Updated 2016 MLB Playoff Odds with 4 Weeks Remaining
Roughly four weeks are left in the 2016 MLB regular season, and while the playoff picture is taking shape, there is still a lot to be decided before October.
In the American League, 10 legitimate contenders remain. The Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers have a strong hold on their respective division leads, but the AL East is a three-team race, and the two wild-card spots are wide open with the Detroit Tigers making a strong push of late.
The National League picture is not as congested, but eight clubs are still in position to reach the postseason. The Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals are locks to fill two of the five spots, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are close to joining that top-tier of NL clubs.
Meanwhile, the wild card now looks like a three-team race between the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets, as the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins have both fallen off the pace.
At any rate, what follows is a look at each club's chances of reaching the postseason, with the following factors taken into account:
- Current standings
- Recent performance
- Future schedule
- Injury concerns
So, with the regular season set to wrap up on Oct. 2, here is an updated division-by-division look at the playoff chances of all the remaining contenders from where they stood one week ago.
Toronto Blue Jays (77-61, tied for division lead)
The Toronto Blue Jays' starting rotation has stumbled a bit over the past week, with R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada all failing to pitch beyond the fifth inning and posting a combined 10.03 ERA over 11.2 innings of work.
They've lost four of five and will need to get things on track quickly with a big three-game series against the Boston Red Sox set to begin on Friday. Making things a bit more interesting, it will be that aforementioned trio of struggling starters on the mound this weekend.
Postseason Chances: 85 percent (+2 percent)
Boston Red Sox (77-61, tied for division lead)
Making the most of a soft spot in the schedule, the Red Sox have gone 5-3 against the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres to pull into a tie with the Blue Jays atop the AL East standings.
It will be Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz on the mound when they square off against the Blue Jays this weekend, and those three have been the team's best starters of late. The Blue Jays hold a slim 7-6 advantage in the season series.
Postseason Chances: 86 percent (+2 percent)
Baltimore Orioles (76-62, 1 game up in WC)
After posting a 5.33 ERA in August, the Baltimore Orioles' pitching staff has pitched to a sterling 1.60 ERA so far in September, second only to the Red Sox (1.47) since the final month of the season began.
Kevin Gausman is working on a 19-inning scoreless streak, Dylan Bundy righted the ship his last time out and Ubaldo Jimenez threw his first complete game since 2011 on Monday. That trio has helped the team to wins in four of its last five, pulling the O's within one game of the AL East lead in the process.
Postseason Chances: 47 percent (+13 percent)
New York Yankees (72-65, 3.5 games back in WC)
The New York Yankees have gone 9-4 in their last 13 games, but they've made up just 1.5 games in the wild-card standings during that span.
Their next eight games are at home, where they've gone 39-28 on the season. Time is working against them, so they'll need to make the most of that stretch with something like a 6-2 or 7-1 record to stay in the hunt.
Postseason Chances: 5 percent (+1 percent)
Tampa Bay Rays (58-79)
Cleveland Indians (79-58, 4.5 games up in division)
The Indians won six in a row heading into the week before dropping the first two games of a four-game set with the Houston Astros.
That win streak has helped them keep the rest of the AL Central at arms length, and they'll have a great opportunity to extend their lead even further when they take on the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox in their upcoming road trip.
Postseason Chances: 98 percent (+3 percent)
Detroit Tigers (75-63, 1 game back in WC)
The Tigers have gone 11-4 in their last 15 games, substantially improving their postseason chances in the process.
Justin Verlander looks like a legitimate Cy Young candidate, the back of the rotation has fallen into place and a red-hot J.D. Martinez leads an offense that has not needed to shoulder as much of the load with the pitching staff stepping up.
With seven games left against the Twins and a season-ending series with the Atlanta Braves, they're also in decent shape from a scheduling standpoint, while the AL East will continue to cannibalize itself.
Postseason Chances: 45 percent (+22 percent)
Kansas City Royals (72-66, 4 games back in WC)
An 18-4 stretch of games pulled the Kansas City Royals from below .500 to the thick of the AL wild-card race, but they've cooled down a bit of late with a 3-4 record in their last seven games.
They're not finished just yet, with 15 of their final 24 games against the White Sox (seven), Twins (four) and Athletics (four), but there's little margin of error if they hope to sneak into the playoffs.
Postseason Chances: 14 percent (-12 percent)
Chicago White Sox (66-72)
Minnesota Twins (51-88)
Texas Rangers (83-56, 8.5 games up in division)
The Rangers have piled up a staggering 7.46 runs of offense per game while going 10-3 in their last 13, and they've tacked three games onto their lead in the AL West in the process as they start to pull away from the field.
They also hold a three-game lead over the Indians for the No. 1 seed in the AL. With a 47-22 record at home—compared to 36-34 on the road—home-field advantage is something they'll be pushing hard for over the season's final weeks.
Postseason Chances: 99 percent (+2 percent)
Houston Astros (74-64, 2 games back in WC)
The Astros are playing good baseball right now, going 9-3 in their last 12 games, including three straight wins on the road against the Rangers and Indians.
Losing Dallas Keuchel to shoulder inflammation will be tough to overcome, though.
The reigning AL Cy Young winner is not having a great season by any means, but he's an innings-eater, and with Lance McCullers already on the disabled list, the rotation was already stretched thin.
"I don't know," manager A.J. Hinch told reporters when asked if he thought Keuchel would pitch again in 2016. "We'll have to get back and see how all of these tests come back and how he continues to feel."
Brad Peacock made it just 3.2 innings starting in place of Keuchel on Tuesday, and prospect David Paulino will make his MLB debut on Thursday.
Postseason Chances: 19 percent (-8 percent)
Seattle Mariners (70-68, 6 games back in WC)
The Seattle Mariners' postseason chances continue to dwindle, as they've now gone 3-11 in their last 14 games.
Taijuan Walker did not make it out of the first inning in his most recent start, while Felix Hernandez and James Paxton were both roughed up as well.
At this point, Hisashi Iwakuma is the only safe bet for a quality start, and the Mariners simply don't have the offensive firepower or the bullpen depth to overcome a struggling rotation.
Postseason Chances: 2 percent (-17 percent)
Los Angeles Angels (62-76)
Oakland Athletics (59-79)
Washington Nationals (81-57, 8.5 games up in division)
The Nationals have all but locked up the NL East title, and it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way.
Along with series against also-rans in the Philadelphia Phillies (four), Braves (four) and Arizona Diamondbacks (four), they also take on a pair of struggling former contenders in the Marlins (six) and Pirates (three) among their final 24 games.
The Nationals will also welcome back Stephen Strasburg from the disabled list to start on Wednesday. Keeping him healthy and preparing him to be part of the postseason rotation will be one of the team's top priorities in September.
Postseason Chances: 99 percent (+0 percent)
New York Mets (73-66, 1 game back in WC)
With a 13-4 record in their last 17 games, the Mets are making a strong push for a wild-card spot. They now trail the St. Louis Cardinals by a single game for that No. 2 slot.
The biggest difference has been the offense, which is averaging 6.77 runs per game during that impressive 17-game stretch. The loss of Neil Walker to season-ending back surgery was a big blow, but Jay Bruce is finally heating up, and they're getting contributions from up and down the lineup.
Unheralded rookies Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman also deserve a ton of credit for stepping up in the starting rotation with Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz both sidelined.
Postseason Chances: 57 percent (+33 percent)
Miami Marlins (68-71, 6 games back in WC)
The Marlins have gone 1-6 in the past week and 1-10 in their last 11 games, dropping them under .500 and leaving their postseason chances as a faint flicker.
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton will be activated from the disabled list far sooner than expected after suffering a significant groin strain on Aug. 14, but just how much he'll be able to contribute remains to be seen. He'll be limited to pinch-hit duties for now, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
Postseason Chances: 1 percent (-6 percent)
Philadelphia Phillies (62-76)
Atlanta Braves (54-85)
Chicago Cubs (89-49, 15.5 games up in division)
"My takeaway is the fact that we have the lead that we do right now and we're playing to win," manager Joe Maddon told reporters Sunday. "There's something to be said for that. Nobody's mailing anything in. Nobody's taking anything for granted. We're playing it one game at a time."
The Cubs will use September to get guys some extra rest, but they're showing no signs of taking their foot off the gas.
Postseason Chances: 99 percent (+0 percent)
St. Louis Cardinals (73-64, 1 game up in WC)
With the NL Central title out of reach, the Cardinals have sort of spun their tires since the All-Star break, going 27-22 with a minus-eight run differential to keep a tenuous hold on the second NL wild-card spot.
However, with the Mets charging hard, they'll need to kick it into gear if they're going to hold on and make it 13 postseason appearances in the past 17 seasons.
Their 30-37 record at Busch Stadium, a year after going an MLB-best 55-26 at home, remains one of the great mysteries of the 2016 season.
Postseason Chances: 70 percent (-5 percent)
Pittsburgh Pirates (67-69, 5.5 games back in WC)
The Pirates are in a complete free-fall right now, and their gut-wrenching loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday night may be the final nail in the coffin.
After the Pirates battled back from down 5-0 to take a 6-5 lead into the top of the ninth, closer Tony Watson served up three home runs with two outs, and the Cardinals walked away with a 9-7 victory.
That runs the Pirates' losing streak to eight in a row, and they'll try to avoid a third consecutive series sweep on Wednesday.
Postseason Chances: 1 percent (-17 percent)
Milwaukee Brewers (61-77)
Cincinnati Reds (57-80)
Los Angeles Dodgers (78-60, 4 games up in division)
Over the past few weeks, the Dodgers have made a strong push to join the Cubs and Nationals in the top tier of NL teams, going 11-5 and building a four-game lead in the NL West standings.
The starting rotation that has been such a revolving door all season now has eight legitimate starting options with Clayton Kershaw set to return on Friday and top prospect Jose De Leon earning a call-up last weekend to join Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, Bud Norris, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling.
The Dodgers still haven't put the Giants away just yet, but a postseason berth of some sort is all but guaranteed at 18 games over .500.
Postseason Chances: 98 percent (+1 percent)
San Francisco Giants (74-64, 1.5 games up in WC)
At some point the Giants are going to kick things into gear, right?
Another 3-4 week of games leaves them at 17-31 since the All-Star break, and their cushion for the No. 1 wild-card spot has shrunk to just a half-game over the Cardinals.
An upcoming stretch of games against the Diamondbacks and Padres will be the Giants' best chance to build some momentum, but a scenario where the Cardinals and Mets claim the two wild-card spots and the Giants season ends early is looking more plausible by the day.
Postseason Chances: 75 percent (-6 percent)
Colorado Rockies (66-72)
Arizona Diamondbacks (58-80)
San Diego Padres (57-81)
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Standings current through Tuesday.