Postseason watch: Drama in the AL East

6:05 AM UTC

While the hunt for the National League Wild Card remained deadlocked, Sunday saw a dramatic shift in the American League Wild Card standings. The Red Sox and Blue Jays are now tied for the final two playoff spots in the AL Wild Card, while Yankees are now on the outside looking in following a 7-6 defeat to the Mets on Sunday Night Baseball.

Toronto continued their recent surge with a 22-7 drubbing of the Orioles while Boston rallied late before falling on a walk-off home run as part of a 2-1 loss to the White Sox. Both the Athletics and Mariners squandered an opportunity to make up valuable ground against their Wild Card rivals as both teams dropped series finales to the Rangers and D-backs, respectively.

Meanwhile in the NL, the Reds and Padres each lost again on Sunday and remain tied for the NL’s final playoff spot. By beating the Reds 2-0 on Sunday, the Cardinals are now just one game back of tying Cincinnati and San Diego for the No. 5 seed. And while the Phillies were unable to gain any ground, the Mets’ defeat of their crosstown rivals Sunday put them just three games back in what is officially now a five-team race.

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 Monday.

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.

AL Wild Card Game (Oct. 5)

Red Sox at Blue Jays

NL Wild Card Game (Oct. 6)
Reds/Padres at Dodgers

AL Division Series (starts Oct. 7)
Best-of-five format
Wild Card Game winner at Rays
White Sox at Astros

NL Division Series (starts Oct. 8)
Best-of-five format
Wild Card Game winner at Giants
Braves at Brewers

WHO IS NEXT: The Giants have a magic number of one, meaning they control their own destiny and would become the first team to clinch a postseason berth with a win on Monday. The Dodgers (three) aren’t far behind. In terms of a division title, the Brewers have a magic number of five to clinch the NL Central.

Tight races to watch
NL West: Giants lead Dodgers by 2 1/2 games
NL East: Braves lead Phillies by 4 1/2 games and Mets by five games
AL Wild Card:
Blue Jays and Red Sox are in virtual tie for final two spots, lead Yankees by one game as well as A’s and Mariners by three games
NL Wild Card:
Reds and Padres are in virtual tie for final spot. Cardinals trail by one game, Phillies by 2 1/2 games and Mets by three games

Trending up: The Blue Jays are 9-1 in their last 10 games and have scored 106 — yes, 106 — runs across their 12 games this month.

Trending down: The Yankees are just 2-8 in their last 10 games thanks in part to a 5.00 team ERA this month. The Yanks have allowed a league-high 53 walks through 11 games this month as well as 21 home runs, which is tied for the second most surrendered across MLB in September.

Clinched postseason berth:
Almost there (90% postseason odds or better, per FanGraphs):
Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Rays, White Sox, Astros
In good shape (50-89% postseason odds):
Braves, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees
In the mix (10-49% postseason odds):
Reds, Padres, Phillies, Cardinals
Still alive (postseason odds above 1%):
Mets, Athletics, Mariners

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