MLB playoff odds Sept. 18: Rangers stop skid, Nats still fighting for a spot

Harry How

Taking a look at the latest MLB post-season odds from Cool Standings and Baseball Prospectus.

With around 11-12 games left for each club, we're finally getting to the point in the season where certain playoff hopefuls are simply running out of time. The teams on the outskirts can keep on winning, but it won't matter unless they get some serious help from the clubs ahead of them.

Let's check in on the postseason odds in the American League: Baseball Prospectus
Team Wins Losses Div WC POFF Div WC POFF
Red Sox 92 60 99.9 <0.1 100 100 0 100
Tigers 88 63 99.8 0.2 99.9 99.8 0.2 100
Athletics 89 62 99.8 0.2 99.9 99.6 0.4 100
Rays 82 68 <0.1 51.8 51.8 0 69.3 69.3
Indians 82 69 0.2 68.3 68.5 0.2 54.2 54.3
Rangers 82 68 0.2 58.9 59.0 0.4 62.3 62.7
Orioles 80 70 <0.1 10.3 10.3 0 8.4 8.4
Royals 79 72 <0.1 6.7 6.7 0 2.9 2.9
Yankees 79 72 0.0 3.7 3.7 0 2.4 2.4

The Rangers finally remembered how to win a baseball game, stopping their season-worst skid at seven. The victory gave them a nearly nine-point boost in their playoff chances, but they've still lost about 30 points in the last week. Texas is now back to even with the Tampa Bay Rays, who seem to be sitting (somewhat) pretty according to BP's odds but are behind both the Rangers and the Indians per Cool Standings.

Speaking of the Tribe, a late-inning comeback win over the Royals on Tuesday keeps Cleveland just a half game out of both Wild Card spots, increasing their October odds by a full eight points. The uncharacteristic bullpen implosion from KC that led to the Indians win may end up being the nail in the coffin for the Royals. Their odds are a bit better than the same-record Yankees, but they've fallen behind the Orioles yet again and are simply running out of real estate.

Baltimore squeaked out a win over the Red Sox Tuesday night, keeping them two back in the Wild Card race. If they can manage at least one more against Boston in the next two nights, their odds should increase greatly entering their four-game set against the Rays.

Meanwhile, Detroit continued its winning ways, dropping its magic number to six.

Team Wins Losses Div WC POFF Div WC POFF
Braves 89 62 99.9 <0.1 99.9 100 0 100
Dodgers 87 64 99.9 0 99.9 100 0 100
Cardinals 88 63 74.2 25.6 99.8 65.2 34.6 99.8
Pirates 87 64 17.1 81.8 98.9 20.9 78.6 99.5
Reds 86 66 8.7 88.8 97.5 13.9 83.5 97.4
Nationals 81 70 <0.1 3.8 3.8 0.0 3.3 3.3

The "running out of time" caveat in the intro was meant for the Nationals, who continue to win at a torrid rate but don't seem to be getting any help from the clubs ahead of them in the Wild Card race.

Washington took both legs of their day/night double-header against the Braves on Tuesday, but watched helplessly as their odds increased by just one percentage point. Wins by the Reds and the Cardinals essentially canceled out the Nats' pair of victories and, unless one of them decides to go into a perilous slide in the last week-plus of the season, that's going to continue until Washington is mathematically eliminated.

The Nats' best chance is to hope that the Cardinals lose a majority of their next five games, putting DC in position to mostly control their own fate when they head into St. Louis next week. That may be difficult to guarantee considering the Cards are facing the Rockies and Brewers.

The Dodgers stopped their losing streak at four Tuesday and can become 2013's first playoff-clinching team with another win on Wednesday.

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