At first glance, you might think the last weekend of the 2017 MLB season would be a snoozer. After all, nine of the 10 playoff spots have already been spoken for, and the one berth still up for grabs could be decided as soon as either the Colorado Rockies win one more game or the Milwaukee Brewers drop one.
That race in itself might be enough to track against a Saturday and Sunday chock-full of football. Throw in the jockeying for position across both leagues, and you've got enough excitement to keep baseball's regular season in the spotlight until the bitter end.
Whatever is left to be determined on Sunday should come to light within the same afternoon window. All 15 first pitches on the final day of the campaign are scheduled to be tossed out between 12:05 and 12:20 p.m. ET.
Before we dive deeper into the potential outcomes of the next 48 hours, here's an overview of the postseason schedule and how teams stack up in the standings on the last day of September.
2017 MLB Playoffs: Key Series Dates
Monday, Oct. 2: Regular-season tiebreaker game (if necessary)
Tuesday, Oct. 3: American League Wild Card Game
Wednesday, Oct. 4: National League Wild Card Game
Thursday, Oct. 5: American League Division Series
Friday, Oct. 6: National League Division Series
Friday, Oct. 13: American League Championship Series
Saturday, Oct. 14: National League Championship Series
Tuesday, Oct. 24: World Series
All playoff games will be televised on ESPN, MLB Network, TBS, FS1 or FOX. TV scheduled is yet to be determined.
2017 MLB Playoffs: Sept. 30 Standings
- Boston Red Sox, 92-68, --
- New York Yankees, 90-70, two games back
- Cleveland Indians, 101-59, clinched
- Houston Astros, 100-60, clinched
AL Wild Card
- Yankees, 90-70, clinched playoff spot
- Minnesota Twins, 84-76, clinched
- Washington Nationals, 97-63, clinched
- Chicago Cubs, 91-69, clinched
- Los Angeles Dodgers, 102-58, clinched
NL Wild Card
- Arizona Diamondbacks, 92-68, clinched
- Colorado Rockies, 87-73, --
- Milwaukee Brewers, 85-75, two games back
According to OddsShark, the three Major League teams that have already won 100 games (i.e., the Dodgers, Indians and Astros) also own the best odds to bring home the World Series pennant. L.A. is a plus-300 on the money line, followed by Cleveland at plus-350 and Houston at plus-500.
The Dodgers followed up their midseason flourish with a bumpy six-week finish. By and large, Dave Roberts' ballclub is much healthier now than it was during that stunning slump, though the loss of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to back stiffness for the remainder of the season leaves them with one fewer left-handed bat to bring out as needed.
Still, with six players (Corey Seager, Yasmani Grandal, rookie Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner and Chris Taylor) clubbing 20 or more home runs this season, the Boys in Blue should have little trouble summoning enough offense to blast past the National League field and into their first World Series since 1988.
That's no sure thing against either of the team's most likely NLDS opponents. The Milwaukee Brewers can sneak into the second wild-card slot, but only if they beat the St. Louis Cardinals twice more and the Dodgers take down the Colorado Rockies over the weekend.
Claiming two more victories in Denver could be a tough task for L.A., even with ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound on Saturday. The Dodgers have lost their last five games against the Rockies and have already ceded their head-to-head series this season.
L.A. didn't have any more luck against the Diamondbacks, who have already claimed the NL's first wild card. Arizona took six straight from the Dodgers during the latter's tailspin between mid-August and September. And between Paul Goldschmidt's MVP-caliber performance at the plate and the sturdy mound work of starters Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, Arizona has enough Dodgers tormentors to take heart in its hopes of springing a postseason upset or two.
The National League's playoff picture looks entirely peaceful compared to the chaos yet to be settled in the American League. Sure, all five of the Junior Circuit's postseason berths are spoken for, but the seedings and matchups could be in flux through Monday.
The Houston Astros have an outside shot at stealing the best record in the AL and all that attends it. With two more wins in Boston and two Cleveland losses opposite the Chicago White Sox, the 'Stros can strut their way into the top spot for the first time since switching over from the NL.
The Red Sox, though, won't go quietly against Houston. They, too, have plenty to play for. A sweep at the Astros' hands coupled with two more New York wins over the Toronto Blue Jays would set up a one-game scenario to settle the AL East at Yankee Stadium on Monday. The winner of that contest would rest until opening the ALDS on Thursday, while the loser would have to host the Minnesota Twins in Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game.