When are playoffs for baseball ? While some races have been decided for a while — the Braves and Dodgers have been clear division winners for some time — others, like the race for the AL West and the final NL wild card spots, went into the final week of MLB action to be decided, before the Astros won the division and the Marlins and Diamondbacks earned the final two NL wild cards.
Now, the season-long chase has reached its destination: the MLB postseason. In total, there are 12 teams competing in the playoffs, six in each league, with three wild cards joining the three division winners in the field.
2023 MLB Playoffs format
The National League and American League each send six teams to the postseason, three division winners from each league and three Wild Card teams, the non-division winners with the best records.
The No. 1 seed in each league goes to the team with the best overall record in that league.
The No. 2 seed goes to the division winner with the next best record, while the No. 3 seed goes to the remaining division winner.
The team with the best record that did not win its division gets the No. 4 seed, with the Wild Card team with the second-best record getting the No. 5 seed and the team with the third getting the No. 6 seed.
It pays to be the top two seeds. Those teams get byes straight into the Division Series, while the No. 3 seed takes on the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed takes on the No. 5 seed in the first round of the postseason, the Wild Card round.
The Wild Card round is played at the higher seed over three days, with whoever winning the best-of-3 series advancing to the Divisional Round.
The winner of the series between the No. 4 and No. 5 seed will face the No. 1 seed in the Divisional Round and the other series will be the No. 2 seed against the No. 3 or No. 6 seed series winner.
The Divisional Round is a best-of-5 five games, with the first two at the higher seed, Games 3 and 4 at the lower seed and the deciding fifth game, if necessary, at the higher seed.
The winners of the Divisional Round advance to play in the League Championship Series and the World Series, which are best-of-7. The higher seeds get to host the first two games and the last two games of the series, with the lower seed getting the middle three games.
Home-field advantage in the World Series goes to the team with the best record in the regular season, not to the league that won the All-Star Game.
2023 MLB end of season tiebreakers
MLB teams used to play a tiebreaker game at the end of the season if they were tied, but that is no longer the case.
MLB adapted a tiebreaker system to resolve ties and eliminate tie-breaker games at the conclusion of the regular season.
Tiebreakers are first broken by head-to-head records, then it goes to records in your own division, if needed.
A third tiebreaker, if needed is which team has a better record in league games that were not in your division.
In the unlikely event of another tie, the fourth tiebreaker is a team’s record in their league over the second half of the season.
2023 MLB postseason TV information
MLB Wild Card Series games will air on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
Divisional Round games will be shown on FOX or FS1 for the American League and TBS for the National League.
FOX or FS1 will also air the ALCS. TBS will air the NLCS.
The World Series is scheduled to air on FOX.
Baltimore Orioles vs. (5) Texas Rangers
Just two years after losing 110 games, the Orioles had the AL’s best record this season − due in large part to an exciting young core of players like SS/3B Gunnar Henderson, the overwhelming favorite for AL rookie of the year. The biggest question for the Orioles is how much gas their young pitching staff has in the tank. Starters Kyle Bradish, 26, Dean Kremer, 27, and Grayson Rodriguez, 23, have long surpassed career highs in innings pitched for a season. And the bullpen has been taxed down the stretch following the loss of closer Felix Bautista to an elbow injury.
A late-season slide cost the Rangers a division title and a first-round bye, but they righted the ship in the wild card round, allowing only one run in a pair of victories at Tampa Bay. The AL’s most potent offense (5.4 runs per game) is led by RF Adolis Garcia (39 HR, 107 RBI) and the powerful double-play combination of SS Corey Seager and 2B Marcus Semien.
Pitching will be the big question mark for Texas after losing Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Jon Gray to injuries and using their best remaining starters (Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi) to get past the Rays.
Atlanta Braves vs. (4) Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta has been the best team in baseball all season, racking up 104 wins, hitting a record-tying 307 home runs and posting the highest slugging percentage by a team in history (.501). MVP front-runner Ronald Acuña Jr. had a statistical season for the ages, but he has plenty of help from 1B Matt Olson (major league-leading 54 HR, 139 RBI), DH Marcell Ozuna (40 HR, 100 RBI) and 2B Ozzie Albies (33 HR, 109 RBI). The Braves’ one weak spot may be in their starting pitching. While Spencer Strider led the majors with 281 strikeouts, he was susceptible to giving up a big inning. No. 2 starter Max Fried has been dealing with a blister issue and hasn’t pitched since Sept. 21.
The Phillies upset the division-champion Braves in last year’s NLDS, fueling their improbable run to the World Series. The formula for making history repeat itself is largely the same: rely on strong starting pitching and timely hitting. Right-handers Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola allowed a combined one earned run in 13 ⅓ innings vs. the Marlins. Meanwhile, 2B Bryson Stott grabbed the spotlight with his excellent defense and a clutch grand slam. The big difference between this year’s Phillies and last year’s is the addition of SS Trea Turner, who struggled mightily for the first four months (10 HR, .657 OPS in 107 games), but caught fire (16 HR, 1.057 OPS in 48 games) after Philly fans reaffirmed their support by giving him an unexpected standing ovation on Aug. 4.
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