UNC Baseball: MLB Tar Heels Update (9/23/20)


Major League Baseball is in the final week of the strangest regular season in memory and the postseason begins in earnest next Tuesday.

As a reminder, 16 teams will make the postseason this year as opposed to the regular 10. Seeding will work as follows:

  • The three division winners from each league will receive seeds one through three, ranked by order of record
  • The three second-place division finishers from each league will receive seeds four through six, ranked by order of record
  • The next two top teams will receive a wild card birth and seeds seven and eight, ranked by order of record.

The playoffs will take place in four rounds:

  • Wild Card Round – best two-out-of-three, all hosted by the better seed
  • Divisional Round – best three-out-of-five, neutral sites (NL: Arlington, Houston | AL: San Diego, Los Angeles)
  • League Championship Round – best four-out-of-seven, neutral sites (NL: Arlington | AL: San Diego)
  • World Series – best four-out-of-seven, Arlington

Following Tuesday’s action, teams have claimed 10 of the 16 playoff spots:

American League (6 of 8 spots claimed)

  • Oakland Athletics – clinched AL West and top 3 seed
  • Tampa Bay Rays – clinched top 5 seed
  • New York Yankees – clinched playoff birth
  • Chicago White Sox – clinched playoff birth
  • Minnesota Twins – clinched playoff birth
  • Cleveland Indians – clinched playoff birth

National League (4 of 8 spots claimed)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers – clinched NL West and top seed
  • Atlanta Braves – clinched NL East and top 3 seed
  • San Diego Padres – clinched top 4 seed
  • Chicago Cubs – clinched playoff birth

On the flip side, six teams have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention:

American League

  • Baltimore Orioles 
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Texas Rangers

National League

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Pittsburgh Pirates

If the season were to end today, the following teams would make the playoffs:

American League

  • East – Tampa Bay Rays | New York Yankees
  • Central – Chicago White Sox | Minnesota Twins
  • West – Oakland Athletics | Houston Astros
  • Wild Cards – Cleveland Indians | Toronto Blue Jays

National League

  • East – Atlanta Braves | Miami Marlins
  • Central – Chicago Cubs | St. Louis Cardinals
  • West – Los Angeles Dodgers | San Diego Padres
  • Wild Cards – Cincinnati Reds | Milwaukee Brewers

Additionally, were the season to end today, the seeds would match-up as following for the best two-out-of-three Wild Card Round:

American League (beginning Tuesday, September 29)

  • (1) Tampa Bay Rays vs (8) Toronto Blue Jays
  • (2) Chicago White Sox vs (7) Cleveland Indians
  • (3) Oakland Athletics vs (6) Houston Astros
  • (4) Minnesota Twins vs (5) New York Yankees

National League (beginning Wednesday, September 30)

  • (1) Los Angeles Dodgers vs (8) Milwaukee Brewers
  • (2) Atlanta Braves vs (7) Cincinnati Reds
  • (3) Chicago Cubs vs (6) Miami Marlins
  • (4) San Diego Padres vs (5) St. Louis Cardinals

Tar Heel Update

As things stand today, three Tar Heels will make the playoffs.

Brian Goodwin was traded to Cincinnati back on August 31. The Reds are holding steady in the first wild card position (seventh seed).

Andrew Miller and the Cardinals currently hold the fifth seed in the National League as the second team out of the Central Division.

The other player is Trent Thornton and his Blue Jays teammates, who are currently locked into the second Wild Card in the American League. If the Blue Jays do hang on to a playoff spot, Thornton won’t be able to pitch as he has been on the IL for the majority of the season.

The only other player with a real shot at making the playoffs is Kyle Seager.

Seager’s Mariners are a half-game behind the Angels and have a chance to win either the second seed in the West Division or the second Wild Card

Winning the Wild Card would be at the expense of the Blue Jays and would therefore knock Thornton out of the playoffs.

Four Tar Heels have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs:

Despite Zac Gallen’s incredible season on the pitcher’s mound, the Diamondbacks struggled as a team and have a 20-34 record.

The only team worse than the Diamondbacks in the National League is the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are the only team in baseball with a winning percentage below .300. Unfortunately, this means that both Colin Moran and Jacob Stallings will not be in the playoffs.

In the American League, Matt Harvey's Kansas City Royals team has also been eliminated. Harvey will end the season on the Injured List.

In addition to Goodwin and Seager, one other Tar Heel has not been eliminated from playoff contention, but is currently on the outside looking in at postseason action.

Daniel Bard and the Rockies were once right in the thick of the playoff hunt but are now fading. It would put a punctuation mark on an already special year to see Bard make the playoffs, but it likely won’t come to fruition.

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