MLB postseason picture, standings, playoff bracket: Giants move into wild-card spot; Twins take division lead

Major League Baseball’s shortened 60-game regular season is set to wrap up this week — on Sunday — and several spots in the expanded 16-team postseason field are still up for grabs. Things in the National League are more wide open than in the American League, but there are plenty of compelling races. 

With that in mind, we here at CBS Sports will keep you apprised of the postseason picture on a daily basis from now through the end of the regular season. Here’s where things stand right now.

If the season ended today

The season does not end today, thankfully, but if it did, the postseason brackets would look like this:

American League
No. 1 Rays vs. No. 8 Blue Jays
No. 2 Athletics vs. No. 7 Cleveland
No. 3 Twins vs. No. 6 Astros
No. 4 White Sox vs. No. 5 Yankees

National League
No. 1 Dodgers vs. No. 8 Reds
No. 2 Braves vs. No. 7 Giants
No. 3 Cubs vs. No. 6 Marlins
No. 4 Padres vs. No. 5 Cardinals

The top three seeds are the division winners and the next three seeds are the second-place teams. The final two spots go to the remaining teams with the best records. The first round (Wild Card Series) is a best-of-three series with all three games at the higher seed’s ballpark. The second round (LDS) is a best-of-five and the final two rounds (LCS and World Series) are best-of-sevens.

Aside from locking in home-field advantage in the Wild Card Round, there is no real benefit to winning the division this season. There’s no one-and-done Wild Card Game to avoid, and even home-field advantage is less of an advantage because fans will not be allowed into ballparks during the postseason, at least during the early rounds. Batting last is a real benefit, but that’s about it for home-field advantage.

It is important to note MLB will not play any tiebreaker games this season to allow for an expedited postseason schedule. All ties with be resolved mathematically, even if two teams finish with identical records for the No. 8 seed. Here’s how MLB will break ties this year:

  1. Head-to-head record (if applicable).
  2. Intradivision record.
  3. Record in final 20 division games (plus one until the tie is broken).

MLB will play the LDS, LCS, and World Series in a bubble. The American League bubble will be in Southern California (Dodger Stadium and Petco Park) while the National League bubble will be in Texas (Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park). The World Series will be played at the Rangers‘ Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

In the hunt

Already clinched

  • Athletics: Clinched AL West
  • Braves: Clinched NL East
  • Dodgers: Clinched NL West and number one seed
  • White Sox: Clinched postseason spot
  • Rays: Clinched AL East
  • Twins: Clinched postseason spot
  • Yankees: Clinched postseason spot
  • Padres: Clinched postseason spot
  • Cleveland: Clinched playoff spot
  • Cubs: Clinched playoff spot

MLB standings

Below are the MLB standings heading into Wednesday. 

* = clinched playoff berth

1. Rays* 37 20 .649
2. Athletics* 34 21 .618
3. Twins* 35 22 .614
4. White Sox* 34 22 .607
5. Yankees* 32 24 .571
6. Astros 28 28 .500
7. Cleveland* 32 24 .571
8. Blue Jays 29 27 .518
9. Angels 26 31 .456 3.5
1. Dodgers* 39 17 .696
2. Braves* 34 22 .607
3. Cubs* 32 24 .571
4. Padres* 34 22 .607
5. Cardinals 27 26 .509
6. Marlins 28 28 .500
7. Giants 28 27 .509
8. Reds 29 28 .509
9. Phillies 28 29 .491 1.0
10. Brewers 27 28 .491 1.0
11. Mets 25 31 .446 3.5
12. Rockies 24 31 .436 4.0

Thursday’s notable games

(All times U.S./Eastern)

  • Cubs at Pirates, 1:35 p.m. ET
  • Rockies at Giants, 3:45 p.m. ET
  • Mets at Nationals, 6:05  p.m. ET
  • White Sox at Cleveland, 6:10 p.m. ET
  • Yankees at Blue Jays, 6:37 p.m. ET
  • Marlins at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Orioles at Red Sox, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Tigers at Royals, 8:05 p.m. ET
  • Astros at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET
  • Brewers at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET
  • A’s at Dodgers, 9:40 p.m. ET

Including jockeying for seeding — and there’s a lot to be done — eight of those games have playoff implications. I suppose we could stretch it and add the Mets in there and make it nine. Regardless, that’s a lot of meaningful baseball for Sept. 24. 

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