One Final Week - MLB Teams Push For the Postseason
Brace yourselves… October baseball is almost here!
However, there are a number of postseason spots still up for grabs and the final week of the 2021 MLB Season will be the deciding factor to determine the final teams who will be dancing in October.
As of Monday, Sept. 27, the following teams have already clinched a playoff spot: Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox. Only the Brewers and the White Sox have officially claimed their respective division titles.
With only five teams officially in, that means there are still five spots up for grabs since the MLB allots a total of 10 playoff spots. So, without further ado, let’s break down each division, including the wild card spots.
American League East
As many of us expected, this was going to be one of the best divisions in baseball. That has surely been the case. The Tampa Rays (97-59) have already locked up the division for the second straight season and are close to clinching home-field advantage in the American League. Unless they lose out, that should end up being the case. Meanwhile, New York (89-67), Boston (88-68) and Toronto (87-69) are all very much alive in the wild card race, which we will break down later in this article.
American League Central
The White Sox (89-68) have locked up this division for the first time since 2008, and will be the only team representing the American League Central in the 2021 MLB postseason.
American League West
Seattle (86-70) has been hot since after the trade deadline in late July, but it appears to be a bit too late in stealing the AL West title from Houston (91-65), who leads the division by five games with just six games remaining.
National League East
This is one of just two divisions still up for grabs, and it doesn’t seem like anybody wants to win it. Currently, with six games to play in the regular season, Atlanta (83-72) has a 2.5 game lead over Philadelphia (81-75). But the teams meet for a pivotal three-game series in Atlanta beginning on Tuesday, which will serve as a do-or-die situation for the Phillies, who are fighting to make the postseason for the first time since 2011 (the longest current drought in the National League).
With CY Young Award candidate Zach Wheeler set to start game one, Aaron Nola in game two and Bryce Harper being the current front-runner for NL MVP, there is still some hope for the City of Brotherly Love. A sweep puts them alone in first place, and then they would need to take care of business in Miami for the final three games.
Atlanta, on the other hand, can win MLB’s worst division by simply winning two out of three in the series. If needed, Atlanta can still clinch with a series win against the Mets and a Phillies series loss in Miami, which is something that has happened far too many times.
One of these two average ball clubs will end up prevailing in this division, and it could possibly be the team that has blown 34 saves throughout the season. If Atlanta prevails, it would be their fourth straight NL East title.
National League Central
It is pretty impressive that St. Louis has won 16 consecutive games, but they waited a tad too long to begin their surge. Milwaukee (94-62) has already clinched this division, but on the bright side, St. Louis is all but guaranteed the second wild card spot. Milwaukee may have won this division, but if the Cardinals can get past the wild card game, then they may have a better chance at reaching the Fall Classic.
National League West
It’s necessary that we saved the best for last. For the eleventh time in MLB history, there will be a 100-win second place team. But who that team will end up being is still up in the air.
With just six games remaining, San Francisco (102-54) is in a solid position to win its first NL West title since 2012 – the same year they went on to win the World Series. San Francisco leads Los Angeles (100-56) by two games. In addition, their final six games are at home – and three of those games are against the second worst team in baseball in Arizona.The other three games are against the Padres, who have struggled mightily during the month of September, which has ended up costing them a spot in the postseason.
The Dodgers also have their final six games at home, and have those struggling Padres for three games, followed by the Milwaukee Brewers, who may rest their starters due to having nothing else to play for regarding seeding purposes.
MLB’s best division can end up going either way for sure, and we can’t wait to see which teams prevails in one of the best divisions of all-time.
American League Wild Card
This is another exciting race, considering there are still a whopping five teams that are still very much alive.
As of Monday, New York (89-67) has the edge in the top spot, while Boston (88-68) is leading the second spot. Toronto (87-69) only trails Boston by one game, and has played some great baseball in the past two months. Seattle (86-70), also a hot team, trails Boston by two games. Oakland (85-71) trails them by three games.
The interesting thing is that the Blue Jays and Yankees are set for a highly anticipated three-game series in Toronto, which could decide which team gets one of the spots. If one of these two teams complete the sweep, then the other team’s season will be in jeopardy heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
Boston, meanwhile, faces Baltimore and Washington in its final six games and it’s hard to picture them not winning at least five out of those six games. At that point, they would secure a spot in one of the two wild card spots.
Though not officially eliminated, Seattle and Oakland will need close to a miracle to reach the postseason. Seattle fans may have to wait until at least 2022 to see their team end their 20-year postseason drought – the longest in baseball currently.
National League Wild Card
Well, this is an easy one. The top wild card spot will belong to the runner-up in the NL West -- and the St. Louis Cardinals, who are enjoying a 16-game winning streak, are close to officially locking up the second spot.
1. Tampa Rays
2. Houston Astros
3. Chicago White Sox
4. New York Yankees
5. Boston Red Sox
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. St. Louis Cardinals