Today is technically the last day of regular-season baseball, but if things break the right way in the National League, it might not be. Not only is a tie for the NL West between the Padres and the Giants still possible, but a three-way tie between between those teams and the Braves might also be in the cards. That would result in two back-to-back playoff games. Confusing, right? Let's break it down for you. Here is where things stand:
- The Braves (90-71) take on the Phillies at 1:35 p.m. Atlanta is currently tied for the Wild Card with the Padres.
- The Giants (91-70) play the Padres (90-71) at 4:05 p.m. ET. The Giants are leading the NL West; the Padres are tied for the Wild Card with the Braves and a game behind the Padres for the West.
- The Padres, considered all but out of the playoff scenarios last week, have won two straight against the Giants, while the Braves have lost two straight to the Phillies.
Now, here are the four potential scenarios of what could happen today, including the three-way tie.
(UPDATE: Even though Sunday's action is over — the Giants and the Braves both won — I'm updating the scenarios for the record because I guess I was a little too hungover this morning and completely screwed two of them up.)
Giants win, Phillies win. The Giants win the NL West.
The Padres win the Wild Card. The Braves are eliminated. No playoff games.The Padres and the Braves, tied for the Wild Card, would play a playoff game on Monday in Atlanta to determine who wins the Wild Card.
Giants win, Braves win. The Giants win the NL West.
The Padres and the Braves, tied for the Wild Card, would play a playoff game on Monday in Atlanta to determine who wins the Wild Card. The Braves win the Wild Card. The Padres are eliminated. [THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.]
- Padres win, Braves win. All three teams would be tied at 91-71. The Padres and the Giants would play on Monday in San Diego to determine the NL West champion. The loser of that game would then travel to Atlanta to play the Braves in a second playoff game to determine the Wild Card winner.
- Padres win, Phillies win. Padres win the NL West. The Giants win the Wild Card.
That last scenario might seem confusing because in that one, the Padres and the Giants would technically have the same record — so why wouldn't there be a playoff to determine the NL West champion? Because the Padres automatically would win the division by virtue of the head-to-head record with the Giants. The rules state that if both teams tied atop a division will make the playoffs — one by winning the division, one by Wild Card — then the head-to-head record is used to determine the division champ.
That, incidentally, is what would happen today in the AL East if both the Yankees and the Rays win their games today. They'd have the same records — 96-66 — but with Tampa Bay winning the head-to-head series this season, they'd automatically win the division title. If the Yankees win and the Rays lose, then the Yankees win the division.