This year things are so tight that a single win or loss would turn any playoff prediction upside down. With just six games remaining remarkably no team has clinched a playoff spot, even more outlandish each one of the top seven teams in the standings can still pick up the bye. This past Sunday the Astros were eliminated but everyone else is still alive. The following is a condensed version of each team's best shot to get into the postseason.
What we know.
Though nowhere near as awful as their record would suggest the 2-14 Astros have been eliminated from playoff contention. While they did get blown out in a few games half of their losses were by a run of less. After being active at the trade deadline and with draft picks coming their way the Astros retool will need to pay dividends in 2018.
At 5-9 and with the Brewers as their only real head-to-head tie-breaker to speak of the Cardinals are going to need to run the table. If that happens they would essentially knock the Mariners out of contention but they would also need the Brewers to lose a game and the Expos (who they play three times in the last three weeks of the season) to also go 1-2 against the Padres and Diamondbacks. There are other ways in but the aforementioned scenario would be the one they would have the most control over.
At 6-10 the Brewers sort of hold their destiny in their hands. If they sweep the Yankees this Sunday they would be a half game ahead of the Yankees. Week 10 they play the Dodgers and the Astros who they have already beaten this year. If they can pull this off then they need to sweep the Mariners on the last day of the season. There are scenarios that get them in with 11 wins but if they do go 5-1 down the stretch they will need that one loss to be against the Dodgers or Astros.
Also at 6-10 the Mariners have head-to-head tie-breakers over the current #7 seed Royals, and current #6 seed Yankees. The Mariners will just need to make up two games on both of those teams. They also have the weakest strength of schedule the rest of the way. While they have a real shot at getting past the Royals the Yankees may not be so easy.
The Royals 8-8, are currently on the outside looking into the playoffs but the good news is they play two against the current #6 seed Yankees. The bad news, three left against the Padres and one vs. the Giants. As long as they sweep the Yankees and go 2-2 in their other four games, provided the Mariners and Brewers both lose a game the Royals are in the playoffs.
Aside from the Mariners no one has a softer remaining schedule than the 8-8 Yankees. If they sweep the Brewers this Sunday, split with the Royals Week 10 and sweep the Astros they are in.
The Expos season essentially comes down to their three remaining games with the Cardinals. Sure they can run the table or even sweep the Padres and win their game Week 11 against the Diamondbacks but it would seem the easiest way in would be at least winning the season series against the Cards and maybe picking up another win.
The Diamondbacks play five of their final six games against teams with equal to or better records. If they run the table they will pick up a first round bye and may even win the Pennant. On the flip side, a win or two probably gets them in.
The Giants are in the exact same predicament, five of six against equal of better records, run the table they have the bye and just a win could get them in. Either way it makes a week 10 series against the D-Backs all the more interesting no matter what happens this Sunday.
The Padres play the Giants and Royals on Sunday, the Expos Week 10 and the Royals again Week 11. At 11-5 and in second place they really only need to win two of three against the Royals to secure a playoff spot but after being near the top of the standings all year anything less than the bye would be disappointing.
The Dodgers have spent most of the season in first and are the only team that can clinch a playoff spot Week 9. A split against the D-Backs would theoretically clinch a spot provided they don't give up 11 more runs than the Yankees the rest of the way. With the Brewers and Astros Week 10 they get a bit of a reprieve and then take on the Giants to end the season. If they avoid getting swept in each of the three remaining series the bye is theirs.