With the expansion of the MLB playoffs to 12 teams this season, one major change made to the playoff spot determinations is how tiebreakers are handled. In the past, if two or more teams were tied for a playoff spot and at least one would not make the playoffs if they lost the tiebreaker, the teams would play a tiebreaker game (or games) to determine the playoff spot(s). However, with the introduction of two Wild Card series in each league, there’s no longer a gap to get in tiebreaker games before the playoffs. As a result, beginning with this season, playoff spots will be determined by tiebreaker scenarios.
Unfortunately, it’s a pretty open and shut case for how the Brewers would fare in tiebreaker scenarios in the NL Wild Card race. Here’s how the scenarios would break down:
- vs. Phillies: Phillies took the season series 4-2
- vs. Padres: Padres took the season series 4-3
- vs. Phillies & Padres: The Brewers would be on the bottom here as well with a 5-8 record against the other two teams. The Phillies would be on top with a 8-5 combined record, and the Padres would be next with a 7-7 record.
What that means is when looking at the Wild Card standings, you basically have to add an extra 1⁄2 game deficit for the Brewers. They cannot tie for a Wild Card spot and make it, they have to win one outright. The Giants remain a fringe case in the Wild Card race as well, but their presence wouldn’t help as the Brewers are 3-4 against them.
There is a positive fringe case for the Brewers, at least. If the Brewers make a run in their last several games and tie a Cardinals team that has a massive slump, they can still take that tiebreaker. The season series between the Brewers and Cardinals is currently 9-8 in favor of the Cardinals, but two games remain to play next week.
That’s the unfortunate state of the tiebreaker scenarios for the Brewers. Basically, a tie in the Wild Card race won’t help them. They need to win a spot outright to make it to the playoffs for a fifth straight year.