MLB Playoffs 2016 (UPDATED) – Postseason Bracket Picture, Standings, and Magic Numbers: Cardinals Still Chasing Giants; Rangers, Red Sox, Indians Fight for Home Field
Update - September 26, 2016 - 11:25 a.m. ET: This is the latest MLB Postseason Playoff Bracket-Picture updated as of September 25th, 11:18 p.m. ET. It depicts the teams that have already clinched as well as teams that are fighting for the last spots.
Cubs have clinched NL home field. Nationals have clinched NL East. Dodgers have clinched NL West. Rangers have clinched AL West. Red Sox have clinched a playoff berth.
Each Major League club has fewer than 10 games left in the regular season, yet only the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers can assuredly sell playoff tickets. A diagram of the potential 2016 MLB Playoff Bracket and schedule is provided at the end of this article for viewing.
Chicago clinched the NL Central last week for the first time since 2008. Heading into Friday's matchup with St. Louis, they needed a victory and a Washington loss to clinch home-field advantage through the postseason. By 5 p.m. CST, Wrigleyville was celebrating a 5-0 shutout of the Cardinals.
The #Cubs tied a franchise record with 56 wins at Wrigley Field this season.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 23, 2016
Coincidentally, St. Louis is accustomed to the schadenfreude associated with watching their northern neighbors fail year after year. They have either won the division or earned a Wild Card slot every year for the last five years, including their 2011 World Series run. For comparison's sake, the last time Chicago waved a "W" banner following an NLCS game Sammy Sosa still patrolled the outfield.
It appears 2016 is an outlier. Instead of reeling in a big-name free agent during the winter, they lost Jason Heyward to the Cubs. The once-venerable roster has been marred with injuries during Mike Matheny's managerial tenure.
Adam Wainwright has not recovered from the torn Achilles tendon suffered two springs ago. Matt Holiday - who averaged 147 games per season between 2010 and 2014 - has played in a total of 180 since last year and may not recover from a fractured thumb in time for this playoff run. Not to mention the numerous day-to-day injuries that come with a 162-game regular season.
Despite the setbacks, St. Louis is just half-a-game away from heading to San Francisco or New York. Since Sept. 12, the Giants have lost three series in a row, getting swept by San Diego and at Los Angeles while splitting a four-game set with the Cardinals.
The Mets stumbled along with them, going winless in Washington and at Citi Field against Atlanta. St. Louis, none the better, gained just 1 ½ games in that span.
#MLB standings as of 9/23. #redsox #indians #rangers #nationals #cubs #dodgers pic.twitter.com/qUmw9c93DJ — Grn Monstr Standings (@GrnMnstrStand) September 23, 2016
#SeptemberBaseball is awesome! https://t.co/joVj56BDj7 pic.twitter.com/rAyZ5My09u — MLB (@MLB) September 23, 2016
A Three-Way Battle for AL Home-Field
Less than a separates Texas, Cleveland, and Boston for home-field advantage. Based on scheduling, the Indians look like the odd-man out.
Cleveland ends their season in Detroit and Kansas City. Their magic number was four going into a weekend homestand with the White Sox, though the hope is it reaches zero before Monday's trip to Comerica Park, where the Indians haven't lost a game. Detroit struggled with consistency throughout the summer, and their 10-9 September record is less than inspiring, but a lineup featuring five 20-plus home run hitters should always be taken seriously.
The Rangers' road to October isn't as complicated. They wrapped up the AL West by blanking Oakland 3-0 Friday night, leaving Seattle and Houston to fight for a Wild Card berth.
Texas' final home stand comes against Milwaukee and Tampa Bay, hitting-bereft clubs that carry .244 team batting averages. Cole Hamels and Martin Perez could use the time to decrease their pitch count, but with the home-field race wasn't so tight both are sure to surpass the 200-inning mark.
David Ortiz's farewell tour hits Yankee Stadium before ending at Fenway Park for a three-game set with Toronto. Boston takes an eight-game win streak into Tampa Bay this weekend, averaging 5.6 runs per game while allowing just 3.2.
It wasn't just Rick Porcello putting in work against Baltimore this week. What began with the 21-game winner continued with Eduardo Rodriguez's two-run, four hit outing on Tuesday night. Next, Clay Buchholz held Orioles hitters to one run through seven innings, marking the first time the right-hander has gone so far into a game since April. David Price capped the sweep by celebrating his 17th win, a 5-3 victory that placed the Red Sox one game behind Texas among division leaders.
With any luck, a Yankees' loss could hand them the AL East title by Sunday night. The only question then would be if the Blue Jays will play spoiler in quest of avoiding a one-game playoff.
Potential 2016 MLB Playoffs Bracket & Schedule
The post-season schedule can be viewed here.
Magic Numbers (As of Saturday Morning)
National League Playoff Race
Chicago Cubs (98-55, NL Central champions: clinched home-field advantage)
Washington Nationals (89-64, magic number to NL East title: 2)
Los Angeles Dodgers (88-66, magic number to NL West title: 2)
New York Mets (82-72, magic number to Wild Card berth: 8)
San Francisco Giants (81-73, magic number to Wild Card berth: 9)
American League Playoff Race
Texas Rangers (91-63, AL West champions)
Cleveland Indians (90-63, magic number to AL Central title: 3. To Wild Card berth: 2)
Boston Red Sox (90-64, magic number to AL East title: 4. To Wild Card berth: 2)
Toronto Blue Jays (84-69, magic number to Wild Card berth: 8)
Detroit Tigers (83-70, magic number to Wild Card berth: 9)