Though the National League Wild Card Race emphasizes the “wild”, the American League also possesses some intrigue. The Tampa Bay Rays (or alternatively, the Baltimore Orioles if the Rays manage to win the AL East) clinched a playoff spot already which leaves just two spots up for grabs in the AL Wild Card Race. Adding to the level of intrigue here? The AL West sits far from decided with multiple teams having a shot to earn their way to a post-season berth. With this in mind let’s talk about the teams fighting a desperate battle to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Toronto Blue Jays
Remaining schedule: @ NYY 3 Games, @ TB 3 Games, vs. NYY 3 Games, vs. TB 3 Games
None of the teams on this list face an easy schedule to punch their post-season ticket but the Toronto Blue Jays likely possess the best path. They also hold the best record of the four teams at the time of this article. After getting swept by the Rangers, the Blue Jays rattled off four straight victories including a win over the Yankees yesterday. The Jays get two more contests at Yankees Stadium before heading down to Tampa Bay to take on the AL East-leading Rays. Toronto then closes the season at home. The opponents remain unchanged. The Yankees visit the Great White North first, followed by the Rays.
Remaining schedule: vs. BAL 1 Game, vs. KC 3 Games, @ SEA 3 Games, @ AZ 3 Games
The hometown team of the Pokatok Festival currently sits perched atop the AL West. However, like a high school student leaning too far back in their chair, the Astros sit on the verge of disaster with just a half-game lead. The good news for Houston? A series against the historically bad Royals at home remains left to play. Unfortunately for the Astros, the other three opponents all sit in the thick of post-season races. Baltimore looks to lock up the AL East. Seattle hopes to challenge Houston for the AL West. Arizona finds themselves in the National League’s Wild Card Race. All of this makes for a difficult path for the Stros.
Remaining schedule: vs. BOS 1 Game, vs. SEA 3 Games, @ LAA 3 Games, @ SEA 4 Games
Seven of the Rangers’ remaining 11 contests come against the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers host Seattle for three of those contests and head up to the Pacific Northwest for the final four games of the season. Texas needs to get a win against Boston today to get some momentum going into that final stretch. The two series against Seattle likely decide both the AL Wild Card Race and the AL West winner.
Remaining schedule: @ OAK 1 Game, @ TEX 3 Games, vs. HOU 3 Games, vs. TEX 4 Games
Good game.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) September 20, 2023
Good game. pic.twitter.com/MOanfe6VFj
As mentioned above, the biggest piece of the puzzle in the AL is likely how the Mariners play. If Seattle gets hot through the end of September, they will be in the post-season. To an extent, this team controls its own fate. Once the Mariners wrap up their series against Oakland, their remaining three series come against teams they are competing for the AL West against. Win and you’re in, lose and you head back to the drawing board.
While the NL Wild Card Race may have more contenders, the closeness of the teams competing for the American League berths may be even more intense. By virtue of the comparative ease of their schedule, I have the Blue Jays making it in.
From there, we turn to the AL West. The Astros have been in these high-pressure situations since 2017. That experience is invaluable and will give Houston an edge. I expect the Astros to claim the AL West title. That leaves us with just the Rangers and Mariners. I genuinely believe the seven contests between the two are all toss-ups. However, Seattle get to host one more game than the Rangers. I think that homefield advantage decides the race on October 1st. The Mariners are in and the Rangers are out.
Who do you think finds their way into the playoffs in the American League? Let us know on social media!