NEW YORK — It's suddenly here, one of the best sports months of the year as the Major League Baseball playoffs are right around the corner. Regular season games will conclude on Wednesday, which means the playoffs begin this weekend.
This year, we have expanded playoffs for baseball with three division winners and three Wild Card teams represented in each league. Twelve teams total will compete for a chance at the World Series title.
With three days left in the regular season there are still things that can decide who plays who in the playoffs, and even who gets in.
All six teams for the playoffs on the American League side have been decided. Five teams have been decided on the National League side. The Phillies lead the Brewers by two games with three to play, each.
Let's look at how the playoff picture looks now, as of Monday before games take place.
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The AL is a bit less drama-filled than the National League right now.
Here's what we know right now:
The Houston Astros are the No. 1 seed and will have home field advantage through the AL Championship Series, if they make it there. They will have a bye for the Wild Card series and will wait for another team, who they will host in an AL Divisional Series, which is technically the "second round" of the playoffs.
The Yankees are the No. 2 seed and, like the Astros, will wait for a Wild Card Series winner to face. The Yankees will host the other ALDS series.
As a division winner, the Cleveland Guardians will host an AL Wild Card best-of-three series beginning Friday night in Cleveland. Their opponent has not yet been determined, but it is likely going to be the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are in the 6th slot for the American League standings right now. The Mariners are in the fifth spot, 2.5 games back of the Blue Jays, who are in the fourth slot.
As it lines up currently, the Guardians will host the Rays and the Blue Jays will host the Mariners.
Under the new MLB playoff rules, the higher seed (Guardians and Blue Jays) will host all three of the Wild Card Series games, if three are necessary. The first team to win two moves on.
As it stands, the winner of the Guardians-Rays series would face the Yankees in the ALDS. And, the winner of the Mariners-Blue Jays series would face the Astros in the ALDS. The American League Division Series' are 7-game series, first to four wins.
To recap, this is how it currently plays out if the season was over now:
Wild Card Series: No. 6 Tampa Bay Rays at No. 3 Cleveland Guardians
Wild Card Series: No. 5 Seattle Mariners at No. 4 Toronto Blue Jays
AL Division Series: Tampa or Cleveland at No. 2 New York Yankees
AL Division Series: Seattle or Toronto at No. 1 Houston Astros.
All six AL Wild Card slots are final, but the seeding can still change between Toronto, Seattle and Tampa in the coming days.
All six spots are not final yet in the NL. Five spots are: The Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals are all in.
The Phillies are two games up on the Brewers to be the final NL playoff team.
The other huge thing still not decided is the NL East winner. The Braves currently lead the Mets by two games, which would cement Atlanta into the No. 2 seed and the Mets into the No. 4 seed.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are cemented into the No. 1 seed and the St. Louis Cardinals are cemented into the No. 3.
While the San Diego Padres are in, their spot is not cemented. They are currently the fifth seed, but have a chance at falling to the sixth seed, if the Phillies have a good three days and the Padres don't.
The Cardinals will be hosting a Wild Card Series. They're in the same position Cleveland is on the American League side. The Guardian's Wild Card Series and the Cardinals' Wild Card series will begin on Friday. Their opponents are not locked in yet, but here's what it looks like if the playoffs started today on the NL side.
Wild Card Series: No. 6 Philadelphia Phillies at No. 3 St. Louis Cardinals
Wild Card Series: No. 5 San Diego Padres at No. 4 New York Mets
NL Division Series: Cardinals or Phillies at Atlanta Braves
NL Division Series: Mets or Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers
There are plenty of things to watch for in the final three days.
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