MLB Division Tiebreakers: What Happens if Braves & Phillies Tie Atop NL East Standings?
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The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are mired in a lethargic battle atop the worst division in baseball to see who will head to Milwaukee to play the Brewers in the NLDS.
The Braves are up 2.5 games with six to play.
But the two teams start a three-game series on Tuesday that will decide the clubs’ playoff fates.
If the teams are tied at the end of the season, a one-game playoff would determine the division winner.
But there’s a wrinkle as to how that tiebreaker will take place.
Earlier this month, a game between the Braves and Colorado Rockies was rained out and no rescheduling plans were made.
The game will be rendered moot if the Braves clinch the NL East.
But, there’s a distinct possibility the Braves finish either a half game ahead of or behind the Phillies when the regular season ends on Sunday.
In that event, the Braves would have to host the Rockies for, in effect, a one-game playoff on Monday, Oct. 4.
If the Braves and Phillies are still tied atop the NL East after that rescheduled game, they would meet in a one-game playoff in Philadelphia.
The Phillies would host that one-game tiebreaker by virtue of having won the season series.
(While it’s still possible for the Braves to win the season series by sweeping the Phillies this week, if that happens, there would be no need for a tiebreaker and the Braves would be NL East champions.)
That one-game playoff to determine the NL East winner would likely take place on Tuesday, Oct. 5, the same day as the AL Wild Card Game.
There is a scenario where the Giants and Dodgers also tie atop the NL West, which would create pure scheduling chaos for the week of Oct. 4.
The Giants are currently two games up on the Dodgers with six to play.
Monday, Oct. 4 could see the Braves and Rockies play in Atlanta and the Giants and Dodgers play in a one-game playoff in San Francisco for the NL West crown.
Then, Tuesday, Oct. 5 could see the Braves travel to Philadelphia, with the winner taking the NL East. Then, later in the day, the AL Wild Card Game would go down.
And on Wednesday, Oct. 6, the loser between the Giants-Dodgers would host the NL Wild Card Game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Of course, there could be chaos in the American League that would add to this nonsense.
There’s a possibility that the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays are tied for two wild-card spots.
The tiebreaker situation there would be slightly byzantine — and unprecedented. Two games between the three teams would have to be played to determine the finalists for the AL Wild Card Game.
FanGraphs gives the Braves an 87% to win the division as of Monday. The Phillies have a 13% chance to steal the NL East.
Meanwhile, FanGraphs gives the Giants an 84% chance and the Dodgers a 16% chance to win the NL West.
The website gives the Yankees about an 87% chance to make the AL Wild Card Game, the Red Sox about an 81% chance and the Blue Jays a roughly 29% chance.
At DraftKings, the Giants are -425 favorites over the Dodgers at +330 to win the NL West. San Francisco had been underdogs at the sportsbook as recently as a week ago, when it was a game up on Los Angeles.
DraftKings lists the Braves as -550 favorites to win the NL East over the Phillies at +400. The Phillies were briefly as short as +250 when they pulled within 1.5 games last Thursday.