With the final weekend of the Major League Baseball season upon us, the Wild Card teams are all but decided.
In the National League, the Pittsburgh Pirates, making their first post season appearance in 21 years, hold the top spot by two games over their Central Division rivals, the Cincinnati Reds. The NL Central will be the only division sending three teams to the playoffs this year. The Pirates and Reds play their last two games against each other, so there could potentially be a switch between the two for who will host the one-game playoff if the Reds are able to win both games over the weekend.
In the American League, the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays are tied with identical 90-70 records. The Texas Rangers are currently one game behind them. The Indians will be in Minnesota over the weekend, where they will send Scott Kazmir (9-9, 4.14 ERA) against Cole De Vries (0-1, 11.70 ERA) on Saturday and Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9, 3.38 ERA) against Scott Diamond (6-12, 5.54 ERA) on Sunday.
Tampa Bay is in Toronto where they will send Chris Archer (9-7, 3.21 ERA) out to face J.A. Happ (4-7, 4.85 ERA) on Saturday and Matt Moore (16-4, 3.23 ERA) against Todd Redmond (4-2, 3.77 ERA) on Sunday. The Rangers are the lone home team of the three over the weekend, as they send Derek Holland (10-9, 3.33 ERA) against Garrett Richards (7-7, 4.09 ERA) on Saturday and Yu Darvish (13-9, 2.82 ERA) against Jason Vargas (9-7, 2.82 ERA) on Sunday. Texas will need some from the Blue Jays and/or the Twins to make the playoff game.
In the possible event that all 3 teams in the American League end Sunday with identical records, Major League Baseball announced a tiebreaker procedure earlier today. Get ready for this.
First, the Indians would host the Rays on Monday, with the winner taking the first Wild Card spot. The loser would travel to Texas on Tuesday to face the Rangers in a win-or-go-home game for the second spot in Wednesday’s American League Wild Card game.
The reason for that schedule is this:
The Indians have a 7-5 combined record against the Rays and Rangers, earning them the right to host on Monday night. The Rays are second with a 7-6 combined record against the Indians and Rangers, and chose to go play on the road Monday night rather than host the must-win game on Tuesday. The Rangers were left only with hosting the Tuesday night game as their 5-8 combined record against the Indians and Rays is the worst of the three teams.
If only one playoff game for the second Wild Card spot is needed, it will be played Monday night and hosted by the team with the best head-to-head record. There are other tiebreaking rules, but none of them will be necessary in this case.
Hopefully this cleared up the possible scenarios. It would be great to see a three-way tie. More baseball is always better.