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The week ahead in MLB playoff races: September 19-25

The Brewers make some inroads, the Twins have mostly faceplanted out of the chase

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

A few things happened over the past week, though probably the most notable was the Guardians mostly nailing shut the coffin holding the Twins’ remaining playoff probability by winning three of four head-to-head matchups. Meanwhile, the Brewers went 3-2 while the Phillies went 2-4, giving them a bit of an easier road forward.

NL East

The Braves (91-55) continue to trail the Mets (93-55) by a game. The immediate future is probably the Braves’ best chance (short of directly beating the Mets later in the month) of pulling ahead, given that the Mets have to deal with the Brewers in Milwaukee, while the Braves host the Nationals. The Braves were, on paper, supposed to lose about 1-2 games in the standings, but thanks to the Cubs (?!), they didn’t. Thanks, Cubs!

Mets’ upcoming schedule:

  • @ MIL: Scherzer v. Burnes (42%)
  • @ MIL: Carrasco v. no one knows (44%)
  • @ MIL: Walker v. Houser (44%)
  • @ OAK: Bassit v. Irvin (60%)
  • @ OAK: deGrom v. Waldichuk (68%)
  • @ OAK: Scherzer v. Sears (63%)

Sum win probability: 3.21

Braves’ upcoming schedule:

  • vs. WSN: Wright v. Abbott (73%)
  • vs. WSN: Morton v. Corbin (71%)
  • vs. WSN: Fried v. Gray (76%)
  • @ PHI: Odorizzi v. Suarez (44%)
  • @ PHI: Strider v. Nola (51%)
  • @ PHI: Wright v. Falter (52%)
  • @ PHI: Morton v. Gibson (56%)

Sum win probability: 4.23

As you can see, a non-terrible chance to pick up a game here, though some of that is because the Braves have an extra game while the Mets travel on Thursday. I don’t really get why the Mets have such a low chance to win the Carrasco-TBD and Walker-Houser matchups, as Lindblom’s been awful and Houser isn’t really even average, but all help will be appreciated.

Last 2 NL Wild Card Spots

Current status: Padres (81-66) lead Phillies (80-66) by half a game. Phillies are two games up on the Brewers (78-68) for the final spot.

  • Padres: 3 vs. STL, 3 @ COL; sum win probability = 3.52
  • Phillies: 2 vs. TOR, 4 vs. ATL; sum win probability = 3.05
  • Brewers: 3 vs. NYM, 4 @ CIN; sum win probability = 4.09

The Brewers had a nice week, but it didn’t really nudge them ahead. They’ll have another chance to close the gap with the Phillies this week, and might be disappointed if they can’t clamber into a playoff spot over the weekend given that they play the Reds while the Phillies have to deal with the Braves.

AL East and Wild Card Spots

Current status: Yankees (88-58) lead the Blue Jays (83-64) by 5.5 games, and the Rays (82-64) by 6.0 games. The Mariners (80-65) trail the Rays by 1.5 games, but this is all mostly just a seeding competition at this point. Plus, I mean, would you rather face one of these teams on the road, or the Guardians? The sixth seed may not be a terrible place relative to the fifth seed.

  • Yankees: 2 vs. PIT, 4 vs. BOS; sum win probability = 3.63
  • Blue Jays: 2 @ PHi, 4 @ TBR; sum win probability = 2.69
  • Rays: 3 vs. HOU, 4 vs. TOR; sum win probability = 3.28
  • Mariners: 1 @ LAA, 3 @ OAK, 3 @ KC; sum win probability = 4.31

If the Mariners do want to shoot for that #4 seed, this is a great week to do it, as they play some pretty bad teams while the Jays and Rays have tough schedules that involve a four-game set against one another.

AL Central

Bye bye, Twins, probably.

Current status: Guardians (79-67) lead White Sox (76-71) by 3.5 games.

  • Guardians: 1 vs. MIN, 3 @ CHW, 3 @ TEX; sum win probability = 3.32
  • White Sox: 3 vs. CLE, 3 vs. DET; sum win probability = 3.45

The Guardians get a chance to wrap up this division early in the week, though they’ll have to do it on the road. The White Sox can cause a lot of problems by winning the series and decking the Tigers, but they’re 7-9 against the Guardians so far, so that’ll need to change to keep this race interesting. That the White Sox actually lost a game while playing the Rockies and Tigers and the Guardians had to deal with the Twins isn’t really surprising, but it does make this hangdog “race” even more of a bummer.

Non-Braves games to watch (assuming pitching matchups hold):

  • Monday: Twins @ Guardians, Sonny Gray v. Cal Quantrill. I don’t think the Twins can really get back in this, but they definitely need to win this game to have a shot, and they definitely have the pitching matchup advantage here.
  • Tuesday: Blue Jays @ Phillies, Ross Stripling v. Kyle Gibson. Stripling is weirdly pretty good now, and this game is pretty important for both teams, at least to some extent. That and, well, we’re really running out of meaningful games this season, especially with contenders going head-to-head.
  • Wednesday, Astros @ Rays, Lance McCullers Jr. vs. Corey Kluber. A good pitching matchup between two good teams. The Rays have a tough week with some pretty favorable matchups, but this looks to be a really even one on paper.
  • Thursday: Guardians @ White Sox, Shane Bieber vs. Lucas Giolito. White Sox’ last chance, unfortunately also featuring a diminished-season Giolito against a very good Bieber.
  • Friday, Brewers @ Reds, Jason Alexander vs. Hunter Greene. It’s not a great matchup for the Brewers, and Greene’s been unlucky far more than he’s been bad. Pretty devastating for the Brewers to lose any of these games against the Reds, though, even if they are on the road.
  • Saturday, Guardians @ Rangers, Cal Quantrill vs. Glenn Otto. Nothing too intriguing here, but the matchups on this day are kinda meh, and this could be a key game if and only if the Guardians really eat dirt in Chicago earlier in the week.
  • Sunday, Brewers @ Reds, Who Knows vs. Nick Lodolo. This is basically the same thing as on Friday. It’s another quite-bad matchup for the Brewers as they have to face Lodolo, who’s been real awesome so far. But what choice do they have but to persevere?

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