MLB 2023 Playoffs: Closing scenarios, bracket, schedule

espnSeptember 9, 2023 at 02:31 PM ET4 minutes to read

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There are still weeks left in the 2023 MLB regular season, but a few teams — especially the Atlanta Braves — are already looking ahead to October.

The Braves, along with the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers, are on track to secure a postseason berth soon. Meanwhile, clubs like the Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs are vying for the remaining spots.

Aside from the divisional races, there are several storylines to watch as the regular season ends and October begins.

Where do the current qualifying matches stand? What games should you pay attention to today? How can the Braves be the first team to clinch a postseason berth? What does the qualifying schedule look like? We’ve got everything you need to know as the regular season winds down.

Main links: Complete MLB Standings | Wild Card Ranking | Best playoff races

Who can clinch a place in the playoffs then?

Atlanta Braves

The Braves are about to become the first team to earn a ticket to this year’s MLB playoffs. Atlanta can clinch a postseason berth with a win on Saturday.

What are the MLB October playoffs like now?

American League

Wild Card Round: (6) Blue Jays at (3) Twins, (5) Mariners at (4) Rays

ALDS: Twins/Blue Jays vs. (2) Houston, Rays/Mariners vs. (1) Orioles

National League

Wild-Card Round: (6) Diamondbacks at (3) Brewers, (5) Cubs at (4) Phillies

NLDS: Brewers/Marlins vs. (2) Dodgers, Phillies/Cubs vs. (1) Braves

Breaking the AL race

Despite spending most of the season atop the AL East, the Rays found themselves the top Wild Card team in the American League after the Orioles captured first place in the division in late July. There are still two other members of the AL East in contention for the playoffs, although the Boston Red Sox’ chances are slowly dwindling. On the other hand, the Toronto Blue Jays are in a close battle for the final spot.

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Their competition? The Texas Rangers, like the Rays, led the division for more than 100 days this season but now find themselves fighting for a spot in the postseason. The Mariners, who usurped the Rangers atop the AL West, and the Houston Astros, are now in contention for the division title, while the Minnesota Twins appear to be the sole representative of the AL Central in October.

What about when these teams reach the playoffs? Here are their chances in each round of qualifying:

Breaking the NL race

The division races in the National League aren’t quite as close as those in the AL, with the Braves and Dodgers locking up the NL East and NL West, respectively. The Milwaukee Brewers have long held first place in the NL Central, but the Cubs are within striking distance of replacing them.

Now, the wild card race is where it gets exciting. While the Phillies and Cubs have a firm hold on the first two wild-card spots, four teams — the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants — are within a few games of each other for the final spot. Miami and Cincinnati are the big surprises, as neither team was thought to be a playoff contender entering the season. Meanwhile, Arizona finds itself in the wild-card chase despite leading the Dodgers atop the division for parts of the first half.

What about when these teams reach the playoffs? Here are their chances in each round of qualifying:

Game of the day

Need something to watch today? Here’s the baseball game with the biggest playoff impacts:

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Qualifying schedule

Wild Card Series
Best of three matches, all at Better Seed Stadium

First match: Tuesday, October 3
The second match: Wednesday, October 4
Third match: Thursday, October 5*

Division series
Better than five

First match: Saturday, October 7
The second match: Sunday, October 8
The third match: Tuesday, October 10
Fourth match: Wednesday, October 11*
Fifth match: Friday, October 13*

First match: Saturday, October 7
Second match: Monday, October 9
The third match: Wednesday, October 11
Fourth match: Thursday, October 12*
Fifth match: Saturday, October 14*

League Championship Series
Better than seven

First match: Sunday, October 15
The second match: Monday, October 16th
Third match: Wednesday 18 October
Fourth match: Thursday 19 October
Match 5: Friday 20 October*
Match 6: Sunday 22 October*
Match 7: Monday 23 October*

First match: Monday 16 October
The second match: Tuesday 17 October
Third match: Thursday 19 October
Fourth match: Friday, October 20
Match 5: Saturday 21 October*
Match 6: Monday 23 October*
Match 7: Tuesday 24 October*

World Series
Better than seven

First match: Friday 27 October
The second match: Saturday 28 October
The third match: Monday, October 30
Fourth match: Tuesday 31 October
Fifth match: Wednesday, November 1*
Sixth match: Friday, November 3*
Seventh match: Saturday, November 4*

*If necessary

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