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A Look at the American League Playoff Picture

We are eleven days out from the MLB playoffs and last night things began to shape in the American League, as the Chicago White Sox clinched a playoff spot in their win against the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched a spot sweeping their double header against The Baltimore Orioles. This year the playoffs look a little bit different for MLB, though, as it’s the first year under a (hopefully short lived) new playoff format that sees eight teams from each league making postseason play.

This year, the entire formula has changed. No more is the one game win or go home that in so many years past has seen many upsets and exhilarating audiences.

Highlights of last year’s AL Wild Card game.

This year, it’ll be a round. Each series will three game set at the home park of the top seed in the wildcard game. There will be four overall wild-card series in each league.

They then will play through as usual from there with the division series. For the American League, it’ll be performed at neutral national league parks Dodger Stadium and Petco Park. The LCS will be in San Diego, with the World Series being played in Arlington at the Rangers ballpark.

This year, the top two teams in each division automatically make postseason play, and then the two best records among non-top two teams are also in. In current standings, the AL Playoff Picture looks as if the following:

  1. Chicago White Sox, 33-17.*
  2. Tampa Bay Rays, 33-18.*
  3. Oakland Athletics, 31-19.
  4. Minnesota Twins, 31-21.
  5. New York Yankees, 29-21.
  6. Houston Astros, 25-25.
  7. Cleveland Indians, 27-23.
  8. Toronto Blue Jays, 26-23.

*Clinched playoff spot but not division.

On the outside looking in, the Seattle Mariners are 22-28, while the Orioles are 22-29 and Tigers 21-28. All three are still within striking distance but it’ll likely be between the aforementioned eight.

The Rays magic number for the division is seven, so any combination of Rays wins and Yankees losses that add up to seven. After going 7-2 against the Bronx Bombers in the regular season, they win the division if their records are tied at season end. The Rays have three more games in Baltimore, three games in Queens against the Mets and their final three games at The Trop against Philadelphia. For the Yankees, they have a three game set at Fenway, three game set in Buffalo against the Blue Jays and three games at home against the Marlins. Seeing as their lead against the Jays is only three and a half games, they haven’t locked up that second place spot just yet either. For the Blue Jays outside of the Yankees, they have a four game set starting today against DiDi Gregorious and the Philadelphia Phillies. They finish at home against the Orioles.

The Central Division’s magic number is also seven for the Edwin Encarnacion-led White Sox. Edwin, who played in the playoffs with three of the other American League teams in the picture (Blue Jays, Indians, Yankees), looks to finally get the ring that’s eluded him. They play two of his former teams, the Reds and Indians,over their next six and then close out their season against the postseason bound Northside rival Cubs. The Twins, however, play the Cubs over the next three days and the Reds the final three days. In between, they play the Detroit Tigers for a two game set. To wrap up the Central, the Indians will be playing the Tigers, White Sox and Pirates.

Two is the magic number for the Athletics to clinch postseason berth, while the division is only a mere four. In the first year since their cheating scandal, the Astros have not performed up to expectation. Tonight, former AL Cy Young Zack Greinke takes the mound against his former club, the Arizona Diamondbacks for the Astros. They also have a series against Seattle, that if goes south, could switch them in the playoff picture. They close out with a four game set against Texas. For the Athletics, it’s not easy. If they season ended today, the Giants would be in the postseason and that’s who they play this weekend. After that, it’s NL West Champions LA Dodgers. Then four against the Mariners.

Do you like how the AL Postseason Picture is shaping up? Tweet me your thoughts @TheJameus.

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About the author

Jameus Mooney