There are two weeks left in the regular season, and the hunt for the postseason is heating up.
The wild-card races remain tight, and the Cubs stepped up at the right time to keep themselves in the picture. Chicago swept the Pirates in a four-game series last weekend to retain its hold on the second National League wild-card spot.
In the American League, the Athletics are still one game ahead of the Rays in the wild-card standings. Tampa Bay faces a critical eight-game stretch against the Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees that could make or break their playoff chances.
As the end of September inches closer, who will be next to earn a playoff berth?
American League Playoff Picture:
The Yankees and Astros (98–53) are tied for the best record in baseball, but Houston currently holds the top seed in the AL.
While New York and Houston have a lock on the AL East and West divisions, the Central division title winner is still in question as the Indians narrowed their gap behind the Twins. Cleveland gained ground in the division standings by beating the Twins 7–5 on Sunday to sit one game back. The Indians are also only 1 1/2 games behind the Rays for the second wild card.
National League Playoff Picture:
The NL Central is also a tight race, as the Cubs only sit two games back from the division-leading Cardinals. The Nationals lead Chicago by a half game in the wild-card standings, and the Brewers trail the Cubbies by one game.
The Mets and Phillies had rough weekends and fell five games behind the Brewers to reduce their chances of reaching a postseason spot. New York lost two games to the Dodgers, who clinched home-field advantage in the NL Division Series over the weekend. The Dodgers won their seventh consecutive NL West division title last week.
While the Braves have yet to clinch the NL East title, they earned a postseason berth with a 10–1 win over the Nationals on Saturday.
Here's a look at the current division leaders and wild card standings (as of September 17):
• AL East: Yankees (98–53)
• AL Central: Twins (92–58)
• AL West: Astros (98–53)
AL Wild Card:
1. Athletics (90–61)
2. Rays (89–62)
• NL East: Braves (93–58); clinched playoff berth
• NL Central: Cardinals (84–66)
• NL West: Dodgers (97–54); clinched division
NL Wild Card:
1. Nationals (82–67)
2. Cubs (82–68)
*The two wild card teams in each league will play each other in a single-elimination game at the conclusion of the regular season. The winners advance to face the No. 1 seed in the Division Series.
Projected Playoff Matchups:
American League Division Series:
• Astros vs. wild card winner
• Yankees vs. Twins
National League Division Series:
• Dodgers vs. wild card winner
• Braves vs. Cardinals