It's been quite some time since the American League playoff picture has been determined. Granted, it was only official two days ago and there are certain teams still fighting for home field advantage, but the race in the Senior Circuit is so much tighter.
But first, the American League.
1. Boston Red Sox (94-65)
2. Cleveland Indians (94-65) - AL CENTRAL CHAMPIONS
3. Los Angeles Angels (92-67) - AL WEST CHAMPIONS
4. New York Yankees (92-67)
Those four teams are in, but they're still battling for the position. If the playoffs were to start today, the Red Sox would host the Angels and the Yankees and the Indians would square off at Jacobs Field. However, there are still plenty of things needed to be determined.
For starters, the AL East Championship is still very much up for grabs, even though the Red Sox have a two-game advantage with just three games to play. The Yankees do have one thing going for them: because both teams have already clinched the playoffs, there would not be a tiebreaker if the teams ended up tying atop the division. Instead, the division title would go to the Bronx Bombers for the better head-to-head record.
Also, the Cleveland Indians continue to battle for home field advantage throughout the playoffs while the Angels still have a shot at home field adavantage in the division series.
The National League is so much more crowded though. As opposed to all four teams having been determined in the AL, none have been determined while 7 teams remain alive, mathematically.
T1. New York Mets (87-72)
T1. Philadelphia Phillies (87-72)
The reeling Mets have lost four games in a row and now find themselves not only in a tie for the division lead, but in jeopardy of falling out of the playoffs. The Phillies would have home-field advantage in a potential one-game playoff and they face off against the Nationals to finish out the season, so it appears that they have a clear advantage.
1. Chicago Cubs (83-76)
2. Milwaukee Brewers (-2.0)
Believe it or not, the Cubs are the team closest to clinching the division in the National League. The sweep to Florida hurts, not only because of what it means in our race against Milwaukee, but the New York's struggles had allowed the Cubs to potentially sneak into the home-field advantage in the first round. Now, the Cubs are four behind New York with three to play, so it is guaranteed that if they make the playoffs, the first two games will be on the road.
Trying to figure out who the first round opponent could be for the Cubs hasn't gotten any easier over the past couple of days. In fact, it's gotten harder. With just three days remaining, there are five very possible scenarios:
a) Cubs would play New York, if Phillies (T in div, -1 in WC) won the Wild Card.
b) Cubs would play Philadelphia, if Mets (T in div, -1 in WC) won the Wild Card.
c) Cubs would play Arizona, if Padres (+1 WC) or Rockies (-1 WC) won the Wild Card.
d) Cubs would play San Diego, if Diamondbacks (+1 div) won the Wild Card.
e) Cubs would play Rockies, if they (-2 div) won the division AND Padres or Diamondbacks won the Wild Card.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (89-70)
2. San Diego Padres (-1.0)
3. Colorado Rockies (-2.0)
You might say that making up two games in three days is hard enough, especially when you have to leapfrog another team, but with the Padres playing the Brewers and the Rockies getting to take matters into their own hands against Arizona in the final weekend, Colorado has a realistic shot. Besides, they've already won 11 in a row...so 3 more shouldn't be a problem, right? (If only it were that easy.)
The Padres currently have a one-game lead in the Wild Card race and trail the division by one-game. By virtue of records, the Padres could be battling for the difference between the #1 seed and the #4 seed.
NL WILD CARD:
1. San Diego Padres (88-71)
T2. Colorado Rockies (-1.0)
T2. Mets/Phillies (-1.0)
As many as three of the four teams on this list could make the playoffs, if the Diamondbacks fall far enough. However, their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is currently at 2, and they do not need reach that number against all of the teams listed. Considering the fact that a win against the Rockies would drop Rockies' E# immediately to zero, the Diamondbacks could clinch a playoff berth with as little as one win and a loss from EITHER the Mets or Phillies.