Wondering which teams will be playing in the 2021 MLB playoffs heading into the final days of the regular season? Well, we’re about to find out.
With the final stretch of the season in full swing, teams are getting ready to clinch postseason berths — whether it’s a division crown and a straight ride to the division series, or one of two wild-card spots to face single-game elimination play. Either way, pride — and home-field advantage — is at stake.
While most teams have their divisions locked down, the American League wild-card race is wide open and will likely come down to the final weekend of the regular season, which ends Sunday. Or we could have some bonus baseball on Monday if there are tiebreakers to be played heading into the postseason.
Below, we take a look at the latest in the playoff races in both the American League and National League, starting with who has clinched a postseason spot, who can clinch next and upcoming series to watch. (Check back each day as we continue to update the playoff picture.)
AL wild-card standings and scenarios
With four days left in the regular season, there are still four teams vying for the two American League spots. Here is where things stand and what is next for each of the contenders.
New York Yankees: 91-68 (current WC 1)
Boston Red Sox: 89-70 (tie – current WC 2)
Seattle Mariners: 89-70 (tie – current WC 2)
Toronto Blue Jays: 88-71 (1 game behind Boston and Seattle)
The state of each contender
Yankees (3 vs. Tampa Bay): New York entered Thursday’s finale with the Blue Jays in control of its wild-card destiny. The Yankees extended their AL wild-card lead with a 6-3 win, and if they win out, they would host the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday regardless of what the remaining contenders do.
Playoff odds (according to FanGraphs): 96.7%
Red Sox (3 at Washington): After snapping a four-game losing streak with a Wednesday victory in Baltimore, Boston lost the series finale on Thursday night. The Red Sox are tied with the Mariners for the second wild-card spot and, likely, a date with the Yankees.
Playoff odds: 60.2%
Mariners (3 vs. Angels): Seattle carries a four-game winning streak into a three-game series versus the Angels at home. The Mariners moved into a tie for the second wild-card spot after the Red Sox lost on Thursday night.
Playoff odds: 29.6%
Blue Jays (3 vs. Baltimore): After Thursday’s loss to New York, things should get easier for Toronto as AL-worst Baltimore visits Rogers Centre with little to play for this weekend.
Playoff odds: 13.5%
Jeff Passan provided a full breakdown of the final-week tiebreaker scenarios. Simply put:
+ If two teams finish with the two best records with no ties, they will meet Tuesday at the first wild card’s ballpark.
+ If two teams finish tied atop the wild-card standings, the team with the best head-to-head record will host Tuesday’s wild-card game.
+ If three or more teams (yes, a four-team tie is still in play) finish 162 games with the same record, there will be tiebreaker games played starting Monday to determine who faces off in the wild-card matchup.
Who has already clinched a playoff spot?
Baseball’s two best teams are officially in. The San Francisco Giants clinched at least a wild-card spot with a 9-1 win over the Padres on Sept. 13. The Giants are still locked in a battle with the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the National League West, but the teams with the top two records in Major League Baseball so far this season are both assured a playoff spot, as the Dodgers clinched their own berth with an 8-4 win over the D-backs the next day. The only question: Which team will go straight to the division series and which one will face a wild-card elimination game?
The Tampa Bay Rays clinched their third straight playoff spot with a 7-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 22. Tampa Bay later clinched the AL East crown with a 7-3 win over the Marlins on Sept. 25 and holds the AL’s best record.
St. Louis’ 17th straight win — a 6-2 victory against Milwaukee on Sept. 28 — secured the team’s third straight playoff appearance. The Cardinals’ winning streak — which was finally snapped Wednesday night in a 4-0 loss to the Brewers — was the longest by a National League team since the 1935 Cubs won 21 straight.
The Atlanta Braves clinched their fourth straight NL East title with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 30. They spent 126 days without a winning record, the fourth-most by a division winner since 1969, and the most since the 1989 Blue Jays.
If the season ended today …
Here’s what the playoff field would look like if the season ended today (tiebreakers excluded):
East champ: Tampa Bay Rays x
Central champ: Chicago White Sox x
West champ: Houston Astros x
First wild card: New York Yankees
Second wild card: Boston Red Sox/Seattle Mariners
East champ: Atlanta Braves x
Central champ: Milwaukee Brewers x
West champ: San Francisco Giants z
First wild card: Los Angeles Dodgers z
Second wild card: St. Louis Cardinals y
x – clinched division title
y – clinched wild card
z – clinched playoff berth
Wild-card round (single-game elimination)
AL: Tuesday, Oct. 5
NL: Wednesday, Oct. 6
Division series (best of five)
ALDS A & B
Game 1: Thursday, Oct. 7
Game 2: Friday, Oct. 8
Game 3: Sunday, Oct. 10
Game 4: Monday, Oct. 11*
Game 5: Wednesday, Oct. 13*
NLDS A & B
Game 1: Friday, Oct. 8
Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 9
Game 3: Monday, Oct. 11
Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 12*
Game 5: Thursday, Oct. 14*
Championship series (best of seven)
Game 1: Friday, Oct. 15
Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 16
Game 3: Monday, Oct. 18
Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 19
Game 5: Wednesday, Oct. 20*
Game 6: Friday, Oct. 22*
Game 7: Saturday, Oct. 23*
Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 16
Game 2: Sunday, Oct. 17
Game 3: Tuesday, Oct. 19
Game 4: Wednesday, Oct. 20
Game 5: Thursday, Oct. 21*
Game 6: Saturday, Oct. 23*
Game 7: Sunday, Oct. 24*
World Series (best of seven)
Game 1: Tuesday, Oct. 26
Game 2: Wednesday, Oct. 27
Game 3: Friday, Oct. 29
Game 4: Saturday, Oct. 30
Game 5: Sunday, Oct. 31*
Game 6: Tuesday, Nov. 2*
Game 7: Wednesday, Nov. 3*
* If necessary