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October Preview: MLB playoffs begin Tuesday with wild-card round

Scott Ratcliffe
(© Todd Taulman – stock.adobe.com)

With the calendar flipping to the month of October, it means postseason baseball is in the air, and with the Sunday’s conclusion of the regular season in the books, the MLB playoffs are now officially set.

Atlanta finished with the best record in baseball (104-58 in the regular season), and will have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The Braves, who claimed their sixth-consecutive division title, are the top seed in the National League and will have a first-round bye.

“You’ve got to earn these things,” said skipper Brian Snitker. “They’re all special, they’re all really hard to do. I’m just so proud of these guys how they’ve stayed so consistent all year and their work ethic. They never got into the highs and lows and the ups and downs, they kept an even course and just never stopped playing, and now they’re going to be rewarded for it.”

In the American League, Baltimore (101-61) owns the top spot and home-field advantage. The Orioles held off Tampa Bay (99-63) for the AL East title and No. 1 seed on that side of the bracket. The O’s are in the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season after capturing the 10th division crown in franchise history and first since 2014.

“From the second that we got done with last year, I think we set our sights on this year,” Baltimore catcher Adley Rutschman said after clinching the No. 1 seed, “and the group of guys that we had coming into spring training was super close already, but we just continued to build every day. We thought we had a talented group, and we’re excited to get going, but we’re here now.”

The AL West-champion Astros (90-72) and NL West-winner Dodgers (100-62) will get the No. 2 seeds and the other two first-round byes.

Houston was in second place in the division entering the final day, but defeated Arizona, 8-1, on Sunday. Texas was a game up and only needed a win or an Astros loss to clinch the division, but came up short against Seattle, 1-0. Both teams finished with the same record, but Houston was awarded first place based on their head-to-head matchups this season.

Meanwhile, the winners in the Central — Minnesota (87-75) and Milwaukee (92-70) — will get the 3-seeds and will have to advance past the Wild-Card Round this week to get to the next round. The Twins will take on the Blue Jays (89-73), while the Brewers will face the Diamondbacks (84-78).

In the other American League Wild-Card matchup, the No. 4-seed Rays will host the No. 5 Rangers (90-72). The other NL Wild-Card series pits the fourth-seeded Phillies (90-72) against the fifth-seeded Marlins (84-77).

The Wild-Card Round gets underway on Tuesday and will run through Thursday — if Mother Nature allows across the country — with the higher-seeded clubs hosting all three games (if necessary).

From there, it’s onto the Division Series, which will begin this weekend. The Wild-Card winners will travel to face the aforementioned teams with first-round byes for the first two games of the best-of-five ALDS and NLDS.

The League Championship Series (best-of-7) will run from Oct. 15-24, with the Fall Classic beginning on Friday, Oct. 27. For the full playoff schedule and final standings, see below.

Final MLB Standings

AL East: 1. Baltimore 101-61; 2. Tampa Bay 99-63; 3. Toronto 89-73; 4. New York 82-80; 5. Boston 78-84.

AL Central: 1. Minnesota 87-75; 2. Detroit 78-84; 3. Cleveland 76-86; 4. Chicago 61-101; 5. Kansas City 56-106.

AL West: 1. Houston 90-72; 2. Texas 90-72; 3. Seattle 88-74; 4. Los Angeles 73-89; 5. Oakland 50-112.

NL East: 1. Atlanta 104-58; 2. Philadelphia 90-72; 3. Miami 84-77; 4. New York 74-87; 5. Washington 71-91.

NL Central: 1. Milwaukee 92-70; 2. Chicago 83-79; 3. Cincinnati 82-80; 4. Pittsburgh 76-86; 5. St. Louis 71-91.

NL West: 1. Los Angeles 100-62; 2. Arizona 84-78; 3. San Diego 82-80; 4. San Francisco 79-83; 5. Colorado 59-103.

Playoff Schedule

Wild-Card Round (Best of 3)


  • Texas at Tampa Bay, 3 p.m. (ABC)
  • Toronto at Minnesota, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Arizona at Milwaukee, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Miami at Philadelphia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)


  • Texas at Tampa Bay, 3 p.m. (ABC)
  • Toronto at Minnesota, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Arizona at Milwaukee, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Miami at Philadelphia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)


  • Texas at Tampa Bay, 3 p.m.* (ABC)
  • Toronto at Minnesota, 4:30 p.m.* (ESPN)
  • Arizona at Milwaukee, 7 p.m.* (ESPN2)
  • Miami at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.* (ESPN)

*— if necessary

Divisional Round (Best of 5)

Saturday, Oct. 7-Saturday, Oct. 14

  • Tampa Bay/Texas vs. Baltimore, TBD
  • Minnesota/Toronto vs. Houston, TBD
  • Philadelphia/Miami vs. Atlanta, TBD
  • Milwaukee/Arizona vs. L.A. Dodgers, TBD

League Championship Series (Best of 7)

Sunday, Oct. 15-Tuesday, Oct. 24

  • Divisional Round winners, TBD

World Series

Game 1: Friday, Oct. 27

Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 28

Game 3: Monday, Oct. 30

Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 31

Game 5: Wednesday, Nov. 1

Game 6: Friday, Nov. 3

Game 7: Saturday, Nov. 4

Scott Ratcliffe

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.