MLB playoff-race heating up
It’s been a memorable season in the MLB so far and more drama is to be expected entering the final week of the regular season. The Wild Card race is red hot, as Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees and Houston Astros have clinched their division and St. Louis Cardinals have taken a certain playoff-spot.
The American League’s central division is still an open race, although Minnesota Twins hold a four win advantage to Cleveland Indians, with six games remaining for both teams. The Tribe might be in for some hard times, as they travel first to visit Chicago White Sox in a three-game series and then finish off the regular season at Washington with the Nationals – who are likely to go to playoffs but not certain yet. Division leading Twins head out as well, but their schedule up ahead looks a lot easier with three and three series against Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals, both far and out of playoff hopes. That being said, even if Cleveland are likely to miss out on the division top spot, they’re still very much into contest for the Wild Card spot.
In Accuscore simulations, the Twins hold on to their lead and win the division with 98.78% probability while making the playoffs with 99.99%. The scenario where they miss out is so far out, it’s not worth thinking about; the Indians rise above Twins with that remaining 0.13% chance.
The other two candidates for American League Wild Card game are Tampa Bay Rays from the East and Oakland Athletics from the West. The Rays stand at 93 wins, while Oakland is one up with 94 – Cleveland trailing at 92. Tampa Bay, however, has only five games left, with the other two going six more.
The road ahead for Rays looks fairly easy, regardless of them facing the already clinched Yankees twice at home. The last three games are away against Toronto Blue Jays, who’ve lost all hope long time ago and if it comes down to those games, the Rays simply have to prevail.
The A’s have it quite nicely set up as well. Although having to hit the road for the final six games, they’re facing the neighboring Angels twice and Seattle Mariners four times. Neither of the opponents have anything to play for, so it’s all in their own hands.
In Accuscore simulations, Oakland is the most likely team headed to the post season with 95.48% probability. Fighting for the other spot are Rays with 58.84% and the Indians with 44.84%. Needless to say the battle will be intense and it’ll be worthwhile to follow these teams up, close and personal.
In the National League there’s still a tiny bit of excitement left, as four teams still possess theoretical chances of grabbing the Wild Card seat. Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers stand at 86 wins, with Nationals one game in hand against all other competitors. The outside chances still remain for Chicago Cubs at 82 wins and New York Mets with 81. All but Nationals have six games to go.
The Wild Card places are for the Nationals and Brewers to lose: both need three wins to clinch the playoff berth, regardless of what the other teams do. The Cubs and the Mets need at least four and five wins to match, so it’s highly likely the top due will get some help on the way.
Nationals are facing Philadelphia Phillies four times at home, after hosting Cleveland Indians for another 3. Indians are likely to be still battling for their place in the sun at that time. The road is not that easy, but snatching three wins out of seven is the least a Wild Card team should be able to do at this point.
Brewer’s need to take those wins on the road, as they’re visiting Cincinnati and Colorado for three each. While the teams are out of contest, there’s something motivating to shoot down the playoff hopes of a divisional rival. While Brewers are likely to get those needed wins, or get enough assistance from elsewhere, it’ll be an intriguing battle to follow.
The outsiders Cubs and Mets do need something of a miracle to make it to the playoffs, but strange things happen all the time. The Mets are by far the longest shot: they need to win every remaining game with the top dogs winning maximum of one to force a tie-breaker. Not likely, but we have to entertain all theoretical possibilities. Mets can prolong their hopes in their three game home stand against Miami Marlins, but the last three are against Atlanta Braves, who have clinched their spot but probably want to end the regular season on a high note.
The Cubs have it marginally easier, with one more win compared to Mets – but then the schedule makes it worse. Facing Pittsburgh Pirates away for three games is not the problem, but going to St. Louis to visit Cardinals to finish off the season in a make-or-break series will be too much of a challenge. Cardinals are still in contest of winning the division and avoiding the Wild Card game altogether, so there’s no easy pickings there.
According to Accuscore simulations, all that speculation in useless. Washington Nationals will head to playoffs with 99.54% probability, followed by 96.75% probable Brewers. Cubs stand a nominal chance with 3% but the Mets are out altogether – as expected.
Accuscore’s MLB simulations and prediction can be found here and the season forecast featuring the playoff-probabilities will be updated daily.
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