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Laying out all of Sunday’s AL Wildcard scenarios

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Laying out every possible scenario for what promises to be a wild Sunday.

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Boston Red Sox v Washington Nationals Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Today is going to be a wild day of baseball. When MLB implemented their new schedule in which all of the final games of the season are played at the same time, they were hoping to recapture that 2011 magic. (Well, magic for all non-Red Sox fans, at least.) This year, they have as good a chance as they’ve had in some time in capitalizing on the potential excitement, and the Red Sox are once again caught up in it.

With Boston, Toronto, and Seattle all winning on Saturday, and the Yankees losing to the Rays, there are now four teams all within one game fighting for the two American League Wildcard spots. With four teams, none of whom are playing each other, in the mix, there are a whole lot of different ways things can shake out. We’re going to run through each of the scenarios below. For reference, here are how the standings look now.

AL Wildcard Standings

Rank Team Wins Losses GB
Rank Team Wins Losses GB
1 BOS 91 70 --
2 NYY 91 70 --
3 TOR 90 71 1
4 SEA 90 71 1

And here are the scenarios.

Red Sox win

Let’s start with this, first and foremost. If the Red Sox win, they are guaranteed to advance to — and host — the Wildcard Game with no other games necessary. They win, and they can sit back and relax.

Red Sox and Yankees win

Here, the Yankees and Red Sox would be tied, and neither Toronto nor Seattle could catch them. Boston owns the tiebreaker over New York, so the Yankees would travel to Fenway for the Wildcard Game.

This is the scenario that would be least fun for the people out there rooting for mass chaos. And for Red Sox fans, if they win, they are rooting for the Yankees to lose.

Okay, now we start to get into the juicier stuff

Red Sox win, Yankees lose, Blue Jays win, Mariners lose

The Red Sox would clinch the top seed. Seattle would be eliminated, while the Blue Jays and Yankees would play a Game 163 in Toronto. The winner would travel to Fenway for the Wildcard Game

Red Sox win, Yankees lose, Blue Jays lose, Mariners win

The Red Sox would clinch the top seed. Toronto would be eliminated, while the Yankees and Mariners would play a Game 163 in New York. The winner would travel to Fenway for the Wildcard Game

Red Sox win, Yankees lose, Blue Jays lose, Mariners lose

The Red Sox would host the Yankees in the Wildcard Game.

Red Sox win, Yankees lose, Blue Jays win, Mariners win

(Ed. Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated Club C would host the second game.)

The Red Sox would clinch the top seed. New York, Toronto, and Seattle would be in a three-way tie for one spot. In this scenario, teams would be able to choose their designations as Clubs A, B, and C. Toronto would pick first, then New York, then Seattle, based on their collective records against the other teams. Club A would host Club B, and then Club C would travel to play the winner. The winner of the second game would travel to Boston for the Wildcard Game. Practically speaking, that means Toronto would have to choose between winning two at home (Club A) or one on the road (Club C).

This would be the best scenario for the Red Sox.

Red Sox lose, Yankees win, Blue Jays win, Mariners win

The Yankees would clinch the top seed. Boston would be in a three-way tie with Seattle. In this scenario, teams would be able to choose their designations as Clubs A, B, and C. Boston would pick first, then Seattle, then Toronto, as Boston won the season series against both clubs, and Seattle won theirs over Toronto. Club A would host Club B, with the winner then traveling to play Club C. The winner of the second game would travel to New York for the Wildcard Game. Practically speaking, Boston would almost certainly be Club C, Seattle would be Club A, and Toronto would be Club B.

Red Sox lose, Yankees win, Blue Jays win, Mariners lose

The Yankees would clinch the top seed. Boston and Toronto would be tied for the second spot and would play a Game 163 at Fenway. The winner would travel to New York for the Wildcard Game

Red Sox lose, Yankees win, Blue Jays lose, Mariners win

The Yankees would clinch the top seed. Boston and Seattle would be tied for the second spot and would play a Game 163 at Fenway. The winner would travel to New York for the Wildcard Game.

Red Sox lose, Yankees win, Blue Jays lose, Mariners lose

The Red Sox would travel to New York for the Wildcard Game.

Red Sox lose, Yankees lose, Blue Jays lose, Mariners lose

The Red Sox would host New York for the Wildcard Game.

Red Sox lose, Yankees lose, Blue Jays win, Mariners lose

In this scenario, Boston, New York, and Toronto would be tied for two spots. The three clubs would pick their designations as Club A, Club B, and Club C, based on season series records. Boston would have first selection having won both season series, and Toronto would have second pick by winning their season series with New York. Club A would host Club B, with the winner going to the Wildcard Game and the loser traveling to Club C, with the winner of that game being the second Wildcard Game participant. Practically speaking, Boston would be Club A, and most likely Toronto would be Club B, and New York would be Club C.

Red Sox lose, Yankees lose, Blue Jays lose, Mariners win

In this scenario, Boston, New York, and Seattle would be tied for two spots. The three clubs would pick their designations as Club A, Club B, and Club C, based on season series records. Boston would have first selection having won both season series, and New York would have second pick by winning their season series with Seattle. Club A would host Club B, with the winner going to the Wildcard Game and the loser traveling to Club C, with the winner of that game being the second Wildcard Game participant. Practically speaking, Boston would be Club A, and most likely New York would be Club B, and Seattle would be Club C.

Red Sox lose, Yankees lose, Blue Jays win, Mariners win (AKA Mass Chaos)

In this scenario, there would be a four-way tie for two spots. The four clubs would pick their designations as Club A, Club B, Club C, and Club D based on their collective records against the other three clubs. The Red Sox would have first pick, followed by Toronto, New York, and Seattle. Club A would host Club B, while Club C would host Club D. The two winners would face off in the Wildcard Game. The most likely matchups in this scenario would be Boston hosting New York and Toronto hosting Seattle.


Get all that?! The opponents and pitching matchups for all games are below. All games start around 3:00 PM ET.

BOS @ WAS: Chris Sale (5-1, 2.90 ERA) vs. Joan Adon (-)

NYY vs. TB: Jameson Taillon (8-6, 4.40) vs. Michael Wacha (3-5, 5.26)

TOR vs. BAL: Hyun Jin Ryu (13-10, 4.39) vs. Bruce Zimmermann (4-4, 4.66)

SEA vs. LAA: Tyler Anderson (7-10, 4.41) vs. Reid Detmers (1-3, 7.11)