It’s September, so the baseball games matter a little more. That’s why every day between now and the start of the postseason we’ll keep you updated on baseball’s postseason picture.
The NL wild-card race is what has kept this otherwise sorta ho-hum 2019 MLB postseason run interesting. Half the league was a wild-card contender at one point, but now the teams are starting to drop.
And Tuesday’s action could be fate-sealing for a few teams.
The Nationals can clinch a wild-card spot Tuesday if they sweep the Phillies in a doubleheader and the Cubs lose. Meanwhile, the Phillies and Mets could both be eliminated from wild-card contention Tuesday — all the Phillies need is one loss to the Nationals. Wouldn’t that be a tough way for Bryce Harper’s first year in Philly to end?
The D-backs were eliminated Monday night. By the end of the day, it could be down to three teams for two spots. With just a few days left in the regular season, closure is creeping in.
Here’s a look at where everything sits before Tuesday’s action, including a few games to watch and where all the magic numbers sit.
Magic Number Countdown
TWINS: The Minnesota Twins were idle Monday, so their magic number to clinch the AL Central is still three heading into a series against the Detroit Tigers.
CARDINALS: The Cardinals’ magic number is down to three after they beat (and eliminated) the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.
NATIONALS/BREWERS: The magic number for both teams to clinch a playoff is berth is three. The Brewers can still win the NL Central, where they’re 3.5 games behind the Cards, but it’s looking more unlikely by the day.
DODGERS: The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their seventh straight NL West title on Sept. 10.
YANKEES: The New York Yankees clinched their first AL East title since 2012 on Sept. 19.
BRAVES: The Atlanta Braves clinched their second straight NL East title on Sept. 20.
ASTROS: The Houston Astros joined the club Sunday, clinching their third consecutive AL West title with a win against the Angels.
NL WILD CARD: The Nats took a half-game lead on the top NL wild-card spot with their win over the Phillies. The Brewers were idle and get back into action Tuesday. The Cubs, Mets and Phillies are all technically alive still, but those doors are close to shutting. The Mets and Phillies could both be eliminated Tuesday.
AL WILD CARD: The Rays beat the Red Sox on Monday, which helped their wild-card prospects as the A’s and Indians had the day off. Now the Rays have a half-game lead for the second spot over Cleveland.
HOME FIELD: It’s a tight race for home-field — and all involved teams were off Monday. The Astros have the best record in MLB at 102-54, but the Yankees are just a half-game behind at 102-55. In the NL, the magic number for the Dodgers (99-56) to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs is three.
Games to Watch
• Phillies at Nationals (1:05 and 7:05 p.m. ET) —The Phillies and Nationals have a September doubleheader, which should prove fun. If the Nats win one, the Phillies are done. If the Nats win two, they could be celebrating for October (with a little help from the Cubs)
• Yankees at Rays (7:10 p.m. ET) — This is the only matchup of two potential playoff teams on the schedule. The Rays are trying for some wild-card separation with the Indians and the Yankees are trying some pitching experiments to get ready for the postseason — including CC Sabathia as a reliever.
• The Arizona Diamondbacks were officially eliminated from the NL wild-card race on Monday, leaving four more teams to go before the playoffs begin. Next up is the Phillies, whose elimination number is one. After that, the Mets’ elimination number is two.
• Teams whose postseason dreams are already over: Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox.
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