There may only be one MLB playoff spot left to decide over the final weekend of the 2017 season, but that's just the beginning of what's at stake as September gives way to October.
Of most obvious interest is the race between the Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers for the National League's second wild-card slot. The Rockies (87-73) moved one step closer to clinching by crushing the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-1 at Coors Field on Friday.
Colorado got to L.A.'s Hyun-Jin Ryu early and often, touching up the left-handed pitcher from South Korea for three home runs and five earned runs in the first two innings. Charlie Blackmon's two-run homer in the second frame gave him the record for runs batted in by a leadoff hitter.
With one more win over the Dodgers on Saturday or Sunday, the Rockies will lock up just their fourth postseason berth in franchise history and their first since 2009.
The Brewers (85-75) will have to hope the Blue Crew can hold it down in the Mile High City while Milwaukee tries to keep its hopes alive in St. Louis. Stephen Vogt almost single-handedly carried the Brewers to a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. The 32-year-old catcher hit a home run and drove in three runs total at Busch Stadium.
Milwaukee will have to keep its fingers crossed that Clayton Kershaw takes care of business for the Dodgers in Colorado while its own bullpen tries to eat up enough innings to eke out a win against the Cards.
"Mathematically, we're still in it," Milwaukee's Chase Anderson said after picking up his 12th win on Friday, per Stats LLC (h/t ESPN.com). "We're just going to play our game. We've had a great season here. No one expected us to be in this position."
Nor did anyone think back in mid-August, when the Dodgers were setting diamonds on fire nationwide, that L.A. would have to scratch and claw to keep the best record in baseball. But a slump over the final six weeks of the regular season left the Hollywood Swingers with little breathing room in that regard.
This year, that distinction matters since home-field advantage in the World Series will be decided by record rather than the All-Star Game's outcome. The Dodgers (102-58) can guarantee that edge throughout if they win once more or the Cleveland Indians (101-59) drop one of their last two contests against the Chicago White Sox.
Cleveland, meanwhile, has to be mindful of the Houston Astros' hot pursuit of the top spot in the American League. The Astros (100-60) have to win out over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park to have a shot at home-field advantage on the Junior Circuit. A tie wouldn't do Houston any good since the Indians hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Astros.
The Red Sox won't simply be bystanders against Houston, either. Should they get swept by the Astros simultaneous to the New York Yankees doing the same to the Toronto Blue Jays, the two age-old rivals would meet Monday at Yankee Stadium to fight for the American League East crown.
New York hasn't claimed the division since 2009, when it went on to win the World Series. Boston, on the other hand, is hoping to defend its spot atop the heap after getting swept out of the postseason by Cleveland a year ago.
World Series Championship Odds
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 3-1
- Cleveland Indians: 7-2
- Houston Astros: 5-1
- Washington Nationals: 7-1
- Boston Red Sox: 8-1
- Chicago Cubs: 8-1
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 14-1
- New York Yankees: 14-1
- Colorado Rockies: 28-1
- Minnesota Twins: 28-1
World Series Odds
Despite their recent struggles, the Dodgers still own the best odds of bringing home the World Series pennant. L.A. hasn't been to the Fall Classic—let alone won it—since 1988, when then-NL MVP Kirk Gibson earned his ticket into baseball immortality with his iconic home run to win Game 1 over the Oakland A's.
OddsShark shows bookmakers have Dave Roberts' squad pegged as a 3-1 championship favorite. That is to say if you plunk down $100 on the Dodgers to win it all and they do just that, that bet will return $300 to your pocket.
Cleveland, at 7-2, checks in with both the second-best record in baseball and the second-best title odds—and for good reason. Rather than succumb to a World Series hangover this season, the Windians went out and won 22 games in a row to rival L.A.'s midseason hot streak.