After Wednesday, there will still be four full days of baseball before the season’s over, but in the American League they might not matter for much other than seeding. Both the Astros and Blue Jays could clinch the final two playoff spots today as the magic number for each team is at two or less.
After beating the Mariners on Tuesday night, the Astros’ magic number for second place in the West is 1. They play Seattle again today, and a win today would not only seal Houston’s spot but help Toronto as well. Toronto needs a win and losses from Seattle and Los Angeles to clinch the second Wild Card spot today.
Expanding the playoffs shouldn’t have made it this easy for eight teams to clinch a spot so early. In the NL, the scrum for the Wild Card is still going strong. The Reds, Brewers, and Giants each have equal winning percentages (.500) and occupy the seventh, eighth, and ninth spots in the league standings. The Phillies were in the race Tuesday morning, but after getting swept in a doubleheader, their elimination number is at one.
In the AL, there’s a lot of separation between the teams at the top and the teams at the bottom. Or in this case, the teams in the middle and the teams and the bottom. Miraculously, no AL failed to win at least 20 games. Only the Pirates will bear that mark. But as a whole, the league failed to offer a playoff chase that was at least as exciting as three .500 teams scrambling for scraps.
Eno Sarris | The Athletic $: Last week, QOP announced they had received a patent on a pitch quality metric. This move is antithetical to the way baseball research has operated for decades. Is this a sign of changing times or just two dudes being weird jerks?
Craig Edwards | FanGraphs: The AL playoff chase was a dud, but the MVP race is a battle royale. The season hasn’t been long enough for anyone to truly separate themselves statistically, so voting could just come down to philosophy.
Craig Goldstein | Baseball Prospectus $: The season’s almost over, so Craig Goldstein investigated how the three-batter minimum impacted the game.