MLB playoffs guide: Openers Tuesday at Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
Major League Baseball’s playoffs open Tuesday with Toronto at Minnesota, Texas at Tampa Bay, Arizona at Milwaukee and Miami at Philadelphia.
LISTEN: Bob Uecker on the call for Game 1 of Brewers-Diamondbacks. Pregame on WKTY begins at 5:25 p.m. Tuesday. Tune in on 96.7 FM / 580 AM
Defending champion Houston gets five days off until the Division Series start, as do Atlanta, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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:
HOW DOES BASEBALL’S WILD-CARD ROUND WORK?
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 got 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.
The Rangers-Rays winner faces Baltimore in the Division Series, the Twins-Blue Jays winner plays Houston, the Phillies-Marlins winner starts at Atlanta and the Brewers-Diamondbacks winner gets a matchup with the Dodgers.
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 average game time 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 at +260, followed by the Dodgers (+420) and Orioles (+700), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
HOW TO WATCH
The wild-card rounds will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and ESPN. The later rounds will be split among Fox, FS1 and TBS.
Wild Card Series: Oct. 3-5
Division Series: Oct. 7-14
League Championship Series: Oct. 15-24
World Series: Oct. 27-Nov. 4
TOP PHOTO: Milwaukee Brewers’ Joey Wiemer (28) is congratulated by Willy Adames after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Monday, June 26, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)