The shortened 60-game Major League Baseball regular season ends on Sunday, with one day built in for needed makeup games. As you’ll see in our MLB postseason preview, the fun begins on Tuesday in the American League and on Wednesday in the National League.
For the first time ever, there will be 16 teams in the MLB postseason. There will be eight teams in each league with eight best-of-three Wild Card Series, four best-of-five Division Series, two best-of-seven Championship Series, and the best-of-seven World Series.
Also new this year, the first-round series will be played entirely at the home of the team with the best record. There will be no travel and no days off in the first round unless weather issues occur.
The Division Series, Championship Series and World Series will all be played at neutral sites. There won’t be any fans in attendance until possibly the National League Championship Series and World Series, which will be played in Texas.
MLB Postseason Preview: Schedule and Sites
The Wild Card round will be the No. 1 seed vs. the No. 8 seed, 4 vs. 5, 2 vs. 7, and 3 vs. 6, in that bracket order, in both leagues. Those series will be from Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in the AL and Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in the NL.
The American League will head to California for the ALDS, with the top-of-the-bracket (seeds 1, 8, 4, and 5) playing at Petco Park in San Diego. The bottom-of-the-bracket (teams 2, 3, 6, and 7) will play at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Both of those series are scheduled from Oct. 5-9 with no off days.
In the National League, the top of the bracket will meet at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, from Oct. 6-10. The bottom of the bracket will play on the same days at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The ALCS will air on TBS from San Diego Oct. 11-17, while the NLCS will air on FOX/FS1 from Arlington Oct. 12-18.
The World Series starts on Oct. 20 in Arlington and will air on FOX. There are scheduled days off after Games 2 and 5, and a potential Game 7 would be played on Oct. 28.
MLB Postseason Preview: The World Series Favorites
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the top seed in the NL and are favored to win the World Series at +350. The Atlanta Braves (+1300) have clinched the NL East and could be the No. 2 seed. The San Diego Padres, who are locked into the No. 4 seed in the NL, are +1000.
In the American League, the New York Yankees likely won’t have home field in the first round but are still the favorites to win the pennant at +320 and +650 to win it all. The Tampa Bay Rays, the likely top seed, are +350 for the pennant and +800 for the World Series.
The Oakland A’s have clinched the AL West, and they are +1000 to win it all. Three teams from the AL Central will make the playoffs, but the seeds aren’t set for the Chicago White Sox (+1000 World Series), Minnesota Twins (+1300), and Cleveland Indians (+2500).
Last year’s AL champions, the Houston Astros, will be the No. 6 seed and are +2400 to win it all.
MLB Postseason Preview: Betting Strategy
There will be no travel in the playoffs, no fans in the first two rounds, and home field will have little impact other than who bats last. Look for the hotter team heading into the series, and more importantly, the pitching matchups.
A team won’t be able to turn around a starting pitcher for another start in the first round, so bullpens and pitching depth are huge.
None of the teams have been through a playoff journey like we are about to see, so experience may not have the impact it usually does. Having a manager who has succeeded under pressure scenarios, though, may be enough to make a difference.