We have one playoff spot to be decided, one division title still to clinch, and a very big round number to reach. Here’s what to watch this final weekend of the regular season:
National League wild-card race
It’s down to the Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers, with the Rockies two games up and hosting the Dodgers with the Brewers on the road in St. Louis. The Rockies clinch with two wins. We get a tie if the Brewers sweep and the Rockies win once. And against all odds, the Brewers win if they sweep and the Rockies get swept. The pitching matchups:
World Series home-field advantage
Remember, the team with the best record gets home-field advantage in the World Series, replacing the team whose league won the All-Star Game, which had been in place since 2003. Here’s how we stand heading into the weekend:
Red Sox: 92
What happens if two teams with the same record meet? Based on the tiebreaker formula, this is who gets home-field advantage:
Dodgers over Indians (won season series 2-1)
Nationals over Astros (won season series 2-1)
Diamondbacks over Red Sox (better intradivision record)
Red Sox over Cubs (won season series 2-1)
Yankees over Cubs (won season series 3-0)
AL East still to be decided
The best the Yankees can hope for is a tie, as they need to win all three from the Blue Jays while hoping the Astros win all three from the Red Sox. Note that the Yankees play an afternoon game on Friday, so the Red Sox could actually clinch the division during batting practice. The Yankees won the season series, so a tie-breaker game would be Monday at Yankee Stadium.
Giancarlo Stanton one away from 60 home runs
With two home runs on Thursday, the big guy is now sitting at 59. With two home runs he ties Roger Maris for the most home runs by somebody other than Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa. The Marlins are hosting the Braves, who will throw three rookie starters: Luiz Gohara, Lucas Sims and Max Fried.
NL MVP race
Does Stanton become the favorite if he gets to 60? If Nolan Arenado or Charlie Blackmon have a monster game as the Rockies clinch, do one of them become the favorite? Is Paul Goldschmidt the favorite? I think it’s probably down to those four, with Joey Votto having a strong statistical argument, but playing for a last-place team.
Of course, Stanton also plays on a losing team. Since 2000, only Alex Rodriguez has won an MVP Award playing for a sub-.500 team.
Astros go for 100 wins
If they get there, it will be the first season since 2003 with three 100-win teams and just the sixth in history (also 2002, 1998, 1977 and 1942).
The Astros are just one game behind the Indians for best record in the American League, but the Indians hold the tiebreaker, so Cleveland effectively holds a two-game lead. The Indians…