Updated 2019 MLB Playoff Odds for Every Contender

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2019

Updated 2019 MLB Playoff Odds for Every Contender

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    Less than three weeks remain in the 2019 MLB regular season, and 15 teams are still in contention for the 10 playoff spots.

    In the American League, the New York Yankees and Houston Astros are well on their way to division titles, while the Minnesota Twins look like a safe bet to at least reach the playoffs. That leaves the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays to vie for two spots.

    Things are considerably murkier on the National League side.

    The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers hold commanding division leads, while the St. Louis Cardinals have built a slight cushion over the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in a tight NL Central race. Those teams are also in the wild-card hunt, joining the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and upstart Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Ahead is an updated look at the postseason odds for each of those 15 contenders based on recent performance, remaining schedule and expectations for the rest of the season.

AL East

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    New York Yankees (95-50)

    With a nine-game lead in the AL East standings and a plus-174 run differential that ranks third in the majors, the Yankees have been one of baseball's elite teams.

    The offense is a juggernaut, leading MLB in runs scored (837) and ranking second in home runs (270). As players get healthy, they are finally firing on all cylinders.

    While the pitching staff remains a question looking ahead to October, the Yankees a lock to reach the postseason. The bigger question is whether they can edge out the Houston Astros for the best record in the American League.

    Odds: 0-1 (100 percent)


    Tampa Bay Rays (86-59)

    The Rays are 29-12 in their last 41 games, the second-best record in baseball during that span, and they have a two-game cushion in the AL wild-card standings.

    With a relatively easy schedule ahead, they're in great shape to reach the postseason for the first time since 2013. Two games on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers and two at home against the New York Yankees are their only remaining contests against playoff-bound teams.

    Budding ace Tyler Glasnow is back, and if he can return to his pre-injury form, it will put the team in an even better position for the stretch run and on into the postseason.

    Odds: 1-3 (75 percent)


    Non-Contenders: Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles

AL Central

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    Minnesota Twins (88-55)

    The Twins looked poised to run away with the AL Central title when their division lead swelled to 11.5 games at the beginning of June. That eroded to a tie atop the standings by the middle of August, but they never surrendered the top spot.

    They've built their lead back up to five games, and with a healthy cushion over the two AL wild-card spots, the Twins are in great shape to claim their first division flag since 2010.

    Their final 13 games are against sub-.500 teams, so if they can survive this week's series against the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians, it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way.

    Odds: 1-99 (99 percent)


    Cleveland Indians (84-61)

    Since the beginning of June, the Indians (56-32) have a better record than the division-leading Twins (50-37).

    The two teams have three more games head-to-head this weekend, and the Indians lead the season series 9-7. However, even if Cleveland can close the gap with a series win, the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals await over the season's final two weeks.

    The Indians have a half-game deficit to overcome for the No. 2 AL wild-card spot. After making the playoffs each of the past three seasons, they will need to chase down the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics to keep that streak alive.

    Odds: 3-4 (57 percent)


    Non-Contenders: Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers

AL West

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    Houston Astros (95-50)

    With a 10.5-game lead in the AL West standings and a plus-255 run differential that leads all of baseball, the Astros have all but clinched a third straight division title.

    With a stacked offense and the foursome of Justin Verlander (18-5, 2.52 ERA, 264 K), Gerrit Cole (16-5, 2.73 ERA, 281 K), Zack Greinke (15-5, 2.99 ERA, 167 K) and Wade Miley (13-4, 3.35 ERA, 134 K) to front the starting rotation, this looks like the team to beat heading into the postseason.

    Despite their hefty division lead, the Astros still have plenty to play for with the best record in the American League up for grabs. With a 56-17 record at home but 39-33 on the road, that's significant.

    Odds: 0-1 (100 percent)


    Oakland Athletics (84-60)

    The Athletics have once again pieced together a viable pitching staff with the additions of Homer Bailey and Tanner Roark, the return of Sean Manaea and the promotions of A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo.

    Since stumbling out of the gates to a 19-25 record, the Athletics have gone 65-35 with a plus-132 run differential. That record trails only the Yankees (71-34, +138), Braves (69-34, +112) and Astros (67-35, +172) during that span.

    Once they wrap their current series against the Astros, their remaining 15 games are against teams with a sub-.500 record. They have a half-game lead for the No. 2 wild-card spot and a favorable road ahead.

    Odds: 5-11 (69 percent)


    Non-Contenders: Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners

NL East

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    Atlanta Braves (90-55)

    The Braves have been the class of what was expected to be a hotly contested NL East division, building a commanding 9.5-game in pursuit of a second straight division title.

    With an 18-3 record in their last 21 games and a plus-43 run differential during that span, they are arguably the hottest team in baseball, and they have to be considered a legitimate title contender.

    Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. will both appear on NL MVP ballots, while the starting rotation has rounded into form with Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Dallas Keuchel all posting a sub-3.50 ERA since the All-Star break.

    Odds: 0-1 (100 percent)


    Washington Nationals (79-63)

    A sub-.500 team in late June, the Nationals stormed back into the playoff picture and seized control of the No. 1 wild-card spot with a 19-7 month of August.

    With NL MVP candidate Anthony Rendon leading the offensive charge and the three-headed monster of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin anchoring a starting rotation that ranks third in the majors with a 3.59 ERA, this team is well-positioned to make some noise in October.

    That being said, an improved bullpen has been perhaps the biggest factor in the Nationals' turnaround. Veterans Fernando Rodney, Daniel Hudson and Hunter Strickland have been huge additions to the relief corps.

    Odds: 1-16 (94 percent)


    New York Mets (73-70)

    The Mets made the surprise decision to buy rather than sell at the trade deadline, despite a 52-55 record on July 31.

    An eight-game winning streak and a 17-11 record overall in August helped them make up some ground in the NL wild-card standings, but they've again fallen back with a 6-10 record in their last 16 contests.

    If they are still within striking distance at the end of the week, they face the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins over a 10-game stretch before closing out the season at home against the Braves. They can't afford to let their current four-game deficit grow any larger before they get to that stretch, though.

    Odds: 24-1 (4 percent)


    Philadelphia Phillies (74-69)

    After leading the NL East for the first two months of the season, the Phillies finally dropped into second place with a loss on June 12 that sparked a 1-9 stretch of games.

    Since that initial drop in the standings, they've gone 36-40 with a minus-28 run differential, looking more like an also-ran than a legitimate contender in the process.

    With road series against the Braves and Nationals as well as a three-game set in Cleveland against the Indians, they face a tough road ahead and an uphill battle in the wild-card race.

    Odds: 99-1 (1 percent)


    Non-Contenders: Miami Marlins

NL Central

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    St. Louis Cardinals (81-62)

    With a 23-7 record in their last 30 games, the best record in baseball during that span, the Cardinals have seized control of the NL Central race.

    They were 3.5 games back in the standings at the start of that impressive run, and now they hold a four-game lead. During that stretch, right-hander Jack Flaherty has emerged as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, allowing just three earned runs in his last 54 innings of work.

    It's worth mentioning that 10 of their last 19 games are on the road where they've gone 35-36 on the year, and four of those are against the Chicago Cubs team that is chasing them in the standings. With momentum on their side and a strong wild-card cushion, they're a safe bet to be playing in October in some capacity.

    Odds: 1-19 (95 percent)


    Chicago Cubs (77-66)

    It's been a roller-coaster season for the Cubs, and part of that stems from their brutal 30-42 record away from Wrigley Field.

    They face the Cardinals seven more times, including a three-game series at Busch Stadium to close out the regular season. The Cubs hold a 7-5 advantage with a plus-12 run differential in the season series, so there's still an opportunity for them to close the gap. They face quite the uphill battle doing that, though.

    Veteran starters Jon Lester and Cole Hamels look lost, closer Craig Kimbrel is sidelined with elbow inflammation, setup man Pedro Strop has been shelled, shortstop Javier Baez will likely miss the rest of the regular season with a hairline fracture in his left thumb, and third baseman Kris Bryant has been hobbled by a bum knee all season.

    Odds: 14-11 (44 percent)


    Milwaukee Brewers (75-68)

    The Brewers were on the verge of slipping out of the postseason picture entirely before taking three of four at home against the Cubs last weekend.

    While they have a two-game deficit to overcome to climb into the No. 2 wild-card spot, momentum is now on their side with a 7-2 record in their last nine games, and they have a favorable schedule going forward. After their upcoming weekend series against the Cardinals, their final 13 games are against the San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies.

    The Brewers have their fair share of questions marks, but with so many NL contenders going head-to-head over the final two weeks, they simply need to take care of business against a foursome of non-contenders to put themselves in prime position for a wild-card berth.

    Odds: 3-2 (40 percent)


    Non-Contenders: Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Dodgers (93-52)

    The Dodgers' magic number stands at just one to secure a seventh straight NL West title.

    While the Braves are making a strong late push, the Dodgers are still the team to beat on the NL side of things this October. It goes beyond just making the playoffs. After coming up short in the World Series in back-to-back years, it's title or bust for L.A.

    The Dodgers' lead for the best record in the NL has been trimmed to just three games, so they can't exactly coast down he stretch. But there's no question they are in an enviable position.

    Odds: 0-1 (100 percent)


    Arizona Diamondbacks (75-69)

    On Aug. 24, the Diamondbacks were 64-66 and FanGraphs gave them a 1.2 percent chance of making the playoffs. Since then, they've gone 11-3 with a plus-25 run differential to surge back into the wild-card picture.

    Young starters Zac Gallen (6 GS, 2.25 ERA) and Alex Young (7 GS, 4.03 ERA) have given the rotation a shot in the arm after ace Zack Greinke was traded at the deadline, while Ketel Marte has pushed his way into the NL MVP conversation with a .360/.437/.661 line and 28 extra-base hits in 49 games since the All-Star break.

    The remaining schedule includes the Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins and six games against the San Diego Padres. After trading Paul Goldschmidt during the offseason and Greinke this summer, this team reaching the playoffs would be one of the bigger surprises in recent memory. It's looking less and less far-fetched by the day.

    Odds: 7-2 (22 percent)


    Non-Contenders: San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, and accurate through Monday's games.