Exploring MLB’s Epic Playoff Race: 4 Weeks To Goby Carter LaCorte September 14, 2021 0 comments
We are not just in the home stretch of the 2021 MLB regular season. Rather, we are in the home stretch of the home stretch. While many divisions have been sorted out, the Wild Cards have not been. So, once a week for the remaining few that lie ahead, we will be looking at the race for October and who has the leverage.
The AL Wild Card Comes Down to … Five?
It would be quite a surprise if the American League division winners were not the Rays, White Sox, and Astros. But the two other playoff teams? There is room for chaos. The Blue Jays, hot as ever, currently hold the first spot, one game above the Red Sox and Yankees, who are tied for the second. So, a very good team will not only miss the playoffs but also finish fourth in the American League East and have to deal with that humiliation. The AL West’s Mariners and Athletics are also close, as they are two and two-and-a-half games out of a spot, respectively. The Mariners could gain significant ground on Boston if they can complete their current series sweep. They took Game 1 on Monday.
The Red Sox play six more against the Orioles and two against the Mets. However, their season could easily come down to a three-game set against the Yankees. New York has nine games left against Toronto, Boston, and Tampa Bay. They better make use of their current nine against Baltimore, Cleveland, and Texas. The A’s and Mariners should not be forgotten, either, since they have seven games left against each other. If one team takes at least five of those, they could easily make it in.
Cardinals Pulling Close
The debate for the second Wild Card in the National League has been between the Padres and Reds for most of the last month. But after yet another great start by Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals are right there. All three teams are sitting on a nice 69 wins at the moment, but Cincinnati has one extra win in the books. At 2.5 games back, the Phillies are not completely out of it, either.
The Reds have a favorable schedule with six against the Pirates and four against Washington. However, they do play five games combined against the Dodgers and White Sox, the former being a potential Wild Card preview. The Cardinals have a tougher road ahead: six games against the eventual division-winning Brewers and two against the hungry Mets. They do have four versus the Cubs, but what will be important are the three against San Diego. Unless the Reds take it outright, that series could very well decide the playoff picture. The bad news for the Padres is that the Cardinals will be the worst team that they face again this year. The others are the Giants, Dodgers, and Braves.
Atlanta Looks To Hold On
While both the Phillies and the Mets (3.5 games back) could win that Wild Card spot, they also have a chance to catch the Braves in the NL East, which houses the tightest of the division races. As of now, Atlanta seems to have it locked up, sitting 4.5 games up on Philadelphia and 5.5 on New York. The Braves and Phillies close out the year with a three-game series. Philadelphia’s goal has to be to get within three games back by then.
It won’t be easy with the Braves playing the Rockies or Diamondbacks six times. However, the Phillies have some help of their own. They play ten against the Orioles, Pirates, and Cubs. If they take care of that and win at least four of their six against the Braves and Mets, they are looking good. The chaotic Mets do play the Marlins … but also the Brewers, Phillies, Cardinals, and Red Sox. It is looking hard for them to make it unless some Wild Card magic appears.
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