The Seattle Mariners appear primed to make the postseason after having the odds against them virtually all year.
Don't Stop Believin'!
— MLB (@MLB) September 30, 2021
Right now, there are four teams fighting over two Wild Card spots in the American League.
The New York Yankees are up two and on the verge of securing a playoff berth; then the Mariners and the Boston Red Sox are up one against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the final weekend, the Blue Jays host the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees host the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox will play in Washington against the Nationals, and the Mariners will be at home versus the Los Angeles Angels.
Before going into specific scenarios, it’s important to point out that, if the season ended today, the Yankees would be the first Wild Card and the Red Sox and Mariners would face off in a tie-breaking game to decide the second.
Any tie for the second Wild Card would result in an extra game, except if the tie is between three teams, in which case, we will explain the scenario below.
Now, to the scenarios.
Seattle Wins Three Games
If the Mariners win their three games, they have excellent chances of making it to the postseason directly, but will depend on the Red Sox.
Sweeping the Angels would automatically get Seattle in the playoffs if the Red Sox lose at least one game against the Nationals.
If Boston drops at least one game against Washington and Seattle wins all three versus the Angels, they could still grab the first Wild Card spot if the Yankees are swept by the Rays.
A three-game sweep of the Angels would guarantee Seattle at least a 163rd game.
Seattle Wins Two Games
If the Mariners win two games, they could be eliminated if the Yankees win one and Boston sweeps.
Winning two games would get Seattle into October automatically if Boston wins no more than one game and if Toronto doesn’t sweep.
With two Seattle victories and two Red Sox wins, the teams would be tied.
Likewise, if Seattle takes two and Toronto sweeps the O’s, the two clubs would be tied.
Seattle Wins One Game
The Mariners’ chances would be in jeopardy if they win only one game over the weekend.
They may still make the playoffs in that case, but then they would need Boston and Toronto to get swept to advance automatically.
If Seattle and Boston both win one, they would go to an extra game IF Toronto doesn’t win two (if that happens, there would be a three-team tie) or three (Toronto advances).
If Seattle takes one, Boston is swept, and Toronto wins two, the Mariners and Blue Jays would need a tiebreaker to solve the second Wild Card and the Red Sox would be out.
If Seattle is swept, the best they can hope is a tiebreaker game if Boston is swept too and Toronto doesn’t win more than one game.
What Happens In The Event Of A Three-Way Tie For The Second Wild Card?
There is a chance, albeit remote, that three teams tie for the second Wild Card berth.
What would happen in that scenario?
Jeff Passan of ESPN wrote about it recently.
– Houston and Atlanta clinched their divisions today
– Yankees' magic number is 2
– In a three-way wild-card tie, teams chose to be Club A, B or C. If it's Boston, Seattle and Toronto, the Red Sox pick first, Mariners second, Blue Jays third. Wrote a bit about it. pic.twitter.com/3Xn1Fo6L5t
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 1, 2021
If that’s the case, there are three letters to assign: A, B, and C.
The team with the best head-to-head record in games against the other two will get to pick its letter first.
Teams A and B will need to win two games just to get to the Wild Card game, while Team C just needs a single victory (against the winner of the first matchup), but on the road.
If it’s Boston, Seattle and Toronto, the Red Sox pick first, the Mariners second, and the Blue Jays third.
The presumed first pick would be C because that team will only need to win one game.
Team A will host the game against B.
Let the hunger games begin.