It seems like just yesterday that the 2020 MLB season began, doesn’t it? But that’s just what happens with an abbreviated 60-game season. Nevertheless, there’s just one weekend of baseball left to play (maybe more for the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers) before the playoffs begin on Tuesday, a postseason that will undoubtedly be the craziest in history as, for the first time ever, 16 teams will battle it out for the right to be called World Series champions.
Heading into Friday’s action, however, all of those playoff spots have not yet been filled, which will lead to plenty of dramatic games over the next three (maybe four) days. In addition, some teams that have already earned a postseason berth will be fighting for seeding and the right to host a first-round series, which will only add to the excitement.
So let’s take a quick look at the biggest storylines heading into the final weekend of the 2020 MLB season.
The NL Central could have four teams in the 2020 MLB postseason and the race for the NL wild card is…well…wild
The National League Central has arguably been the most competitive division in MLB this season. Heading into Friday, only the Chicago Cubs have clinched a postseason berth but there is a chance that four teams from the division could make the postseason as the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and Milwaukee Brewers are also in the mix for the four available spots in the NL playoff bracket.
Coming into their weekend series with the White Sox, the Cubs hold a 2.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central. The Cardinals hold a half-game lead over the Reds and a two-game lead over the Brewers for second place. The Cards and Brewers will play four games over the next three days and the outcome of these games will determine quite a bit, including whether or not St. Louis has to travel to Detroit on Monday (for more on that, click on the “RELATED” article above).
The Reds, who are playing a three-game set in Minnesota this weekend, currently hold a half-game lead on the San Francisco Giants for the first wild card spot. The Giants, who will play four games against the Padres (already locked into the No. 4 spot and won’t move from there) over the next three days, sit one game ahead of the Brewers for the No. 8 seed.
So as you can see, there’s a lot happening with the National League Central as the three teams chasing the Cubs fight for the automatic berth that comes this year with a second-place finish. While the Cubs can still mathematically lose the division, it’s highly unlikely with just this weekend to go. But even for the two teams that don’t finish in second, they’re still contenders for the two wild-card spots, as are the Giants and Phillies. But there’s also more on the line for Philadelphia as they enter the weekend just one game behind the Miami Marlins for second place in the NL East.
The Mets and Rockies are still technically alive but both have an elimination number of one.
Did you get all of that?
The AL Central race
While things aren’t quite as crazy in the American League Central, there is still quite a bit happening. The Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, and Cleveland Indians have all locked up spots in the AL bracket but all three teams still have a chance to win the division.
Coming into Friday, the Twins hold a one-game lead on the White Sox and a two-game lead on the Indians. As mentioned, the White Sox are playing their crosstown series with the Cubs and the Twins are hosting the Reds. As for the Indians, they’re hosting a three-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are coming off three consecutive wins over the Cubs.
The White Sox just lost four straight to the Indians and have lost six of seven after becoming the first team in the AL Central to clinch a postseason berth. But even with the recent run of misfortune, the White Sox still have a chance to host a first-round series as they currently hold the No. 4 seed in the AL playoff bracket. But they’ll need a good showing against the Cubs this weekend to lock that up.
Mike Trout and the Angels need a miracle to make the MLB postseason
There is only one remaining spot in the American League playoff bracket as the Rays, Twins, A’s, White Sox, Yankees, Indians, and Blue Jays have all clinched. Oakland locked up the American League West on Monday but the second-place berth from the division has not yet been determined.
With eight playoff spots available, the 2020 season was obviously Mike Trout’s best chance to get to the postseason for the first time since 2014 and just the second time in his career. Unfortunately for Trout and the Angels, not only do they need to sweep the Dodgers this weekend, they also need the Rangers to sweep the Astros as Houston currently holds a three-game lead for second place.
The good news is that the Dodgers could be resting some of their top players as they’re locked into the No. 1 spot in the NL bracket. But it’s a lot to hope that the 19-38 Rangers can win all three games against the Astros. But on the off chance that this scenario plays out, the Angels would get in as they went 6-4 against Houston this season. Head-to-head record would be the tiebreaker as no additional games will be played.
It should be quite an exciting weekend as the craziest MLB season in history comes to a close.
All standings and schedules courtesy of MLB.com