MLB playoff picture takes shape during stretch run originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
While some races for postseason spots are pretty much wrapped up, there is plenty of intrigue remaining as the MLB playoff picture takes shape.
There are several races that are worthy of attention, including a pair of divisional races, as the National League Central remains tight between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers. The two clubs enter Thursday’s action separated by 1.5 games.
The National League Wild Card race is also tightening up, with the Phillies and Cubs comfortably ahead, but with the Marlins, Diamondbacks and Reds all separated by just one-half game for the final spot.
Here is a full breakdown of where we are entering Thursday.
Here is where the Central Division currently stands:
Cubs: 76-64 (1.5 GB)
Reds: 73-69 (5.5 GB)
The Cubs have played one more game than the Brewers at this point in the season, but they do have three games left against Milwaukee to wrap up the regular season, so the division race is still very-much open.
A couple other notes:
-The Braves’ magic number to clinch the NL East is currently at just 11, as they have a staggering 90-48 record.
-The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the NL West is also at 11, with a 13-game lead on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Here are the Wild Card Standings:
Diamondbacks: 72-68 (0.5 GB)
Reds: 73-69 (0.5 GB)
Giants: 70-70 (2.5 GB)
The Cubs’ sweep of the Giants really put Chicago’s playoff hopes into high gear, as they now hold a four-game lead over the Diamondbacks and Reds entering their weekend series with Arizona.
As for the Giants, they’re now in need of a bounce-back after the sweep, and they’ll have to jump over three teams that are now separated by just one-half game.
-The Baltimore Orioles still have a 3.5 game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays in the East, and also have the best record in the American League by the same margin. The Houston Astros also have a one-game lead in the American League West, and it would appear the winners of those two divisions will receive byes into the Division Series.
-The Astros only have a one-game lead on the Seattle Mariners and they are three games ahead of the Texas Rangers as the AL West race will potentially come down to the end of the season.
-The wild card race is likely a three-team race at this point. The Rays have a 6.5-game lead on the Mariners for the top wild card spot, while the Mariners hold a 1.5-game edge over the Blue Jays.
Toronto is just one-half game ahead of the Rangers, with the two other wild card clubs likely coming from that group. The Red Sox are currently five games back.