The Baltimore Orioles are the closest to clinching. The Oakland A's looked like they might be in serious postseason trouble after Friday's series-opening loss to the Mariners, but two wins in a row in Seattle have them back in good shape. The Detroit Tigers have to be feeling good about their recent play, too.
Those weekend developments have made the American League situation a bit more clear with two weeks remaining in the regular season. Kansas City still holds the second Wild Card spot and has a one-game lead over the Mariners entering Monday as the Pulse of the Postseason ticks ever closer to Game No. 162.
In the National League, the strongest contenders are holding court. Washington is rolling to an NL East title while St. Louis is still looking good in the Central and the Dodgers did what they had to do over the weekend to keep their somewhat comfortable cushion over the second-place Giants. San Francisco and Pittsburgh remain in the driver's seat for the Wild Cards, although Milwaukee is only 1 1/2 games behind the Pirates.
IF THE POSTSEASON STARTED TODAY ...
Wild Card: Royals at A's
Division Series: Wild Card at Angels | Tigers at Orioles
Wild Card: Pirates at Giants
Division Series: Wild Card at Nationals | Cardinals at Dodgers
ODAY'S KEY GAMES TO WATCH (all times ET)
Nationals (Strasburg, 11-11) at Braves (Santana, 14-8), 7:10 p.m. Preview
Strasburg can get his personal record over .500 while cutting the Nationals' magic number in half. The Braves will lean on one of their most consistent starters this year, Ervin Santana, to stay alive.
White Sox (Danks, 9-11) at Royals (Shields, 14-7), 8:10 p.m. Preview
"Big Game James" Shields has pitched to his nickname of late, and the Royals are looking for another huge effort from him at home as they keep trying to catch the Tigers in the AL Central.
Tigers (Scherzer, 16-5) at Twins (Milone, 6-4), 8:10 p.m. Preview
The Tigers need to go on the road with their AL Central lead to protect, but they're up against a sub-.500 club, and they've got their ace, Max Scherzer, on the mound, so they've got to like their chances.
Mariners (Iwakuma, 14-7) at Angels (Shoemaker, 15-4), 10:05 p.m.Preview
An Angels win would reduce their magic number to three, and it would be fitting if it was accomplished by Matt Shoemaker, who has been a savior for manager Mike Scioscia's starting rotation this year.
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.
A tiebreaker game will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured of participating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-head record between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.
If two clubs are tied for the two Wild Card berths, home-field advantage will be determined by the head-to-head record between the clubs. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.