Dodgers could clinch today with help; 8 teams in AL Wild Card hunt
By Chad Thornburg
The MLB playoffs are less than a month away, and a number of spots are up for grabs in both the National League and American League. The Dodgers are in position to claim the first postseason berth Thursday with a win and some help from the Pirates.
Here's where we stand heading into today:
American League Wild Card
With the Yankees inactive Wednesday because of a rainout in Baltimore, the Twins gained ground in pursuit of the AL's top Wild Card spot. By defeating fellow Wild Card contender Tampa Bay, 10-6, at Tropicana Field, the Twins cut their deficit behind New York to 2 1/2 games for home-field advantage in the one-game playoff.
Behind Minnesota, it's a crowded six-team race. The Angels and idle Orioles linger outside the playoff picture by just a half-game and a game, respectively. The Rangers, Royals, Rays and Mariners remain within 3 1/2 games of the Twins.
National League Wild Card
Arizona has a firm hold on the NL's top Wild Card spot with the third-best record in the league. The Rockies, however, are on shakier ground with the Cardinals and Brewers challenging them for the second spot.
Colorado fell to the Giants, 11-3, on Wednesday, missing an opportunity to capitalize on a loss by the Brewers and allowing the Cardinals to close to within two games after a win in San Diego.
How the Dodgers can clinch a postseason berth today
The Dodgers came up short in their quest to claim the first playoff spot Wednesday, losing to the D-backs while the Cubs beat the Pirates. For the Dodgers to clinch a postseason berth today, they need a win and losses by the Cubs and Cardinals. Milwaukee is off today, but the Cubs play the Pirates in Pittsburgh and the Cardinals are in San Diego to play the Padres. Los Angeles hosts the Rockies at Dodger Stadium for the beginning of a four-game series.
While the Brewers or the Cubs could pass the Dodgers in the standings, they still play each other seven more times, so there's no scenario in which they both finish tied at 94 wins. The most wins either team can have without clinching the NL Central is 93, allowing the Dodgers an opportunity to clinch sooner than the standings would suggest.
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 against the Cubs (7) and Brewers (3), which would eliminate both of those clubs anyway.
Despite their six-game losing skid, the Dodgers have still maintained the best record in baseball. They hold a seven-game lead on the Nationals in the NL despite losing 11 of their last 12.
The Astros are atop the American League but must fend off a surging Cleveland squad that's now won 14 straight games to pull closer to home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.
"That shows what kind of team we are and how we're playing baseball right now," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said after Wednesday's win over the White Sox. "We're just having fun out there and competing. We're not backing down, and it's fun when guys are grinding out at-bats, getting on base and taking advantage of opportunities."
If the postseason began today ...
AMERICAN LEAGUE Wild Card: Twins 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
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.