After their third straight shutout win last night, the Atlanta Braves stretched their lead in the National League East to 13.5 games over the Phillies and currently sport the best record in baseball at 79-42. Entering the final quarter of the season, it is fair to start wondering about the playoff picture this season.
Things could certainly change especially since the battle for National League wild card spots is pretty fierce and the National League Central is still a competitive race. However, the current playoff picture seems like it would be pretty close to what we can expect in October barring some wild stuff happening.
If the season ended today, the Braves would have home field advantage throughout the playoffs
As of 8/19, the current seeds for the playoffs on the National League side of things are as follows:
1.) Atlanta Braves - Get a first round bye
2.) LA Dodgers - Get a first round bye
3.) Milwaukee Brewers - Lead NL Central
4.) Philadelphia Phillies - Top WC spot
5.) San Francisco Giants - Second WC spot
6.) Cincinnati Reds - Third WC spot
Of note is that the Marlins are actually tied with the Reds for the last wild card spot but the Reds hold the tiebreaker with the Cubs a game back and Arizona two games out. With the new MLB playoff structure put in place during the last CBA negotiations, the top two seeds in each league get first round byes while the 3/6 seeds and 4/5 seeds match up in the first round. The Braves and the Dodgers are overwhelming favorites for those top two spots with the Braves several games ahead in the race to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Assuming this holds, the Braves would face the winner of the 4/5 seed matchup which would be the Phillies and Giants. This wouldn't necessarily be ideal as the Phillies are a spooky team to face in a short series given their starting pitching, but one can hope that the Giants can pull an upset their as the Braves matchup against San Francisco does seem more favorable.
Over in the American League, things are a bit more fluid. The Orioles and Rangers currently occupy the top two spots in the league, but both of them are in tighter division races. They are followed by the Twins, Rays, Astros, and Mariners in playoff seeding for the moment with the Blue Jays just a half game out of a playoff spot.