Welcome to October: Postseason guide for fans

Welcome to October: Postseason guide for fans

There's an autumnal chill in the air, but it's mixed with a special sizzle. It's called October baseball, and the 10-team postseason is set.

Beginning Tuesday with the American League Wild Card Game, the official month-long dance to the World Series title begins. Unparalleled excitement between the lines and on the sport's grandest stages is ours to soak in, enjoy, and file away in the annals of the game.

Postseason gear: LAD | CLE | HOU | WSH | BOS | CHC | ARI | NYY | COL | MIN

Here's a quick postseason guide with a breakdown of the biggest storylines, matchups and home-field advantage, as well as details on how to watch every game this October.

Postseason schedule

What are the biggest storylines?

Each team has a roster full of intrigue, but these five narratives are a good place to start:

1. Indians pine for payback
The team that recently won an AL-record 22 consecutive games also has some unfinished business in the postseason, maybe more than anyone else. It was this Cleveland club that came oh-so-close last year, losing to the Cubs in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series after tying the game in the eighth and then sweating out a short rain delay.

Indians are AL's team to beat

And it's the Cleveland fan base that has been waiting for a World Series championship since 1948 and has what looks like an even more potent and well-balanced team heading into this year's dance.

2. Cubs try for rare repeat
A team hasn't won back-to-back World Series since the 2000 Yankees pulled off an even more hard-to-accomplish three-peat. Cubs fans didn't see a World Series title on the North Side in 108 years, but they finally got one, and it occurred in spectacular fashion. Now they attempt to claim another championship, and it wouldn't be surprising if they pull it off. After Saturday's win, the Cubs hit their season high at 23 games over .500 and finished by winning 15 of their last 19.

Cubs clinch, ready for more

3. First things first
If the Astros, Nationals or Rockies win the World Series, it will be first title in franchise history, and a mere Fall Classic appearance by Washington would be the first in that team's history since the franchise began as the Montreal Expos in 1969.

4. Blue on the horizon?
The Dodgers have been perennial postseason participants of late, but the team with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs (more on that below) by virtue of the best record in the Major Leagues this season has not won a World Series championship since the Kirk Gibson- and Orel Hershiser-led underdog crew of 1988 got it done over the Oakland A's.

Manager Dave Roberts comes in with a loaded squad and an ace, Clayton Kershaw, who would like to prove once and for all that he's the best pitcher in the regular season and in October.

Friedman on playoff roster

5. History could be made
Well, actually, in the case of the AL Wild Card Game-bound Twins, history has already been made. Skipper Paul Molitor's team became the first club to lose 100 games in a season (2016) and then qualify for the postseason in the following year ('17). Taking it all the way to a World Series ring would almost seem unfathomable, but these Twins have been defying odds all season.

Mauer on returning to postseason

The D-backs have been impressive in their turnaround, too. They reversed last year's 69-93 record to 93-69 and will host the National League Wild Card Game, which will be played at Chase Field on Wednesday against the NL West-rival Rockies.

D-backs GM on playoff berth

Who has home-field advantage?

Here's how it breaks down for each series, all the way to the World Series:

AL Wild Card Game
Twins at Yankees. The Yankees (91-71) had the higher winning percentage of the two teams this season (the Twins went 85-77), so the game will be played at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Yankees' bullpen in postseason

NL Wild Card Game
Rockies at D-backs. Same deal with the D-backs (93-69) and the Rockies (87-75). The win-and-move-on game is set for Chase Field on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS.

AL Division Series presented by Doosan (2-2-1 format)
In the first ALDS, the top division-winning seed in the AL, the Indians (102-60), gets home-field advantage (Games 1, 2 and 5) over the winner of the AL Wild Card Game.

In the other ALDS, the division winner with the next-best regular-season record, the Astros (101-61), has home field against the next-seeded division winner, the Red Sox (93-69). Both ALDS will begin on Thursday on FS1/MLB Network with the Red Sox and Astros at 4 p.m. and the Indians vs. the Wild Card winner at 7:30 p.m.

Hinch talks about the postseason

NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile (2-2-1 format)
In the first NLDS, the top division-winning seed in the NL, the Dodgers (104-58), get home-field advantage (Games 1, 2 and 5) over the winner of the NL Wild Card Game.

In the other NLDS, the division winner with the next-best regular-season record, the Nationals (97-65) have home-field against the next-seeded division winner, the Cubs (92-70). Both NLDS will begin on Friday on TBS with Cubs-Nationals at 7:30 p.m. ET and the Wild Card winner vs. the Dodgers at 10:30 p.m.

Nationals' chances with Harper

AL Championship Series presented by Camping World (2-3-2 format)
Home-field advantage in this best-of-seven series (Games 1-2 and 6-7) goes to the Division Series winner with the higher regular-season winning percentage, but never a Wild Card team. The ALCS is set to begin on Friday, Oct. 13 on FOX/FS1 (first-pitch time is TBA).

NL Championship Series presented by Camping World (2-3-2 format)
Just like in the ALCS, home-field advantage in this best-of-seven series (Games 1-2 and 6-7) goes to the Division Series winner with the higher regular-season winning percentage, but never a Wild Card team. The NLCS is set to begin on Saturday, Oct. 14 on TBS (first-pitch time is TBA).

World Series (2-3-2 format)
Home-field advantage in the World Series is no longer based on the result of the All-Star Game. Home field (Games 1-2 and 6-7) in this best-of-seven series will go to the team with the higher regular-season winning percentage, regardless of whether team is a Wild Card winner or a Division winner.

If the two pennant winners go into the Fall Classic with identical regular-season records, the first tiebreaker will be head-to-head record in the regular season. If the teams did not play during the season during Interleague Play, the tiebreaker would go to the team with the better overall record against teams in its own division. If that were also a tie, the tiebreaker would be intraleague records (the NL club's record vs. NL teams and the AL team's record vs. AL teams).

Trio of 100-win teams

Here are the World Series home-field advantage seedings:

1. Dodgers (104-58), hold tiebreaker over Indians
2. Indians (102-60)
3. Astros (101-61)
4. Nationals (97-65)
5. Red Sox (93-69), hold tiebreaker over Cubs but lose tiebreaker vs. D-backs
6. Cubs (92-70), lose tiebreakers vs. Red Sox and Yankees
7. D-backs (93-69), hold tiebreaker over Red Sox but lose tiebreaker vs. Yankees
8. Yankees (91-71), hold tiebreakers over Cubs and D-backs
9. Colorado (87-75)
10. Minnesota (85-77)

Must C: Red Sox clinch AL East

Here is a full breakdown of home-field advantage tiebreaker scenarios.

When does the World Series start?

Game 1 is set for Tuesday, Oct. 24, and if there is a Game 7, it will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 1. All games will be broadcast by FOX.

How do I watch?

Here's a handy guide:

AL Wild Card Game
Twins at Yankees, Tuesday on ESPN

NL Wild Card Game
Rockies at D-backs, Wednesday on TBS

Black on reaching postseason

AL Division Series
Red Sox vs. Astros, starting Thursday on MLB Network/FS1 (Games 4 and 5 on FS1)

AL Division Series
Wild Card Game winner vs. Indians, starting Thursday on MLB Network/FS1 (Games 4 and 5 on FS1)

NL Division Series
Cubs vs. Nationals, starting Friday on TBS

NL Division Series
Wild Card Game winner vs. Dodgers, starting Friday on TBS

AL Championship Series
ALDS winners, starting Friday, Oct. 13, on FOX/FS1

NL Championship Series
NLDS winners, starting Saturday, Oct. 14, on TBS

World Series
ALCS winner vs. NLCS winner, starting Tuesday, Oct. 24, on FOX

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.