Playoff Race Update: Home Field in the Wild Card Game Decided Next Weekend

Billy Hamilton steals one of two bases today against the Pirates. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
Billy Hamilton steals one of two bases today against the Pirates. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pittsburgh Pirates had a chance to clinch the playoffs today, but instead got hammered by the Cincinnati Reds. However, the Nationals split a double-header with the Marlins and the Cardinals lost to the Brewers, so not much changed in the playoff race. The magic number for the playoffs is two, and the Pirates enter the final week of the season tied with the Reds for the Wild Card, with both teams sitting two games back from the Cardinals.

NL Central

Brewers 6, Cardinals 3

Reds 11, Pirates 3

The Cardinals lost a game in the standings, however the Pirates couldn’t capitalize. Instead of moving to within one game of St. Louis, the Pirates moved back to a tie for second place with the Reds, at two games back each.

The magic number for the Cardinals is five.

Wild Card

Reds 11, Pirates 3

Marlins 4, Nationals 2

Nationals 5, Marlins 4

The magic number for the Pirates and Reds is now two, which means that any combination of two wins or two Washington losses would clinch the playoffs for either team. At this point one of the Reds and Pirates would have to lose out, and Washington would have to win out to take a playoff spot. Basically the Reds and Pirates are both in, and it’s just a question of when it becomes official.

The two teams are tied for the Wild Card. The tiebreaker for home field advantage will be determined by the best head to head record. Currently the season series is 8-8, although there will be a three game series next weekend to prevent any ties for the season series. That series could be a playoff series in itself. If both teams enter the weekend tied, they would be playing that series for home field advantage in the Wild Card race.

If one team entered the weekend with a lead in the Wild Card race, then the other team would still have a shot at home field advantage. No matter what scenario you run, home field advantage in the Wild Card matchup would be determined next week.

It’s still possible that either team could have a shot at the division, and the Nationals could help them out. Washington plays the Cardinals in a three game series this week. The Nationals have been hot lately, while the Cardinals haven’t exactly been playing their best. The focus will be on the Wild Card race between the Reds and Pirates, but both teams are still alive in the division race.

Playoff Seeding

Braves 5, Cubs 2

Brewers 6, Cardinals 3

Dodgers 1, Padres 0

The loss by the Cardinals today moves them a game and a half back from Atlanta. The Dodgers moved a game behind the Cardinals and two and a half back from the Braves. All three teams are still in the race for the top seed, but it looks like Atlanta is the most likely to take that top seed. If the Pirates make and win the Wild Card game, that would put them up against the Braves in their first real playoff series since 1992, and we all know who the opponent of that last playoff series was.

1. Atlanta

2. St. Louis

3. Los Angeles

4. Cincinnati/Pittsburgh

  • Which means, unless Pittsburgh or Cincinnati takes a 2-game lead in the next 3 games, whoever takes 2 of 3 this weekend gets home field, assuming they are both WCs.

  • MLB tiebreakers don’t specify this… or maybe it does and I’m just missing it. But what happens in the event of a tiebreaker between two teams for the two wild card spots? Is there a playoff to determine who gets to be home for the wild card game? It would seem silly for two teams to play a home field tie breaker and then play the actual wild card game back to back, so I assume it would be based on win % between the 2 teams or intra-divisional win%… but I can’t confirm.

    • It would just go to the regular tiebreaker of the season record between the two teams, as I mentioned above. The Pirates and Reds are tied at 8-8. That means the season series will go to whoever wins the series next weekend. And if they end up tied, that series will determine home field advantage.

  • Next weekend in Cincinnati will be an intense series. I just hope I have my cable back on by then, lol.