American League Wild Card, AL West Race Come Down to Final Weekend

Posted on: September 29, 2023, 01:56h. 

Last updated on: September 29, 2023, 02:06h.

Heading into the final weekend of MLB’s regular season, three teams are fighting for the final two spots in the American League wild card, including the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners.

AL Wild Card race Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners shortstop J.C. Crawford celebrates with his teammates after a walk-off, game-winning hit against the Texas Rangers to keep their playoff hopes alive. (Image: AP)

The Tampa Bay Rays (97-62) locked up the first AL wild-card spot, but they won’t have ace Shane McClanahan in the postseason after he underwent Tommy John surgery.

Two more AL wild-card berths are at stake with three games remaining. If the season ended today, the Blue Jays (88-71) and Astros (87-72) would secure the other two AL wild-card spots. The Mariners (86-73) are currently on the postseason bubble, and trail the Blue Jays by two games and the Astros by one game.

The AL West title is still up for grabs, but the first-place Texas Rangers (89-70) control their own destiny. They hold a two-game lead over the Astros and a three-game lead over the Mariners. The winner of the AL West secures an automatic berth to the playoffs. There’s a scenario in which the AL West sends three teams to the playoffs if the Blue Jays falter and the Mariners win their weekend series against the Rangers.

Blue Jays Sitting Pretty

The Blue Jays finish out the season hosting a three-game homestand against the Rays in an AL East divisional throwdown. Both teams have a 5-5 record against each other this season.

The Blue Jays are currently in the second AL wild-card spot. They have a one-game lead over the Astros and a two-game lead over the Mariners. The Blue Jays also hold a tiebreaker edge over the Astros with a 4-3 record against them this season.

The Blue Jays can clinch the wild card with a combination of two victories or two losses by the Mariners.

In the 2022 postseason, the Blue Jays were an AL wild-card squad. The Blue Jays are a huge favorite to make the playoffs at -2000 odds, and a long shot to miss the postseason at +1100 odds. FanGraphs estimates the Blue Jays have a 93.7% chance to qualify for the playoffs.

In AL pennant odds, the Blue Jays are one of the long shots on the board at +800 odds to win the ALCS. The Blue Jays are +1800 odds to win the World Series. They’re seeking their first championship since securing back-to-back championships in 1993 when they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies courtesy of a walk-off home run by Joe Carter in Game 6.

Astros Seek to Defend World Series Title

The Astros occupy second place in the AL West, and they trail the first-place Texas Rangers (89-70) by two games. The Rangers, who lost veteran pitcher Max Scherzer to a muscle injury, can lock up a division title with a combination of two victories or two losses by the Astros.

The Rangers are the betting favorite to win the AL West at -750 odds, and the Astros are +900 odds to clinch a third-straight division crown.

The Astros head to Arizona to play a three-game series against the Diamondbacks (84-75) this weekend. The Diamondbacks currently hold down a National League wild-card spot, which isn’t guaranteed, so they’re also in the middle of a fierce NL wild-card race.

The Astros are -255 odds to advance to the playoffs for a shot to defend their World Series title. They’re +210 odds to miss the playoffs if the Mariners make a run this weekend. According to a postseason projection by FanGraphs, the Astros have a 76% chance to secure a trip to the playoffs.

The Astros are +650 odds to win the AL pennant. They appeared in the ALCS in each of the last six seasons. They’re seeking a third-straight AL pennant, and won the AL pennant four times in the last six postseasons.

The Astros are +1300 odds to win the 2023 World Series and FanGraphs projects they have a 9.8% chance to repeat. The Astros are the defending champions and won the World Series twice since 2017. They were also a runner-up in 2019 and 2021.

Winning the World Series in consecutive seasons is a difficult task, and the New York Yankees were the last repeat champion when they pulled off a three-peat in 2001.

Mariners Still Have a Glimmer of Hope

The Mariners blew a three-game lead in the AL West, and find themselves on the postseason bubble after a dismal September. They headed into the final weekend of the season just one game out of the AL wild card. They trail the Astros by one game and the Blue Jays by two games.

The Mariners host the Rangers for a three-game series to end the season, but the Rangers dominated the Mariners with an 8-2 record in 10 divisional games this season.

If the Mariners sweep the Rangers, they’ll put themselves in the best spot to secure an AL wild-card berth. They’re also rooting for the Diamondbacks and Rays this weekend to pummel the Astros and Blue Jays.

The Mariners are +150 odds to make the playoffs. You can fade them at -180 odds. FanGraphs projects that the Mariners have a 32.9% chance to make the playoffs.

The Mariners joined the AL as an expansion team in 1977. In their franchise history, they advanced to the playoffs only five times including last year as a wild-card squad.

The Mariners are a long shot to win the World Series at +3000 odds, and they’re +1500 odds to win the AL pennant. The Mariners have never won an AL pennant, and they’re the only team in MLB history that never appeared in the World Series.