clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Here’s how we can get a 4-team tie between the Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Rockies

New, comment

Want two days of extra baseball before the playoffs? Here’s how it could happen.

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

With one week left in the Major League Baseball regular season, two divisions and two Wild Card spots are still up for grabs in the National League. The teams in contention are bunched close enough together that a dream scenario is still alive — a four-team tie, with even a sliver of hope for a five-team tie.

The Atlanta Braves have already clinched the National League East, so their playoff berth is secure. There are four spots still up for grabs, and five teams still alive:

National League standings

Division Team W-L Pct Playoff magic # Division magic # Remaining schedule
Division Team W-L Pct Playoff magic # Division magic # Remaining schedule
NL Central Cubs 91-64 0.587 2 5 PIT, STL
NL Central Brewers 89-67 0.571 4 10 @STL, DET
NL West Dodgers 87-69 0.558 6 6 @ARI, @SF
NL Central Cardinals 87-69 0.558 6 12 MIL, @CHC
NL West Rockies 85-70 0.548 9 9 PHI, WAS
through September 23

The Chicago Cubs own a 2½-game lead in the National League Central and with a magic number of just two to clinch at least a playoff berth their inclusion in our possible tiebreaker would require a massive collapse in the final week. That is unlikely so for now let’s put Chicago on the back burner.

The St. Louis Cardinals have the toughest schedule in the final week, playing both teams ahead of them in the NL Central. The Milwaukee Brewers and Cardinals meet for three games beginning Monday night in St. Louis, with the Brewers owning a two-game lead for the top Wild Card spot.

That series is key to securing a tie of more than two teams, something that has never happened in Major League history. Two-team tiebreakers are great, and three-teamers are even better. But here’s how things could devolve into pure chaos in the National League.

In a massive tiebreak, the final victory total would have to be between 90 and 92 wins. One of the Brewers and Cardinals is guaranteed at least 90 wins; a St. Louis sweep gets them to exactly that number by Wednesday, and anything less means Milwaukee adds at least one to their current win total of 89.

The higher end of the scale is where the Colorado Rockies would end up if they win all seven remaining games. That the Cubs are already at 91 wins makes it all the more unlikely they would join the chaos. But imagine just for a moment that Chicago does collapse and we do get our five-team tie.

The scenario is so unlikely that MLB in its official rules does not even account for a tie of more than four teams. It would require a scenario devised by the commissioner’s office that is not yet known. If you want anarchy, this is your dream landscape.

Here is how these teams would have to finish to tie at between 90-92 wins.

How the NL could end in a massive tiebreaker

Team W-L 90 wins 91 wins 92 wins
Team W-L 90 wins 91 wins 92 wins
Cubs 91-64 n/a 0-7 1-6
Brewers 89-67 1-5 2-4 3-3
Dodgers 87-69 3-3 4-2 5-1
Cardinals 87-69 3-3 4-2 5-1
Rockies 85-70 5-2 6-1 7-0

The Cardinals taking at least two of three games against the Brewers sure would enhance our chances of a tiebreaker of more than two teams. If, for example, St. Louis sweeps Milwaukee then drops two of three games to the Cubs, the Brewers would need to beat the Tigers in two of three game to preserve that tie. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Rockies could join them both at 91 wins with strong weeks against National League teams that have mostly vanished in September.

Should the Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Rockies all end up tied at either 90, 91, or 92 wins, that would be four teams for three playoff spots. This is how things would be decided:

Monday, Oct. 1
Rockies at Dodgers for the NL West (LA won 11 of 18 games head-to-head)
Cardinals vs. Brewers for a Wild Card spot (They are 8-8 against each other. Home field TBD)

Tuesday, Oct. 2
NL West loser vs. Cardinals/Brewers loser for the other Wild Card spot

Home field for this Tuesday game would depend on head-to-head results in the regular season. The scenarios are:
Rockies at Cardinals
Dodgers at Cardinals
Rockies at Brewers
Brewers at Dodgers

These tiebreaker games are all technically regular-season games, but most importantly they are extra baseball, with a lot at stake in each game. Having two days worth of extra games would also necessitate a change to the current postseason schedule, since the NL Wild Card Game is scheduled for Tuesday night. Such a scenario would likely move the NL Wild Card Game to Wednesday, the same day as the AL Wild Card Game.

The NL Division Series starts on Thursday, Oct. 4, and in the case of a four-team tie the winner of the Wild Card Game will have played five games in a five-day span, likely against five different opponents. That’s fun.

We nearly saw two days of extra baseball in 2013, when the Indians, Rangers, and Rays were a day away from a potential three-team tie for two Wild Card spots. Then the Indians had to ruin the fun by winning on the final day of the season, leaving us with a boring old two-team tiebreaker game.

This year we demand more. Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Rockies, you know what to do.