Road to the Postseason: Sept. 6

Dodgers can clinch spot today; Angels pass Twins for second Wild Card

Road to the Postseason: Sept. 6

With four weeks remaining in the regular season, playoff races are heating up across Major League Baseball. The Dodgers could become the first team to clinch a postseason berth on Wednesday, needing a win over the D-backs and losses by both the Cubs and Brewers (more details on this below).

Here's where we stand heading into today:

American League Wild Card
The Angels leapfrogged the Twins and moved back into the second AL Wild Card spot with an extra-inning win over the Athletics. The Angels' win, coupled with a loss by the Yankees, means the Halos are 2 1/2 games back of New York for the top AL Wild Card.

The Yankees lost a heart-breaker to the Orioles on a walk-off homer by Manny Machado, which kept Baltimore within one game of the Angels. The Twins lost to the Rays to fall out of a Wild Card berth and a half-game back of the Angels.

The Rangers, Rays, Mariners and Royals are all in the mix for the second AL Wild Card, too. The Rangers are two games out, the Rays are 2 1/2 back and the Mariners and Royals are each three games off the pace.

National League Wild Card
The D-backs extended their win streak to 12 games with an extra-inning triumph over the Dodgers and remained 6 1/2 games ahead of the Rockies for the first NL Wild Card.

Colorado also won and moved 2 1/2 games up on the Brewers for the second NL Wild Card. The Cardinals are on the outside looking in, but they have won three in a row and are just three games back of the Rockies.

American League home-field advantage
The Astros have won six games in a row and continue to hold onto the top spot in the AL, but the Indians are on their heels, thanks to a 13-game win streak that has Cleveland within three games of Houston.

"We're playing pretty good baseball, but it's fluid," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You've got a game tonight; you've got a game tomorrow. We don't get too caught up in streaks, whether it's bad or good. I don't think you set yourself up for success that way."

The Astros lead the Angels by 13 1/2 games in the AL West. The streaking Indians are 11 games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays in 19 innings on Tuesday to move 3 1/2 games in front of the Yankees in the AL East.

National League home-field advantage
The Dodgers remain on pace to win more than 100 games, but their lead over the Nationals for the best record in the NL has been cut to eight games. Los Angeles is 1-9 in its last 10 games, while Washington is 7-3.

The Dodgers are 11 1/2 games up on the D-backs in the NL West. The Nationals own a 17-game advantage over the Marlins in the NL East, and their magic number to clinch the division is down to eight. The Cubs are 3 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central.

How the Dodgers can clinch a postseason berth on Wednesday, Sept. 6
It may not seem obvious that the Dodgers (who have 92 wins) can clinch today given that the Cubs (74 wins) and Brewers (72 wins) can still theoretically win 99 and 95 games, respectively. However, the Dodgers can clinch today if they win and BOTH the Cubs and Brewers lose. Here is how:

The Cubs and Brewers still play each other seven more times and someone has to lose those games. Therefore, there is no scenario in which both the Cubs and Brewers can finish tied at 94 wins; the most wins either team can have and not clinch the NL Central is 93. If one team wins out (including winning all seven games against the other), then the other cannot surpass the 93 victories the Dodgers will have if they win today.

Beyond that, here are the other possible scenarios that could prevent the Dodgers from clinching a Postseason berth outright with 93 wins.

-- If the Brewers go 6-1 vs. the Cubs, and otherwise win out, they finish 94-68 and win the NL Central.
-- And if the Cubs go 1-6 vs. the Brewers, and otherwise win out, they finish 93-69.
-- If the Cubs go 2-5 vs. the Brewers, and otherwise win out, they finish 94-68 and win the NL Central.
-- If the Brewers go 5-2 vs. the Cubs, and otherwise win out, they finish 93-69.

In all of these scenarios, the Cubs and Brewers win the rest of their games that aren't against each other, and even in that case the team that didn't win the NL Central would need a tiebreaker game against the Dodgers at 93-69 in that scenario. So if both lose today and the Dodgers win, then it becomes impossible for both teams to get to 93 wins and prevent an outright clinch of a playoff berth by the Dodgers.

Note that St. Louis currently has 67 losses, so they could also win out and finish 95-67. However, that would mean they sweep their remaining games vs. the Cubs (7) and Brewers (3), which would eliminate both of those clubs anyway.

If the postseason began today...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Wild Card: Angels at Yankees
Division Series: Wild Card at Astros, Red Sox at Indians

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Wild Card: Rockies at D-backs
Division Series: Wild Card at Dodgers, Cubs at Nationals

2017 POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
AL Wild Card Game (1-game playoff): Oct. 3
NL Wild Card Game (1-game playoff): Oct. 4
AL Division Series begins (best-of-5, 2-2-1 format): Oct. 5
NL Division Series begins (best-of-5, 2-2-1 format): Oct. 6
AL Championship Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format): Oct. 13
NL Championship Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format): Oct. 14
World Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format): Oct. 24

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.