Postseason watch: Bracket, tiebreakers, more

Septmber 30th 2022 1:37 AM EDT

The Wild Card races remain, well, wild.

The Blue Jays became the first Wild Card in the AL to clinch a spot, as Baltimore’s loss to Boston gave them a playoff berth. Despite not playing, they took a strong hold of the top seed in the AL Wild Card race. The Mariners reduced their magic number to 1 with a dramatic 11-inning victory over the Rangers. Both Tampa Bay and Seattle can clinch a postseason berth on Friday, with both needing a win or an Orioles loss to the Yankees.

In the NL, the Phillies lost their fifth straight game, as they continue to freefall. Their skid allowed the Brewers to briefly tie them for the final Wild Card slot, but the Crew couldn’t get the job done against the Marlins, keeping them a half-game back. The Padres lost to the Dodgers, but have an opportunity to clinch a spot this weekend.

While a lot can happen in the standings between now and when the postseason starts on Oct. 7, here is what the playoff picture looks like heading into Friday.

Reminder: As part of the new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association, Major League Baseball expanded the postseason field from 10 to 12 teams ahead of the 2022 season. Both the AL and NL now have three Wild Card berths (up from two), with the top two seeds in each league receiving first-round byes. The other teams will pair up for the best-of-three Wild Card Series, in which all three games will be played at the home of the higher seed, with winners advancing to the Division Series.

New MLB postseason format, explained
IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY:
AL Wild Card Series (starts Oct. 7)
Best-of-three format (all games at higher seed)
Rays (6) at Guardians (3)
Mariners (5) at Blue Jays (4)

Astros (1) and Yankees (2) have byes

NL Wild Card Series (Oct. 7)
Best-of-three format (all games at higher seed)
Phillies (6) at Cardinals (3)
Padres (5) at Braves (4)

Dodgers (1) and Mets (2) have byes

AL Division Series (starts Oct. 11)
Best-of-five format
Mariners/Blue Jays at Astros
Rays/Guardians at Yankees

NL Division Series (starts Oct. 11)
Best-of-five format
Padres/Braves at Dodgers
Phillies/Cardinals at Mets

Who has clinched: Dodgers, Astros, Mets, Braves, Yankees, Guardians, Cardinals and Blue Jays.

Who is next: The Mariners (85-70) and Rays (85-71) each have a magic number of 1 to clinch a postseason berth.

Key games from Thursday
Red Sox 5, Orioles 3
Cubs 2, Phillies 0
Guardians 2, Rays 1
Marlins 4, Brewers 2
Dodgers 5, Padres 2
Mariners 10, Rangers 9

Key games Friday
Phillies at Nationals, doubleheader at 1:05 p.m. ET and 7:05 p.m. ET
Orioles at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET
Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET
Mets at Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET
Rays at Astros, 8:10 p.m. ET
Marlins at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET
A’s at Mariners, 9:40 p.m. ET
White Sox at Padres, 9:40 p.m. ET

Tight races to watch and tiebreakers
NL East: Mets lead the Braves by 1 game. Mets currently lead the season series, 9-7, and will clinch the tiebreaker* by winning at least one of the three games against Atlanta this weekend.

AL Wild Card: Blue Jays lead Mariners by 2 games for first berth, Mariners lead Rays by 0.5 games for second berth, Rays lead Orioles by 5 games for third berth. The Orioles can be eliminated as early as Friday with one more loss and one more Mariners win.

Seeding battle: TB owns tiebreaker over TOR (10-9), SEA (5-2), BAL (10-9); SEA owns tiebreaker over TOR (5-2), BAL (4-2)

NL Wild Card: Padres lead Phillies by 2.5 games for second berth, Phillies lead Brewers by 0.5 games for third berth.

Seeding battle: PHI owns tiebreakers over SD (4-3), MIL (4-2); SD owns tiebreaker over MIL (4-3)

*Note: Under this new playoff system, no extra games will be played to break ties. All ties, including those for division titles and postseason berths, will be settled via a series of tiebreakers, the first of which is head-to-head record.

• How to determine playoff tiebreakers

Trending up: The Mets won for the seventh time in 10 games with their victory over the Marlins on Wednesday.

Trending down: The Phillies lost for the seventh time in their past 10 games and fifth straight with their 2-0 loss to the Cubs on Thursday.

CONTENDER BREAKDOWN

Clinched postseason berth: Dodgers, Astros, Mets, Braves, Yankees, Guardians, Cardinals
Almost there (90% postseason odds or better): Blue Jays, Rays, Mariners, Padres
In good shape (50-89% postseason odds): Phillies
In the mix (10-49% postseason odds): Brewers
Still alive (Postseason odds above 0%): N/A