With roughly 50 games left in the regular season, playoff races in the American and National Leagues are heating up, and there are several teams that are racing up the standings in recent weeks.
One of those teams is the Chicago Cubs, who have reeled off wins in 15 of their last 19 games and have vaulted themselves into the third wild card spot in the National League, mere percentage points above the Cincinnati Reds for that slot.
The Cubs are also a game and a half behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
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The Baltimore Orioles are also playing some of their best baseball of the season, 8-2 in their last 10 games and building up a three-game cushion over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.
Some teams are also finding themselves on the wrong end of things, with the Los Angeles Angels losing six consecutive games after making some high-profile additions at the MLB trade deadline last week.
The Arizona Diamondbacks also are in a free-fall, 2-8 in their last 10 games and losers of six straight contests as they’ve dropped out of a playoff spot.
With those clubs in mind, here is where things stand, and what the playoff picture would look like if the season ended today:
In each league, the three division winners reach the playoffs, but only the top-two receive byes through the wild card round of the postseason.
That third division winner plays the lowest-seeded wild card winner, while the other two wild card winners face off in a three-game series. All three games will be played at the higher seeded team’s home stadium.
In the American League, the Orioles would currently hold the top-seed in the playoffs, while the Texas Rangers would be the No. 2 seed as the American League West winners.
The Minnesota Twins, the current American League Central frontrunner, would take on the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game set at Target Field.
The Tampa Bay Rays would host the Houston Astros in the other wild card round series.
The Atlanta Braves currently have the best record in the National League by a wide-margin, and would get a bye in the first round, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Brewers, the current top team in the NL Central, would take on the Cubs in a three-game series at American Family Field in Milwaukee. The San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies are currently tied atop the wild card standings, but the Giants would have the tiebreaker and would host the Phillies in the Bay Area.
Here are the teams that are narrowly on the outside looking in:
-The Cleveland Guardians are 54-58, and are four and a half games behind the Twins in the American League Central.
-The Reds are in a virtual tie with the Cubs for the third wild card spot and are one and a half games behind the Brewers in the NL Central.
-The Seattle Mariners, winners of five straight games and eight of their last 10, are two and a half games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the final AL wild card spot.
-The Miami Marlins are one-half game behind the Cubs and Reds in the race for the third NL wild card spot.
-The San Diego Padres are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are three games back in the race for the National League wild card.