After six topsy-turvy, drama-filled months, we’re finally here: the final day of the regular season. Saturday was instrumental in settling the playoff picture around the league, but there are still some seeding questions to be decided — even in the NL, where the Marlins and D-backs will have to decide just how much they care about postseason positioning after punching their tickets to October on Saturday night. Here’s where the AL Wild Card picture stands entering Sunday, October 1.
NL Wild Card standings: Sunday, October 1
1st Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies — 89-72, +6.5 (clinched playoff berth)
2nd Wild Card: Miami Marlins — 84-76, +0.5 (clinched playoff berth)
3rd Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks — 84-77 — (clinched playoff berth)
Well, Saturday really sucked all the drama out of what could’ve been a wild final Sunday. The streaking Marlins won their third game in a row on Saturday night, and in the process clinched one of the final two NL Wild Card spots. The D-backs clinched the other one, although theirs wasn’t quite as clean — Arizona lost its second one-run game in a row to the Astros, only to pop some bottles anyway after Cincinnati’s loss to the Cardinals ensured that the Snakes were safe.
Those results meant heartbreak for Chicago, which found itself needing help after four losses in a row. The Cubs finally snapped that skid on Saturday, but given that they were on the wrong side of the head-to-head tiebreaker against both Miami and Arizona, one more Marlins win officially sent the North Siders home for the fall.
All of which means that there’s just one thing left to be decided this afternoon: Who gets the fifth seed, and a matchup against the Phillies in the Wild Card Round, and who winds up sixth, with a matchup against the NL Central-champion Milwaukee Brewers? MLB has already announced that, no matter what the results on Sunday, they will not make Miami travel back to New York to play the final half-inning of the Marlins’ suspended game from Thursday against the Mets. That makes things pretty simple here: A Marlins win or D-backs loss on Sunday, and Miami will get the fifth seed. If Miami loses and Arizona wins, however, it will be the Snakes who wind up in the fifth spot.