While there is still one day left in the 2023 MLB season, we now officially know which 12 teams will be competing in this year’s playoffs. The Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs were each eliminated on Saturday night, seeing their playoffs hopes erased on the penultimate day of the season.
In the National League, the Miami Marlins entered Saturday with a magic number of one to clinch a Wild Card spot. The Marlins were able to handle their business against the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning by a score of 7-3 to clinch their first playoff berth in a full 162-game season since 2003.
While the Arizona Diamondbacks lost their third-straight game, they also were able to clinch a playoff berth, as they hold a tiebreaker over the Chicago Cubs, who sit a game back in the Wild Card race but will come up short regardless of what happens in game 162.
In the American League, the Texas Rangers were finally able to beat the Mariners, and with the Houston Astros winning as well, Seattle was officially eliminated from contention. With that said the playoff field is now set in both leagues.
National League Playoff Picture
What we have known for awhile in the National League is that the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers have not only punched their ticket to October, but they have also secured their place in the NL Division Series round of the playoffs.
Just like last season, the Dodgers and Braves have finished with the top two records in the National League, while winning their respective divisions, each earning a bye through to the second round of the playoffs.
Last year, that bye did not work out well for either team as both were upset in the NLDS, taking losses against their own division rivals in the Phillies and the Padres.
With 104 wins, the Braves have clinched the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, setting themselves up for another potential matchup against the Phillies, depending on what happens in the Wild Card round. As the No. 2 seed, the Dodgers will face the winner of the other Wild Card series, which will include the Brewers.
What has yet to be determined at this point is who will be the No. 5 and who will be the No. 6 seed with those last two playoff spots.
The Marlins are working with one less game right now, as they were unable to complete a game against the Mets this week due to rain. This has them a half game up on the Diamondbacks with one game left to play, but even with them in the win column.
Since the Marlins own the tiebreaker against the D-backs anyway, Major League Baseball has made a ruling that will allow the season to be decided tomorrow without needing the Marlins to complete their game against the Mets.
Basically if the Marlins win, they are the fifth seed, regardless of if the D-backs win and stay even with them in the win column because they own the tiebreaker. If they lose and the D-backs win, technically the Marlins could have gotten an extra win by completing their game against the Mets, but since that would be a logistical nightmare, MLB has overruled that.
The funny thing for the Marlins is that they probably would prefer to be the sixth seed anyway. Being the sixth seed would mean avoiding a Wild Card matchup against their division rival, the Phillies. It would also mean if they advanced, they would avoid their other division rival in the Atlanta Braves.
One line of thinking would be to throw the final game of the season so they could avoid that fate, but if the Diamondbacks lose as well, it won’t matter. Arizona is playing the Astros, who could still win their division with a victory, so there is every chance that all of this is a moot point.
American League Playoff Picture
The American League playoff field is a little more exciting in the final day of the season, because we still have one division race up for grabs.
The Baltimore Orioles have already clinched one of the two byes in the American League, as they won the AL East and lead the American League with 101 wins. The Minnesota Twins had the easiest division to win with the AL Central, but their 87 wins has them locked into the No. 3 seed, meaning they will host the No. 6 seed in a Wild Card series.
Where things get interesting is looking over to the AL West.
The Houston Astros own the tiebreaker over the Texas Rangers, having beaten them in their season series. Only a game back entering the final day of the season, Houston still has plenty to play for.
If the Astros win on Sunday and the Rangers lose, suddenly the Astros once again become the winners of the AL West. This is very significant because that would also give them a bye through the Wild Card round entirely. Loser of the AL West has to play in the Wild Card round where they would likely square up against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays are locked into the first Wild Card spot with their 98-win mark being by far the best in the race. They will host the second Wild Card series and could still face either the Astros or the Blue Jays.
It all comes down to the final day of the season to see exactly how everything shakes out in the American League. If Toronto loses, they avoid having to face the Rays and will instead get a much more favorable matchup against the Minnesota Twins.
If they win and Houston loses, suddenly the Blue Jays will have to face off against their division rival. In the event of a three-way tie, the Rangers would face the Rays, the Blue Jays would face the Twins.
The Wild Card race has been remarkable down the stretch and is sure to provide plenty of theater coming soon, once those pivotal three-game series take place beginning on Tuesday. Until then, we just have one last day before the stage is completely set for playoff baseball.