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.
|New York Yankees||77-65||+3.5||.542|
|Los Angeles Angels||73-70||1.0||.510|
|Kansas City Royals||71-71||2.5||.500|
|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.
|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.
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.