MLB's shortened 2020 season has been unlike any other in history, and even the postseason format will look strikingly different this year.
To adjust to the coronavirus pandemic, the league cut down the regular season to only 60 games built around regional-based schedules. With the changes came an expanded 16-team playoff format instead of the usual 10-team structure with series being held in neutral sites past the first round. Eight teams from the American League and eight teams from the National League will reach the postseason.
How Will Postseason Teams be Seeded?
The top three seeds (Nos. 1-3) in each league will be given to the three division winners (East, Central, West) based on their records.
The next three seeds (Nos. 4-6) will go to each division's second-place teams, while the final two seeds (Nos. 7-8) will be assigned to the two teams with the next best records. Those final two qualifiers will be considered the "wild card" teams and chosen regardless of their division and division standing.
How Many Rounds Are in the New Format?
There will still be four postseason rounds, but the division winners will not sit out while the wild card teams play in a sudden-death game.
- Wild Card Series (best-of-three): All games will be played at the higher seeding's ballpark following this structure: No. 1 seed vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6, and No. 4 vs. No. 5.
- Division Series (best-of-five): Winner of 1-8 vs. winner of 4-5, Winner of 2-7 vs. winner of 3-6. The ALDS will take place at Petco Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium at Los Angeles. The NLDS will be held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Tex., and Minute Maid Park in Houston.
- League Championship Series (best-of-seven): Winner of 1-4-5-8 vs. winner of 2-3-6-7. The ALCS will take place at Petco Park and the NLCS at Globe Life Field.
- World Series (best-of-seven): AL champion vs. NL champion at Globe Life Field.
Will This Expanded Format Continue in Future Postseasons?
MLB implemented the expanded playoff format only for 2020. Some of the rule changes added in the 2020 regular season will be used in the playoffs, such as the universal designated hitter and three-batter minimum. However, extra innings in the playoffs will not begin with a runner on second base.
When Does the Postseason Start?
The wild card series, or the first round, will begin on Sept. 29 and run through Oct. 2. You can check out the playoff seedings and matchups for the wild card series here.
*Clinched postseason berth
^Clinched division title
- Rays^ (AL East winner): 40–20
- Athletics^ (AL West winner): 36–24
- Twins^ (AL Central winner): 36–24
- Indians* (AL Central runner-up): 35–25
- Yankees* (AL East runner-up): 33-27
- Astros* (AL West runner-up): 29–31
- White Sox* (WC 1): 35–25
- Blue Jays* (WC 2): 32–28
The Rays have clinched home field advantage through the ALCS.
The A's hold the tiebreaker over the Twins by virtue of intradivision record.
The Indians hold the tiebreaker over the White Sox by virtue of head-to-head record.
- Dodgers^ (NL West winner): 43–17
- Braves^ (NL East winner): 35–25
- Cubs^ (NL Central winner): 34–26
- Padres* (NL West runner-up): 37–23
- Cardinals* (NL Central runner-up): 30–28
- Marlins* (NL East runner-up): 31–29
- Reds* (WC 1): 31-29
- Brewers* (WC 2): 29–31
The Dodgers have clinched home field advantage through the World Series.