MLB Division Tiebreakers: What Happens if Giants & Dodgers Tie Atop NL West Standings?

MLB Division Tiebreakers: What Happens if Giants & Dodgers Tie Atop NL West Standings? article feature image
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  • The Giants and Dodgers — the two best teams in MLB — are mired in a contentious fight for the NL West.
  • Read about what would happen if San Francisco and Los Angeles are tied for the division lead.
  • Since the Giants hold the tiebreaker, they'd host a one-game playoff in the event of a division tie.

The last real MLB divisional race remaining is between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers — the two best teams in baseball.

Which begs the question — what happens if they’re tied for the NL West after 162 games are played?

As of Saturday, the Giants hold a two-game lead over the Dodgers.

For reference, the Dodgers are now -125 favorites to win the NL West at FanDuel while the Giants are +105.

Los Angeles had been as short as -210 to repeat as division champions as recently as MLB trade deadline day on July 31, when the Dodgers acquired Trea Turner and Max Scherzer.

San Francisco was +270 on that day despite being three games up on Los Angeles.

The Dodgers have not usurped the Giants since that date, though the two teams were tied for the division lead as recently as Sept. 5.

In fact, the Giants haven’t been outside of first place since May. Still, they were -160 favorites as recently as Wednesday.

If the two teams are tied at the end of the season, traditional MLB tiebreaker rules would come into effect.

The Giants and Dodgers would play a one-game playoff to determine which team wins the NL West and which team will have to play in the NL Wild Card game.

By virtue of having won the season series 10-9, the Giants would host a one-game playoff at Oracle Park on Oct. 4 — the day after the end of the regular season.

The winner of that game would be the No. 1 seed in the National League.

The loser of a prospective one-game playoff would host the second wild-card team on Wednesday, Oct. 6.

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Expect the Dodgers to throw Scherzer if a one-game playoff game arises, though Walker Buehler is a viable candidate, too. Scherzer has had an ungodly 0.88 ERA with nine strikeouts per outing since being traded to Los Angeles.

Buehler has a very respectable 2.58 ERA over the same timeframe but had one particularly shaky outing against the Giants in which he gave up six earned runs over three innings pitched.

Still, Buehler has a lower ERA and a higher bWAR relative to Scherzer over the course of the full season.

The Giants would probably throw Kevin Gausman on the hill for a one-game playoff. The 30-year-old has had a career year, throwing for a 2.65 ERA with a 5.1 bWAR and making his first All-Star team.

The loser of the one-game playoff is put at a further disadvantage in that they would have to put their second-best pitcher on the mound for the NL Wild Card Game. That’s less of a problem for the Dodgers — who have, like, four viable No. 1 options.

The most viable number two option for the Giants, Logan Webb, has a very solid 2.80 ERA over 125 innings for a 3.5 bWAR so far this season but is inexperienced and has never pitched in the postseason in his career.

San Francisco could also roll with an opener, as they have several times this season.

Which second wild card team the Dodgers or Giants would host is completely up in the air as of Sept. 18.

There are five teams within four games of the position. The current leaders, the St. Louis Cardinals, are a ridiculous 17 games behind the Dodgers in the wild card standings.

The San Diego Padres are a 1.5 games back while the Cincinnati Reds are the same mark behind.

The Philadelphia Phillies are 2.5 games behind St. Louis while the longshot New York Mets sit six games out from the second wild card spot.

FanGraphs gives the Cardinals the highest odds to make the wild card game, with the Reds second and the Padres third.

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