The Dodgers have become the second team in baseball to clinch a playoff spot, marking the ninth straight year they will compete in the postseason. The defending champions now set their sights on catching the playoff-bound Giants for first place in the National League West, with the division winner advancing straight to the NLDS and avoiding the perils of a one-game Wild Card playoff game.
In the race for the second National League Wild Card slot, the Cardinals secured their fourth straight win while their closest competitors faltered once again; the Reds, Padres, and Phillies are each 3-7 in their past 10 games.
Meanwhile in the American League, wins by both the Yankees and Red Sox coupled with a tough loss by Toronto deadlocked both Wild Card positions between the three AL East clubs.
While a lot can happen in the standings between now and when the postseason starts on Oct. 5, here is what the playoff picture looks like heading into Wednesday.
Reminder: While Major League Baseball expanded the postseason field to 16 teams for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, there once again will be only 10 playoff teams in 2021. Both the AL and NL will have three division winners and two Wild Card teams, who will face off in a win-or-go-home Wild Card Game for the right to advance to the Division Series.
IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY:
AL Wild Card Game (Oct. 5)
Yankees/Blue Jays/Red Sox at Yankees/Blue Jays/Red Sox
NL Wild Card Game (Oct. 6)
Cardinals at Dodgers
AL Division Series (starts Oct. 7)
Wild Card Game winner at Rays
White Sox at Astros
NL Division Series (starts Oct. 8)
Wild Card Game winner at Giants
Braves at Brewers
WHO HAS CLINCHED: San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers
WHO IS NEXT: The Brewers are closing in on clinching the NL Central and currently have a magic number of five. The Rays could be first in line for a playoff berth in the American League as their magic number has dwindled down to six while the White Sox magic number to clinch a spot in the postseason sits at seven.
Tight races to watch
NL West: Giants lead Dodgers by 2 1/2 games
NL East: Braves lead Phillies by 4 1/2 games
ALDS Home Field:
The Astros lead the White Sox by one game for home field advantage in the ALDS. Houston owns the tiebreaker.
AL Wild Card:
Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox are in virtual tie for both spots, lead Mariners by three games and A’s by 3 1/2 games
NL Wild Card:
Cardinals lead the Reds by a half-game, the Padres by one game, the Phillies by three games and the Mets by four games
Trending up: The Cardinals are 6-1 in their past seven games thanks in part to a 2.35 team ERA which ranks third in baseball during that span.
Trending down: The Padres have dropped five in a row and now find themselves out of playoff position. San Diego’s schedule is doing them no favors as they end the season facing a trio of teams who are set to make the postseason in the Braves, Dodgers and Giants.
Clinched postseason berth: Dodgers, Giants
Almost there (90% postseason odds or better, per FanGraphs):
Brewers, Rays, White Sox, Astros, Braves
In good shape (50-89% postseason odds):
Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays
In the mix (10-49% postseason odds):
Reds, Cardinals, Padres, Phillies
Still alive (postseason odds above 1%):
Mets, Athletics, Mariners