Not only did the Kansas City Royals clinch their first postseason appearance since 1985, they also made the overall playoff picture a little clearer. Most of the postseason’s matchups in both leagues have been determined. There is still one spot available in the American League, while all of the National League spots have been claimed.
In the AL, Kansas City could face either the Oakland Athletics or the long-shot Seattle Mariners in the one-game wild card playoff. On Saturday, the A’s will send starter Jeff Samardzija to the mound against the Texas Rangers, knowing one more victory, or a loss by the Mariners, will lock up their third straight playoff appearance.
The Royals also have a chance at stealing the AL Central from the Detroit Tigers. Detroit holds a one-game lead in the division, and has two games left against the Minnesota Twins.
Seattle is hoping to end its own playoff drought. They’ve missed every postseason since 2002. The Cleveland Indians held an outside chance, but Oakland’s 6-2 victory over Texas on Friday knocked them out.
Should Oakland prevail on Saturday, and Detroit win out, the Royals will host the one-game playoff, due to their 5-2 record against the A’s during the regular season. The winner takes on the Los Angeles Angels in one of the division series, with Detroit and the Baltimore Orioles matching up for the other.
In the NL we know that the San Francisco Giants have locked down one of the wild card berths, but who they’ll face is undecided. Both the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals at least punched their tickets for the postseason, but the Cardinals hold only a one-game lead in the NL Central over the Pirates.
Should St. Louis beat the Arizona Diamondbacks on the road Saturday, and Pittsburgh lose to the Cincinnati Reds, the Cards would take the division for the second straight year and they’d face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series.
That would also translate into the Pirates hosting the San Francisco Giants in the wild-card playoff, since they won the season-series 4-2. The victor meets the NL East champion Washington Nationals, who also guaranteed themselves home-field advantage throughout the postseason until the World Series, should they get that far.
After all these scenarios play out and we enter the postseason, the Nationals, Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers all currently sit as 9/2 favorites to win the World Series, according to Vegas Insider. The Orioles and Tigers are at 7/1, with the Cards at 7/1 and Oakland at 10/1.