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MLB playoff picture: What’s at stake heading into final stretch of the season

  • September 22, 2021

The 2021 Major League Baseball campaign is in the final stretch of the regular season with the playoff field beginning to take form. 

The divisional races have all but been wrapped up except for the National League West, where the two best teams in baseball – the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers – battle for the top spot.

The postseason setup returns to the 10-team format after 16 teams were allowed after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Seeds 1-3 go to the division winners, in order of record. Seeds 4-5 go to the wild card winners with the two best remaining records. 

Here’s a look at the current playoff picture, starting with the teams that have already booked their postseason tickets as of Sept. 21.

Who has clinched a playoff spot

Giants, Dodgers, Brewers.

Who is next

The Rays and White Sox each have a magic number of two.

Division leaders

American League: Rays, White Sox, Astros

National League: Braves, Brewers, Giants

If the season ended today 

AL Wild Card Game: Red Sox vs. Blue Jays (Oct. 5)

NL Wild Card Game: Dodgers vs. Cardinals (Oct. 6)

ALDS: Astros vs. White Sox (Oct. 7)

ALDS: Rays vs. wild card game winner (Oct. 7)

NLDS: Brewers vs. Braves (Oct. 8)

NLDS: Giants vs. wild card game winner (Oct. 8)

AL wild card race

  1. Red Sox (87-65) +1.5 (91.9% chance of making playoffs, per ESPN
  2. Blue Jays (85-66) — (66.4%)
  3. Yankees (85-67) 0.5 (38.7%)
  4. Mariners (82-69) 3.0 (1.3%)
  5. Athletics (82-69) 3.0 (1.7%)

NL wild card race

  1. Dodgers* (97-54) +15.5 (100%)
  2. Cardinals (81-69) — (89.7%)
  3. Reds (78-74) 4.0 (5.8%)
  4. Phillies (77-74) 4.5  (17.8%)
  5. Padres (76-74) 5.0 (1.6%)

*Clinched a playoff berth

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