Charting the Twins’ path to the playoffs

October baseball is just a few weeks away, and the Minnesota Twins would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

The Twins have a one-game lead on the Los Angeles Angels and a 2 1/2-game lead on the Kansas City Royals for possession of the American League’s second wild card heading into a six-game home stand.

Team Record WCGB Win %
New York Yankees 77-65 +3.5 .542
Minnesota Twins 74-69 .517
Los Angeles Angels 73-70 1.0 .510
Kansas City Royals 71-71 2.5 .500
Texas Rangers 71-71 2.5 .500
Baltimore Orioles 71-72 3.0 .497
Seattle Mariners 71-72 3.0 .497
Tampa Bay Rays 71-73 3.5 .493

After dropping back-to-back games to the Royals they have — according to Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds simulation — a 46.6 percent chance of advancing to the postseason.

MLB.com has their chances at 43.1 percent.

The Twins have six series left on the schedule, and four of them are against teams currently sitting below .500 and well out of playoff range.

Team Record Series Location
San Diego Padres 65-79 2 games Home
Toronto Blue Jays 66-77 4 games Home
New York Yankees 77-65 3 games Away
Detroit Tigers 60-82 4 games Away
Cleveland Indians 87-56 3 games Away
Detroit Tigers 60-82 3 games Home

That big road trip in the middle should be a little scary, but the road to a wild card is even tougher for their closest competitor.

The Angels start the week at home against the Houston Astros (86-57) and the Texas Rangers (71-71), then host the Indians (see above) next week.

Then it’s Houston (again), followed by a four-game road set with the Chicago White Sox (56-86) and a three-game home stand against the Seattle Mariners (71-72).

It’s a pretty palatable formula: Cheer for the Astros, the Rangers and (briefly) the Indians. If the Twins can hold serve against the lesser teams left on the schedule, they should be okay.

Now, here’s where things get … tricky.

The Yankees are 3 1/2 games up on the Twins, and looking like a virtual lock to take one of the wild cards (86.1 percent, per MLB.com).

It is not — by any means — an insurmountable lead, and falling short would mean a one-game playoff at Yankee Stadium for the right to advance to the postseason proper.

But for the teams chasing the Twins to lose, and with the Indians standing in Minnesota’s way they might need to, the Yankees will need to win.

A lot.

The Yankees play teams that are currently within striking distance of the second wild card spot 11 times over their remaining 20 games.

Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Kansas City are all within 3 1/2 games of the Twins, and they’re all up next for Aaron Judge and the Yankees.

So while the pressure will be on when the Twins head to the Bronx next week, Twins fans will want to put those feelings aside pretty quickly once the series is over.