MLB playoffs guide: All 12 berths clinched, just matchups left to be decided for postseason's start

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Major League Baseball's 12 playoff teams have been decided, with just the first-round matchups left to be determined.

Arizona, Houston, Miami, Texas and Toronto all clinched playoff berths on the next-to-last day of the season.

Best-of-three Wild Card Series start Tuesday at Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, while Atlanta, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers enjoy first-round byes along with the AL West champion, either the Astros or Rangers.

There will be a lot of familiar faces in October, particularly in the National League. The speedy and strong Ronald Acuña Jr. — the one and only member of the 40-70 club — will lead the Braves as they try to win their second title in three years. Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and the Dodgers also look like a tough out.

Over in the American League, the upstart Orioles will try to build on their 100-win season with a deep run in the playoffs. The franchise lost 110 games just two seasons ago.

Houston will be trying to become the first repeat champion since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees won three in a row.

Here's a look at what's coming as October approaches:


The best-of-three wild card format is in its second season. The format was changed in 2022 from the sudden death one-game format that was in place since 2012 with the exception of the COVID-19 pandemic-affected 2020 season.

Six teams each from the American League and National League qualified for the postseason, including the three division winners in each league. The three wild card teams in each league are the teams with the best records that didn’t win their division.

The top two division winners with the best records in each league get a bye and don’t have to play in the wild card round. One big advantage for the higher seed in those wild card series is they get to host all three games.


If there’s a tie for one of the playoff spots after the 162-game regular season, mathematical tiebreakers are used instead of an extra game. That left open the possibility Miami would have to return to New York on Monday to complete last week's suspended game against the Mets: the Marlins had just taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth when rain caused play to be stopped.

If head-to-head doesn't break the stalemate, the team with the best intradivision record would win the tiebreaker. If that doesn’t work, the process continues with more and more convoluted solutions until a resolution is reached.


Many of baseball's recent rule changes will still be in effect during the postseason, including the pitch clock, a ban on extreme infield shifts and a limit to how many times a pitcher can disengage from the rubber. The pitch clock was a huge change for the sport and widely celebrated, cutting game times by more than 20 minutes this season.

There is one rule that won't make the postseason cut: the so-called “ghost runner” in extra innings.

During the MLB regular season, if a game goes to extra innings, a runner is placed at second base to start the 10th inning when each team bats. That won't happen in the postseason. Extra innings will be played just like the previous nine.


The Braves are the current betting favorites to win the World Series, followed by the Dodgers and Orioles.


The wild-card rounds will be broadcast on ESPN. The later rounds will be split among FS1, TBS and Fox.


Wild Card Series: Oct. 3-5

Division Series: Oct. 7-14

League Championship Series: Oct. 15-24

World Series: Oct. 27-Nov. 4

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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