With the postseason around the corner, many MLB teams are fighting for a spot in the playoffs. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league previously announced a new postseason format – in a “Postseason Watch” article recently published on the MLB website, the format was summarized as, “… eight teams in each league. The top two teams in each division qualify, and the two teams with the next-best records in each league make it as Wild Cards. All ties will be resolved mathematically, without tiebreaker games” (https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-playoff-picture). The LA Dodgers became the first team to clinch a spot in the postseason earlier in the week and the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox followed them a day later. Not all teams are lucky enough to have players like Jose Abreu or Mookie Betts completely dominating at bat, but they’re still making valiant efforts to secure their spots.
Other teams, like the Chicago Cubs in the National League, have been performing pretty well – nothing as shocking as the White Sox actually being good for once – but they are currently competing against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves to secure a spot. While the Cubs have been having a pretty average season, there have been many outside stresses for the team. Many players are facing the ends of their contracts – players like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and John Lester – are attempting to make their potential last season meaningful with a postseason run. The team’s magic number for the playoffs (the combination of wins from their own team and losses from the Cardinals and Braves) is five; which means it’s pretty likely that baseball fans will being seeing them in the playoffs sooner or later. And with the four-game winning streak they currently have, it seems pretty likely that it will be the former. One thing is for sure; if the Chicago Cubs want to have a successful postseason run, players like Kris Bryant are going to have to step up to the plate (pun intended) and start getting some runs.
While the Chicago White Sox dominated the American League, there are still many other teams that are fighting to simply stay in the running behind them. For example, the Seattle Mariners, below .500, are three games behind the Houston Astros – who are residing comfortably in second place in the AL West (their win percentage is at .500 on the dot) – for the second seat. They are also four and a half games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the eighth and final playoff spot (the Blue Jays are also over .500, so it seems pretty plausible that they won’t be giving up their seat to the Mariners any time soon). The Mariners are also battling against the poor air quality in Seattle right now, having to move their home games against the San Diego Padres to California. Scott Servais, Seattle’s manager, spoke out about the situation earlier today during an MLB interview, “Again, it’s a crazy season, and all the things that have been thrown at our team and a lot of different teams” (https://www.mlb.com/mariners/news/mariners-fall-to-giants-for-fourth-time-in-week). Servais reflected on his team’s previous success against the Padres in the past, revealing that he was hopeful and optimistic for the weekend series they are travelling to play, as “[the team] swing the bats well down there.” It’s safe to assume that the Mariners are hoping to get back on track and take over the Astros projected seat in the playoffs this weekend.
There are many teams battling for a chance at the postseason and there are some teams that may have to hang up the towel and attempt to gain a playoff spot in a future season (Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers fans, I deeply apologize). But one thing is for sure; this season has been an odd one and although the playoffs are a fun and adrenaline-filled time, the MLB needs to ensure player safety during the dangerous pandemic. After all, without baseball players – there’s no baseball.