The 2023 Major League Baseball regular season is heading into its final weekend, and the competition for playoff spots remains intense. As of now, there are still five playoff positions up for grabs, adding an extra layer of excitement to the season's conclusion.
One noteworthy development is the Baltimore Orioles, who secured their first AL East title since 2014 in a dramatic fashion on a wild Thursday night in MLB action. The Mariners played spoiler, denying the Texas Rangers a clinched playoff berth with a thrilling walk-off victory. Additionally, a suspended game between the Marlins and Mets has left its conclusion hanging until possibly Monday.
Friday night did not bring any playoff-clinching victories for any team, keeping the race for those coveted postseason spots wide open.
Currently, seven teams have already secured their playoff berths: the Braves, Dodgers, Orioles, Rays, Twins, Brewers, and Phillies. However, with five spots still available, the Rangers, Blue Jays, and Astros are clinging to their positions, while the Mariners, Cubs, and Reds are still in contention.
The Rangers have a chance to secure a playoff berth with just one more win against the Mariners this weekend and could potentially clinch the AL West title with two wins. Meanwhile, the Astros are in a crucial series against the Diamondbacks that could see both teams secure playoff spots. The Cubs are facing the Brewers but are also relying on help from the Pirates, who are hosting the Marlins at PNC Park. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, have an opportunity to clinch a wild-card spot on Saturday night against their AL East rival, the Rays.
In terms of playoff seeding, the National League's top four seeds are already locked in place: the Braves hold the No. 1 seed, followed by the Dodgers at No. 2, while the Brewers and Phillies claim the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, respectively. The Braves and Dodgers have secured byes to the NLCS, while the Brewers and Phillies will host the Wild Card Series next week.
In the American League, three seeds have already been secured: the Orioles hold the No. 1 seed, the Twins claim the No. 3 seed, and the Rays are in the No. 4 position. The Rangers have a shot at the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye if they can secure the AL West.
It's worth noting that the 2023 MLB playoff picture is missing some notable teams that were expected to contend. The Padres, Yankees, Mets, and Cardinals, all playoff teams in 2022, have had disappointing seasons and are unlikely to make the postseason. The Angels also saw their playoff hopes dashed in August, leading to Shohei Ohtani being shut down for the season.
As a reminder, MLB has adopted a 12-team playoff format, with the three division winners and three wild card teams from each league qualifying for the postseason. The two division winners with the best records in each league receive byes to the League Division Series, while the other eight teams compete in a best-of-three Wild Card Series.