The Major League Baseball playoffs will be a little bigger this season.
And they are fast approaching: the last games on the calendar are scheduled for October 5. The playoffs begin two days later and include 12 teams, two more than last year. The new format specifically includes a best-of-three first knockout round between the champions of the division with the third best result and the three clubs who finished first in the fourth ace standings.
Multiple playoff participants could make for some very interesting matchups: The San Diego Padres and their new acquisition Juan Soto vs. the defending champion Atlanta Braves? Albert Pujols and St. Louis Cardinals vs. Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and the Philadelphia Phillies?
These two series could see the light of day depending on the results of the past week of activity.
The new first-round format is similar to the one currently used for the NCAA “super regional” round: three games will be played on three consecutive days, Oct. 7-9, at the stadium of the most competitive team. .
After this round, the series will be played according to the usual formats. The Section Series will be best of five games, while the Championship Series and World Series will be four of seven games.
Here’s a little more information about the renewed MLB series:
What’s new in the first round?
These two out of three replace the single game that has been in place since 2012.
Six teams each from America and National will qualify for the playoffs, including the winner of the three legs. The three best second-place teams in each league are added to this list.
The two best records in each league qualify for this first round. As of Monday and Tuesday, those teams would be the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in the American, and the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets in the National.
The first round will be against the other four formations. The teams ranked number 3 and 4 will host the sixth and fifth best records.
Why do the playoffs start so late?
The autumn classic will spill over into November before the champion is crowned. This is mainly related to the suspension of work last winter. A lockout imposed by the owners delayed the start of the season by a week. The players and owners were able to salvage the 162-game schedule, but to do so, the season didn’t start until April 7th, instead of March 31st.
The end of the calendar, originally planned for October 2, has been moved up by three days, hence the longer series.
What happened to the suicide match?
Game 163 is now a thing of the past. Bucky Dent for the Yankees in 1978. Matt Holliday’s game-winning drive for the Colorado Rockies in 2007: those days are over.
If there is a tie for any playoff spot, a mathematical tiebreak will be used in lieu of an extra meeting. The first will be the record between the two teams involved.
If the tie continues, the team with the highest score within the section will qualify. If that’s not enough, others are interrupted _ each more complex than the other _ until a solution is found.
Tiebreakers are unlikely to be used at American, but keep an eye out for a run at Nationals. The Braves and Mets are tied in the East, while the Milwaukee Brewers and Phillies are battling for the final playoff spot.
Who are the favorites?
The Dodgers dominated all season with a roster that included Mookie Betts, Treo Turner, Will Smith and Freddie Freeman. They could reach the 110-win plateau.
In America, the Astros already have more than 100 wins on the clock and are banking on Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez, along with possible Cy-Young winner Justin Verlander.
New Yorkers should also be taken into account. The Yankees have had a good start to the season, but are 30-31 since the All-Star break. The Mets have arguably the most depth in baseball on the mound, including two aces in Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.