Team Entropy: With one week left, AL still has chance at chaotic finish
Team Entropy's chances for a chaotic ending to the regular season took a significant hit over the weekend, particularly in the National League, where the playoff picture is just about set. Still, with the regular season now down to its final week, a few chances exist for some massive mayhem, which is the goal of supporters of Team Entropy, those who want as much meaningful baseball as possible via the disorder caused by tiebreaker scenarios and play-in games.
In the NL, you can blame the Pirates and Padres for spoiling the fun. The Bucs took two out of three from the fizzed-out Brewers in a tense series in which all three games were decided in the late innings. On Friday, Pittsburgh won 4-2 via a three-run eighth-inning home run by Russell Martin off former teammate Jonathan Broxton. On Saturday, Milwaukee won 1-0 despite starter Matt Garza's fifth-inning ejection for hitting Andrew McCutchen with a pitch for the second time in the game; the lone run scored on a ninth-inning sacrifice fly. On Sunday, the Pirates turned the tables with a 1-0 victory in which Martin drove in McCutchen in the seventh inning for the game's only tally.
The Brewers (80-76) have now dropped 21 of 30 dating back to Aug. 19. They've been eliminated from the NL Central race and can finish with, at best, 86 wins. To remain alive with that total would require the Pirates or Giants (both 84-71) to go 2-5 the rest of the way; there’s just a 1.9 percent chance of that happening, according to the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is just 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals (87-69) in the NL Central; its remaining slate is all on the road against the collapsing Braves (76-79) and Reds (72-84), while St. Louis faces the Cubs (69-87) and Diamondbacks (62-94), both on the road. The BP odds give the Pirates just a 4.5 percent chance at winning the division, but they're at 94.7 percent to secure a wild-card spot.
As for San Francisco, it was swept by the Padres in San Diego — scoring just four runs in the process — to fall 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers (89-67) in the NL West. Los Angeles' magic number to clinch the division is now three, and it can wrap things up during the three-game series at Chavez Ravine that starts tonight. The Giants — who again draw the Padres at AT&T Park for the season's final three games after leaving L.A. — have a mere 1.3 percent chance at the division title, but its wild-card odds are a robust 97.6 percent.
Over in the AL, the Tigers (86-69) took two out of three in Kansas City, as Royals manager Ned Yost's team small-balled and otherwise misplayed its way out of several opportunities, particularly on Saturday. Detroit now leads the division by 1 1/2 games, and the Royals (84-70) face their reckoning with the resumption of their suspended Aug. 31 game against the Indians (81-74) — K.C. trails 4-2 in the bottom of the 10th — before starting a scheduled three-game set at Progressive Field. Detroit's odds are up to 93.2 percent to win the division, with 6.4 percent for the wild card, while the Royals' are down to 6.6 percent and 62.5 percent, respectively. Cleveland, which took two out of three from the Twins over the weekend, remains alive, albeit with just a 0.2 percent chance at the division and 15.3 percent chance at a wild-card berth.
Out West, the Athletics (85-70) put a tourniquet on their bleeding by beating the Phillies two out of three, winning Sunday's game on Josh Donaldson's walkoff homer. That gave Oakland just its second series win since Aug. 27, during which time it has gone 7-16 overall. The A's open the week by hosting the Angels for a three-game series, having lost their last five to the AL West champs, before heading to Texas. Oakland's odds are now at 94.9 percent, all for the wild card. As for the Mariners (83-72), they made their road much tougher by losing two of three to the Astros in Houston. Seattle travels to Toronto (78-77) for a four-game set before hosting the Angels for the final three games; its wild-card odds are now down to 20.7 percent.
The AL still has a chance at a five-way 88-win pileup. With the Indians having held on to their lead over the Royals in the suspended game, that would require the Tigers to go 2-5, the Royals 4-3, the Indians 6-0, the A's 3-4, and the Mariners 5-2, all of which is possible but not particularly likely. If the Yankees — who took three of four from Toronto in the Bronx to run their record to 80-75 — run the table against the Orioles and Red Sox, they could finish with 87 wins and potentially create a six-way pileup (subtract one win and add one loss to the previous string of records). But don't bet on New York being around much longer — its postseason odds are down to 0.2 percent.
Even without the Yankees — and, likely, the Indians — there's still a chance for a multi-team mashup in the 87-90 win range that would take the American League's regular season to a 163rd game. Team Entropy isn't licked yet.