Is there anything more exciting than October baseball? The drama, the storylines, and the unsung heroes make for non-stop must-see action. October baseball is the sport in its truest form, with every inning, pitch, at bat, and decision deciding a chess match of skill and strategy on the diamond.
With only a dozen or so games remaining in the regular season and the division winners primarily set, minus small outside chances for the Brewers and Yankees, we look to the remaining drama of who will get to play for the AL and NL wildcard matchups as our focus.
American League Wildcard: Two Teams For One Spot And A Bunch of Hopes and Dreams
The AL Wildcard game is the first game on the playoff slate scheduled for October 3rd. Barring a complete meltdown, whoever loses the AL East division race between the Red Sox (+395 to win AL Pennant) and the Yankees (+430 for AL Pennant) slots in the first AL Wildcard spot.
The Yankees currently lead by 5 games with 12 to play and would need an epic choke job to miss out on the postseason. The remaining spot is currently held by the Minnesota Twins (+2500 to win AL) with a 1.5 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels (+3850 to win AL) with the Angels having a game in hand.
Advantage goes to Twins here as people have been waiting for them to falter all year and they have just continued to hang around. The schedule lines up nicely for them as they close out with 7 of remaining 12 games against the doormats from Detroit. Angels, on the other hand, face the division-leading Indians and Astros for 6 of their remaining 13 games.
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A host of teams including the Mariners, Rangers, Royals, Rays, and Orioles sit from 4-6 games out of the last spot but would need a Cleveland Indians type run to have a shot to sneak into the final spot. This is my hopes and dreams portion of the race because that's basically what they are left with at this point, which is better than what this Braves fan is left holding. Maybe next year.
National League Wildcard: Whose Going To The Dessert
Barring catastrophe, the Arizona Diamondbacks (+545 to win NL Pennant) are getting the first NL Wildcard spot. Who they will face comes down to fellow division mate the Colorado Rockies (+1700 to win NL) and Milwaukee Brewers (+3500 to win NL). The Cardinals are also hanging around with a "chip and a chair" mentality as they will need some divine intervention to come back from 4.5 games with 13 remaining.
The Rockies currently lead by 2 games with both teams having 12 games remaining on the schedule. Both teams are playing good ball down the stretch as Colorado is 7-3 in their last ten while the Brewers are on fire at 8-2 in their last 10.
Schedule-wise advantage probably goes to the Rockies who close with their final 6 games at home including a season-ending series with the Dodgers, who may be worrying more about resting players and setting up rotations for playoffs than winning games versus the Rockies. They start their trek on the road with 6 versus the bottom of the NL West standings in the Giants and Padres.
The Brewers get 4 games in the middle of their stretch with the Cubs who they still sort of are chasing for the division, so look for Chicago to go for a knockout punch. They close with 3 in St. Louis, who will probably be mathematically eliminated by that point, so who knows what you get from that team.
After a long (some say too long) baseball season we are finally rounding down to the important part. Get your wagers locked and loaded as baseball is finally going to mean something.