The playoff schedules are set... almost

Ezra Shaw - Getty Images

With one day left in the regular season, just four teams of the 10 who have already qualified for the postseason tournament know where they'll be playing their first playoff game. Here's a guide to what could happen Wednesday.

With one day remaining in the regular season, all the playoff participants are set; the last to clinch a postseason berth were the Cardinals, who got the second spot in the N.L. play-in game when the Dodgers lost to the Giants. So, St. Louis will visit Atlanta Friday for the right to move into the Division Series round.

Besides the Cardinals and Braves, with one day remaining in the season, just two of the other eight postseason qualifiers -- the Giants and Tigers -- know exactly where they will be playing come Saturday, when the Division Series commence. Detroit will be at home against "AL Division Winner #2" and San Francisco will host "NL Division Winner #2"; game times have not yet been set.

But who will those teams be? And where will the other eight rank? Let's start with the National League, because that's much more clear-cut.

If the Nationals beat the Phillies Wednesday, they get the No. 1 N.L. Seed and would play the winner of the wild-card game. If the Nats lose, they can still be No. 1 if the Reds lose to the Cardinals, because the Nats won the season series from Cincinnati. The Reds get the No. 1 N.L. seed only if they win and Washington loses.

You might want to pull up a chair (if you're not sitting), because the A.L. permutations are many.

The simplest way for the seeding in the American League to be settled is if the Yankees win their game against the Red Sox. That would give them 95 wins, the top seed, and a series against the wild-card winner. If the Yankees lose and the Orioles win Wednesday, those two teams play a tiebreaker in Baltimore Thursday, with the winner heading to the division round and the loser to the play-in game.

The winner of the Rangers/Athletics game Wednesday afternoon is the West champion; the loser goes to the play-in game, so though it's not an official Game 163 tiebreaker, it serves the same purpose.

Here's where it gets complicated regarding seeding.

Rangers: lost season series to Yankees, won season series from Orioles, so they'd be seeded No. 1 if they tie at 94 wins with the Orioles, and No. 2 if they tie at 94 wins with the Yankees.

Yankees: tied season series with Athletics, won season series from Rangers. New York would get the No. 1 seed if they tie with Texas; the third tiebreaker (best record in last 81 games of season) goes to Oakland, so if the Yankees and A's tie for the top spot, it goes to the A's.

Orioles: lost season series to Athletics, so if they wound up tied with Oakland the A's would get the higher seed.

The Rangers and A's cannot tie, as they play Wednesday afternoon with the winner getting the West title and the loser heading to the play-in game, and that eliminates any possibility that three of the four teams could have the same record.

It's never been explicitly stated, but I believe that if there is a Yankees/Orioles tie for the East title, the 162-game record would be the one considered for tiebreaking purposes for seeding -- in other words, it wouldn't be fair to the Rangers or A's to be penalized for seeding because they had played one fewer game than the winner of the East.

So, we do have a game of utmost importance Wednesday afternoon; we could have another one Thursday if the Yankees and Orioles wind up tied, and we definitely have a pair scheduled for Friday, both winner-take-all.

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