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MLB postseason picture: After Cubs clinch division, here’s what's left to be decided

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor
·4-min read

We’ve reached the final day of Major League Baseball’s 60-game season and there’s a lot left to sort out. Below, we’ll tell you who’s in and who still has a chance to make MLB’s expanded postseason.

The Chicago Cubs are back on top in the NL Central.

In another case of rivals helping rivals, the Cubs clinched as a result of the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. It’s the Cubs third division championship since 2016 and their sixth since the NL Central was created in 1994.

Chicago nearly led the division wire-to-wire. They spent one day — July 25, the third day of the MLB season — in second place. They led the division by as many as 5.5 games in early September, but were forced to hold on tight following a 1-5 stretch earlier this week.

The Cubs will be the No. 3 seed in the National League playoffs. They will host a best-of-three wild card series at Wrigley Field beginning on Sept. 30. Their possible opponents include the Marlins, Reds and Cardinals.

The Chicago Cubs have clinched their first NL Central since 2017. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
The Chicago Cubs have clinched their first NL Central since 2017. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Undecided Races

AL CENTRAL: The Twins magic number to clinch the AL Central is one after beating the Reds Saturday night. Minnesota needs another win Sunday against Cincinnati or a White Sox loss to the Cubs to make it back-to-back division titles.

The White Sox can also clinch the AL Central on Sunday. Chicago needs a win AND a Twins loss. Chicago owns the tiebreaker over Minnesota based on their intradivision records, which is why the Twins must finish ahead in the final standings. The Indians were eliminated from the division race Saturday after losing to Pittsburgh.

NL WILD CARD: Four teams are still alive for the final two spots. One of those spots will go to the winner of Sunday’s Brewers-Cardinals game in St. Louis. The losing team is also still alive, but would need both the Giants and Phillies to lose to clinch Sunday.

• The Phillies (28-31) are in a must-win situation Sunday. If they win and the Brewers (29-30) and Giants (29-30) both lose, Philadelphia would have the three-way tiebreaker advantage based on division record.

• If the Giants win and the Brewers lose, the Giants get in. The Phillies result won’t matter.

• If the Brewers, Giants and Phillies all lose, the Brewers get in based on the intradivision tiebreaker advantage over the Giants.

And now, for the most chaotic scenario.

• If the Cardinals (29-28) lose and the Giants win, the Cardinals will have to play a make up doubleheader in Detroit on Monday to help decide the final spot.

AL EAST: We’re solely focusing on the second-place race here. The Yankees lead the Blue Jays by one game, but the Jays hold the tiebreaker in the event they finished the season even. The winner of this battle will be the No. 6 seed. The loser will drop to No. 8.

Seeding

NL: The top four seeds in the National League are locked in. The Dodgers will be the No. 1 seed and will have “home-field advantage” throughout the playoffs. Of course, that won’t mean quite as much if the Dodgers advance to the postseason bubble. The Braves, Cubs and Padres round out the top four in that order. All four teams will host their respective best-of-three Wild Card Series beginning Sept. 30.

AL: The Rays have clinched the AL’s best record. They will host the No. 8 seed, which could still be the Yankees or Blue Jays, in the Wild Card Series. The A’s, Twins and White Sox are still in contention for the No. 2 seed. At 29-30, the Astros are locked into the No. 6 despite having a worse record than the Indians, Yankees and Blue Jays.

Games to Watch

Brewers at Cardinals (3:15 p.m. ET) —This will be Sunday’s key game because it will decide one looming playoff spot. A Cardinals loss opens up the possibility of the season spilling over into Monday.

Reds at Twins (3:10 p.m. ET) — A Minnesota win makes things easy in the AL Central. The Reds already know they’re in, but win or lose there’s still potential for chaos in the NL seedings

Padres at Giants (3:05 p.m. ET) — The Giants can clinch with a win and Brewers loss, or create chaos with a win and Cardinals loss.

Cubs at White Sox (3:10 p.m. ET) — If Minnesota loses, all eyes will turn to Chicago.

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