One week remains in the 2021 MLB regular season, and there are several playoff races that are still wide open.
It has been an unpredictable season from the gate, and the fireworks likely aren’t over yet.
There are a few series set to begin on Monday or Tuesday with massive playoff implications.
Here are the three biggest matchups to keep an eye on as the week begins.
3. Oakland Athletics At Seattle Mariners
The playoffs might as well start this week for the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.
The two clubs will open a three-game set on Monday, and neither team can afford to lose this series.
This next series with the Athletics is pretty much the playoffs to get into the playoffs. There isn’t any other way around it for either team. Go Mariners! #seausrise
— Mariners Wild Card Update (@MsPlayoffHope) September 27, 2021
Here’s a look at the AL Wild Card picture entering play on Monday:
- Wild Card No. 1: New York Yankees
- Wild Card No. 2: Boston Red Sox (1 GB of Yankees for No. 1 spot)
- In The Hunt: Toronto Blue Jays (1 GB of Red Sox)
- In The Hunt: Seattle Mariners (2 GB of Red Sox)
- In The Hunt: Oakland Athletics (3 GB of Red Sox)
Realistically, Oakland probably needs to go 5-1 or 6-0 over its final six games to have a chance at stealing a playoff bid.
The A’s will play the Houston Astros in a three-game set to finish the year, so it’s tough sledding from here on out.
Oakland probably needs to sweep this series with Seattle and then hope for a 2-1 weekend against the Astros to have a chance at the postseason.
As for the Mariners, they surely have a sweep on their minds against Oakland, too.
However, any sort of series victory against the A’s would keep Seattle’s postseason hopes alive.
The Mariners are just two games back of a playoff spot and will have the luxury of facing the Los Angeles Angels in the final weekend of the regular season.
Seattle will have a chance to do some serious damage in that series.
The Mariners don’t control their own destiny, but their path to the postseason is very reasonable.
2. New York Yankees At Toronto Blue Jays
The New York Yankees just pulled off a massive three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox to move into the No. 1 Wild Card spot.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 27, 2021
If New York can keep things rolling against the Toronto Blue Jays, then the Yankees will likely find themselves in the Wild Card Game next week.
However, New York is almost certainly going to get Toronto’s best shot in this series.
This is the Blue Jays’ chance to make their postseason hopes a potential reality.
As seen above, Toronto trails Boston by one game and New York by two games.
A Jays sweep of the Yankees would move Toronto into a Wild Card spot.
A series victory would be less of a statement, but it would make things very interesting heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
The only thing Toronto can’t afford is a series loss.
The Blue Jays will close the season against the lowly Baltimore Orioles.
If Toronto wins its series against New York, the Jays should be able to lock up a playoff bid during their series against the O’s.
1. Philadelphia Phillies At Atlanta Braves
The NL East will be decided this week, and it may very well be determined in head-to-head fashion.
The Atlanta Braves currently have a 2.5-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, and the two teams are set to begin a three-game series on Tuesday.
The Braves can clinch the division with a sweep.
On the contrary, the Phillies can take the division lead with a sweep.
It’s going to be chaotic, and neutral fans are surely hoping for as much drama as possible.
A Game 163 is not out of the question.
But with all of that said, the Braves are still firmly in control at this point.
They really just need to avoid a sweep in this series to stay in the driver’s seat heading into the final weekend.
Discussed on the @TalkingChop podcast around the 40 minute mark last night…
1. Braves sweep Phillies, it's over
2. Braves win 2/3, they only need to win one vs. NYM (or COL) OR Phillies lose one game @ MIA
3. Braves win 1/3, they need a combo of three wins OR Philly losses
— Scott Coleman (@scottcoleman55) September 27, 2021
The picture should clear up once this series is complete.