending on which team winds up winning the NL East. The Braves, who swept the Mets over the weekend to move into first place, currently hold a two-game lead heading into the final series. Atlanta, with a magic number of 1, plays its final three games in Miami, while New York hosts the Nationals.

The Cleveland Guardians (90-69) clinched the AL Central and the No. 3 seed. They will host the No. 6 seed this weekend in the Wild Card round.

The St. Louis Cardinals (92-67) won the NL Central and will be the No. 3 seed this weekend, hosting the No. 6 seed.

The Toronto Blue Jays (90-69), Seattle Mariners (87-71) and Tampa Bay Rays (86-73) have clinched the AL’s three remaining Wild Card spots.

The NL East runner-up (Braves or Mets) will get the No. 4 seed and will host the No. 5 seed this weekend.

The San Diego Padres (87-72) have clinched a playoff spot. They’re currently in the No. 5 slot, one game ahead of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia (86-73) has not yet clinched a playoff spot. They’re battling with Milwaukee (84-75) for the final seed. The Phillies are at the Astros to close the regular season, while the Brewers host the Diamondbacks.

As for the AL teams still jockeying for position, the Blue Jays can clinch the No. 4 seed and home-field advantage for the Wild Card round with a win or a Mariners loss. Toronto plays at Baltimore this week, while Seattle hosts Detroit.

The Mariners are currently a game up on Tampa for the No. 5 seed. The Rays, which can only move up a spot to No. 5, would need to win at least two of their final three games at Boston, while the Mariners have an extra game, (a doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday against the Tigers), so a lot can still happen there.

As for the playoffs themselves, there will be a new format this season, as mentioned. With the extra Wild Card team in each league, there will now be two, best-of-three series to determine the two teams to advance to the best-of-five Divisional round next week (against the two teams that got byes; No. 1 seeds would host 4/5 winners, No. seeds would host 3/6 winners).

From there, it’s business as usual, with a pair of best-of-seven League Championship Series to give us our 2022 World Series participants.

This year’s Fall Classic is scheduled to begin on Friday, Oct. 28. If there’s a deciding Game 7 this year, it’s slated for Saturday, Nov. 5.

According to Caesars Sportsbook, the Dodgers (+300) currently hold the best odds to win the World Series, followed by the Astros (+380), Yankees (+500), Braves (+600) and Mets (+800).

Current AL Standings

Houston 104-55 (clinched AL West, No. 1 seed) vs Phillies

NY Yankees 97-61 (clinched AL East, No. 2 seed) at Rangers (4 games)

Cleveland 90-69 (clinched AL Central, No. 3 seed) vs Royals

Toronto 90-69 (clinched playoff spot, +4 in Wild Card standings) at Orioles

Seattle 87-71 (clinched playoff spot, +1.5 in Wild Card standings) vs Tigers (4 games)

Tampa Bay 86-73 (clinched playoff spot, — in Wild Card standings) at Red Sox

If AL Playoffs started today

  1. Houston Astros — bye*
  2. New York Yankees — bye*

Wild Card round

  1. Cleveland Guardians* vs 6. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Toronto Blue Jays vs 5. Seattle Mariners

*Clinched Seed

Current NL Standings

  • Los Angeles 110-49 (clinched NL West, No. 1 overall seed in playoffs) vs Rockies
  • Atlanta 100-59 (clinched playoff spot, can clinch NL East, No. 2 seed with one win or one Mets loss) at Marlins
  • NY Mets 98-61 (clinched playoff spot, +12 in Wild Card standings) vs Nationals
  • Louis 92-67 (clinched NL Central, No. 3 seed) at Pirates
  • San Diego 87-72 (clinched playoff spot, +1 in Wild Card standings) vs Giants
  • Philadelphia 86-73 (— in Wild Card standings) at Astros
  • Milwaukee 84-75 (2 back in Wild Card standings) vs Diamondbacks

If NL Playoffs started today

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers — bye*
  2. Atlanta Braves — bye

Wild Card round

  1. St. Louis Cardinals * vs 6 Philadelphia Phillies
  2. New York Mets vs 5 San Diego Padres

*Clinched Seed

Remaining MLB Schedule

  • Mon, Tues, Wed (10/3,4,5) = last series of regular season
  • Fri, Sat, Sun (10/7,8,9) = Wild Card round (best of 3); top two seeds in each league (HOU, NYY, LAD, NL East champ) have byes
  • Beginning Tues 10/11 = Divisional Round (best of 5)
  • Beginning Tues 10/18 = League Championship Series (best of 7)
  • Beginning Fri 10/28 = World Series (best of 7); Game 2 Sat 10/29; Game 3 Mon 10/31; Game 4 Tues 11/1; Game 5* Wed 11/2; Game 6* Fri 11/4; Game 7* Sat 11/5

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe has worked as a freelance writer for several publications over the past decade-plus, with a concentration on local and college sports. He is also a writer and editor for his father’s website, JerryRatcliffe.com, dedicated to the coverage of University of Virginia athletics.