Predicting The MLB Wildcard Races

wildcard race

The 2022 Major League Baseball regular season is less than a week-and-a-half from its conclusion, and while most of the division races are essentially sewn up, the last wildcard spot in both leagues is still very much in doubt, causing a wildcard race to the finish. The Yankees, Astros, Guardians, and Dodgers have officially clinched division titles.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have a 6.5-game advantage over the Brewers with a magic number of four. The only division still” up for grabs” is the NL East, where the Mets hold a 1.5-game lead over the Braves. Both the Mets and Braves have clinched playoff berths.

The Blue Jays, Rays, and Mariners are currently slated in the three AL Wildcard spots though the Orioles are still in contention while the White Sox are barely hanging on as they are 7.5 games behind the sixth-place Mariners.

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The NL is a little closer, with the Brewers being just three games behind the fifth-place Padres and 1.5 games in back of the Phillies. The Giants are alive. but barely as they are 8.5 games out of the final wildcard spot.

AL Wildcard Race

Toronto Blue Jays (86-67)

The Blue Jays (86-67) sit in the top wildcard spot after taking the final two of their four-game series with the Rays by outscoring them a combined score of 10-2 over the weekend. The Jays have a six-game cushion on the Orioles with nine games remaining.

Toronto, 29-22 since Aug. 1, has been one of the top offensive teams all season, and they are averaging 4.56 runs a game over the last month. They have a manageable schedule remaining as all nine games are against the AL East, who the Blue Jays have a 37-30 record against, and six of them are at home – where the Jays are 10 games above .500.

Toronto will send ace Kevin Gausman to open the series against the Yankees on Monday, followed by Jose Berrios on Tuesday and TBA on Wednesday. New York leads the season-series 9-7 as they have outscored the Blue Jays 68-55.

The Jays will then host the Red Sox for three games, which they have defeated 13 of the first 16 meetings this season. Toronto closes the season with three games at Baltimore. While the season series is tied at 8-8, the Jays have won six of the last eight meetings and have outscored the Orioles 86-76.

Tampa Bay Rays (84-67)

Tampa Bay has lost two straight and 11 of 17. But the Rays still have a-half game edge over the Mariners and a four-game advantage over the Orioles.

Part of their problem recently for the Rays have been their struggle at-the plate as they have produced just 24 runs while hitting .226 with a .645 OPS over the last seven games. The Rays have been shut out twice and scored just one run in the two other games over this seven-game stretch.

Scoring runs has been a problem for Tampa Bay all season long. However, the Rays have the fourth-best pitching staff in the majors, so they always have a chance.

The Rays will close the season with all nine games on the road, where they are just 33-39 though they have a +5 run differential. After a day off, Tampa Bay heads to Cleveland on Tuesday for three games, where they will send Corey Kluber to the hill to face Shane Bieber. The Guardians own a 2-1 series lead as they have outscored the Rays 13-10.

Tampa Bay then heads to Houston before closing out the season in Boston. The Rays have lost all three games to the Astros earlier this season. However, the Rays have won four straight and lead the season-series 12-4 over the Red Sox.

Seattle Mariners (83-69)

The Mariners have the eighth-best record in the majors since Aug. 1 (28-21), but they have lost 11 of their last 18 games. Seven of the 11 setbacks came on the road, which includes a 13-12 loss to the Royals on Sunday, where the M’s blew a nine-run lead.

Seattle will finish out the season at home (39-32). The Mariners start the homestretch with three games against Texas, where they hold a 12-4 lead (5-1 at home) in the series though the Rangers won the last two in Arlington.

The Mariners then host the Athletics for three games before concluding the season with four contests against the Tigers. The M’s hold a 9-7 series lead over the A’s and a 3-0 edge against the Tigers.

Baltimore Orioles (79-73)

The Orioles are just 8-12 over their last 20 games, though they split their four-game series against the Astros. The O’s have a tough schedule remaining, with seven of their previous 10 on the road, which includes their final six against teams with a winning record.

Baltimore starts the stretch with four games at Boston. The Orioles lead the season series against the Red Sox 8-7 though the teams have split the six games at Fenway. Baltimore is 35-39 on the road for the year.

The O’s then head to New York to face the Yankees for three before concluding the season against the Blue Jays. The Orioles are just 34-42 against teams with a winning record, which includes dropping 11 of their 16 games against the Yankees.

Prediction: Toronto has a bit of cushion and will use that to their advantage to secure the fourth seed. I believe Seattle will use its favorable schedule and finish fifth, while Tampa Bay will fall to sixth.

NL Wildcard Race

New York Mets (97-57) and Atlanta Braves (95-58)

Both the Mets and Braves have secured their spots in the postseason. The Mets lead the Braves by 1.5 games in the race for the NL East crown.

The teams will meet in Atlanta for three games starting on Saturday. The division leader after the series will likely go on to win the NL East. New York holds a 9-7 lead in the season series.

San Diego Padres (85-68)

The Padres have a 92.7% chance of reaching the postseason and hold a 1.5-game lead over the Phillies for the fifth spot in the NL. The Padres have been playing good baseball lately, winning 7 of their last 10, and are 18-12 over the previous month. However, they have a pretty tough closing stretch.

At least San Diego gets to play all nine remaining games at Petco Park, where they are 40-32 on the campaign. The Padres host the Dodgers for three games starting on Tuesday. Los Angeles leads the season-series 12-4 as San Diego has been outscored 100-41.

The Padres then host the White Sox and Giants each for three games. San Diego is just 7-10 in Interleague contests though they hold an 11-5 series advantage over the Giants.

Philadelphia Phillies (83-69)

The Phillies enter the homestretch in a funk, losing 7 of 10. However, six of those recent setbacks were to the Braves.

Philadelphia will be on the road for the rest of the year. But the Phillies have a pretty easy schedule remaining, at least when looking at the following six contests.

Philadelphia travels to Wigley Field on Tuesday to begin a three-game series against the Cubs. The Phillies head to Washington for a three-game set before returning home to face Houston.

Milwaukee Brewers (82-71)

Milwaukee has been inconsistent in the second half of the season as they head into the stretch run just four games above .500 (32-28). The Brewers had their four-game winning streak snapped by Cincinnati on Sunday — it was their longest winning stretch since the end of July.

Milwaukee has a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way. The Brewers do have a crucial two-game set with the Cardinals, starting Tuesday, that they must sweep to keep any hopes of a division crown alive. St. Louis leads the season series 9-8, but the teams have split the last six meetings as well as the eight contests in Milwaukee.

The Brewers finish the season with four games against the Marlins and three versus the Diamondbacks. Milwaukkee has won all eight games against Miami, outscoring them 18-9. However, the Diamondbacks took three of the four games from the Brewers in Arizona.

Prediction: I believe the Phillies and Padres will close the deal and reach the postseason.

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