Major League Baseball has completed an unprecedented curtailed regular season amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and is now entering a postseason that will look like no other.
MLB expanded the postseason from 10 to 16 teams in 2020, giving more than half of the teams the chance for a World Series crown. Some aspects of the 2020 postseason will seem familiar, but there are big changes this year.
Here’s what you need to know when heading into the postseason.
When do the playoffs start?
The wildcard series begins on Tuesday. The full postseason schedule and TV details can be found below.
How many teams made it to the playoffs?
Sixteen teams – eight from the American League and eight from the National League. Each of the three division winners and runners-up in the league has earned a place. Then the last two wildcard berths in each league were determined by the teams with the next best records.
In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays (AL East), Minnesota Twins (AL Central) and Oakland A’s (AL West) were the division winners.
In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West), Atlanta Braves (NL East) and Chicago Cubs (NL Central) were division winners.
Here’s a look at post-season sowing:
1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Oakland A’s
3. Minnesota Twins
4. Cleveland Indians
5. New York Yankees
6. Houston Astros
7. Chicago White Sox
8. Toronto Blue Jays
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Chicago Cubs
4. San Diego Padres
5. St. Louis Cardinals
6. Miami Marlins
7. Cincinnati Reds
8. Milwaukee Brewers
Ranking list | Scoreboard | statistics
Where are games played?
The division series, championship series, and world championships are played at neutral locations in Southern California and Texas. The World Series begins October 20th at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Tex.
The matchups of the first round, a new best-of-three series called the Wild-Card Series, will be played in the stadium of the higher seeded team.
How does the bracket work?
The new postseason format includes four rounds, starting with the wildcard series.
Wildcard series (best-of-three in each league):
- No. 1 versus No. 8
- No. 2 versus No. 7
- No. 3 versus No. 6
- No. 4 versus No. 5
All games are played at the home stadium of the higher seed.
Divisional series (Best-of-Five): In each league, the winner of 1 against 8 plays the winner of 4 against 5, while the winner of 2 against 7 plays the winner of 3 against 6.
The American League Division Series teams play at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego, while the National League Division Series teams play at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas and Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will host division series games as well as the National League Championship Series and the World Series. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)
Games during the American League Division Series and AL Championship Series rounds are played at Petco Park, San Diego. (Orlando Ramirez / AP)
LEFT: Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will host division series games as well as the National League Championship Series and the World Series. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) CORRECT: In Petco Park, San Diego, games are played during the round of the American League Division Series and the AL Championship Series. (Orlando Ramirez / AP)
League Championship Series (Best of Seven): The ALDS winners will meet for the American League Championship Series at Petco Park, while the NLDS winners will play in the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field.
Like the divisional series, which will take place on five consecutive days, the championship series in both leagues will not include travel days and will be played on seven consecutive days.
World Series (Best-of-Seven): The American League Champion and the National League Champion meet at Globe Life Field. Game 1 is scheduled for October 20th. The higher-seeded team – not necessarily the team with the best record – will reportedly have the last bats in Games 1 and 2 and, if necessary, Games 6 and 7.
Will there be fans?
Commissioner Rob Manfred told USA Today on Tuesday that the sport was pushing plans for fans at the NLCS and World Series, although the move has reportedly yet to be finalized by government officials and MLB has not yet officially announced such plans.
Texas is currently in phase 3 of its reopening, where open-air venues can accommodate up to 50 percent.
What else will be different?
Some new rules introduced in 2020 remain in the postseason – including the universal hitter and the three-stroke minimum for pitchers. However, the regular season rule of placing a runner on second base to start each additional inning does not apply in the postseason.
The schedule for the postseason is structured differently this year too, as there are no non-working days in the middle of the series in the two rounds before the World Series. That could have a strategic impact on pitching.
Will the expanded format become the new normal?
While the 16-team format only covers the season shortened by the pandemic, Manfred remains a proponent of adding more teams to the postseason beyond this year. He said earlier this month “an overwhelming majority” of owners were in favor of an expanded postseason format even before the pandemic.
Explaining these comments in an interview with Dave Sheinin of The Post, he said the 16-team format happened because “we were going to have a short season and we thought the nicest thing would be to give maximum access to the postseason.” Before the pandemic, MLB had discussed an idea with 14 teams for the postseason.
“In every advanced playoff conversation that went ahead of Covid there was never a 16-team conversation and all of those conversations were aimed at preserving the value of the division’s win and maintaining competitiveness throughout the long regular season” so Manfred said.
“Yes I think so [postseason expansion] is a good idea. Do I ever think there will be 16 teams? No, I do not. We’ve always had a very selective postseason, and I think one of the factors that play a role in judging the number of teams we’re expanding to is our desire to maintain that selectivity. “
Any expansion would ultimately have to be settled through collective bargaining with the players’ union. The sports collective agreement expires after the 2021 season.
Best-of-three; all times east
Tuesday, September 29th
Astros with Gemini, Game 1, 2 p.m., ABC
White Sox at A, Game 1, 3 p.m., ESPN
Blue Jays at Rays, Game 1, 5pm, TBS
Yankees at Indians, Game 1, 7 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday September 30th
Reds at Braves, Game 1, noon, ESPN
Astros with Gemini, Game 2, 1 p.m., ESPN2
Marlins at Cubs, Game 1, 2 p.m., ABC
White Sox at A, Game 2, 3 p.m., ESPN
Blue Jays at Rays, Game 2, 4pm, TBS
Cardinals at Padres, Game 1, 5 p.m., ESPN2
Yankees at Indians, Game 2, 7 p.m., ESPN
Brewers at Dodgers, Game 1, 10 p.m., ESPN
Thursday October 1st
Brewers at Dodgers, Game 2, TBD
Reds at Braves, Game 2, TBD
Yankees for Indians, Game 3 – if necessary, TBD
Astros in Gemini, Game 3 – if necessary, TBD
White Sox at A, Game 3 – if necessary, TBD
Blue Jays at Rays, Game 3 – if necessary, TBD, TBS
Cardinals at Padres, Game 2, TBD
Marlins at Cubs, Game 2, TBD
Friday October 2nd
Reds at Braves, Game 3 – if necessary, TBD
Marlins at Cubs, Game 3 – if required, TBD
Brewers at Dodgers, Game 3 – if necessary, TBD
Cardinals at Padres, Game 3 – if required, TBD
Best-of-five; ALDS in San Diego and Los Angeles; NLDS in Arlington, Texas and Houston; TV: TBS, Fox Sports 1, and MLB Network.
Indians-Yankees Winner at Rays-Blue Jays Winner, Game 1
Winner of Twins-Astros at Winner of A’s-White Sox, Game 1
Winner of Cubs-Marlins at Winner of Braves-Reds, Game 1
Padres-Cardinals Winner at Dodgers-Brewers Winner, Game 1
Indians-Yankees Winner at Rays-Blue Jays Winner, Game 2
Winner of Twins-Astros at Winner of A’s-White Sox, Game 2
Winner of Cubs-Marlins at Winner of Braves-Reds, Game 2
Winner of Rays-Blue Jays at Winner of Indians-Yankees, Game 3
A’s-White Sox Winner at Twins-Astros Winner, Game 3
Padres-Cardinals Winner at Dodgers-Brewers Winner, Game 2
Dodgers-Brewers Winner at Padres-Cardinals Winner, Game 3
Braves-Reds Winner at Cubs-Marlins Winner, Game 3
A’s-White Sox Winner at Twins-Astros Winner Game 4 – if required
Rays-Blue Jays Winner at Indians-Yankees Winner Game 4 – if required
Braves-Reds Winner at Cubs-Marlins Winner, Game 4 – if required
Dodgers-Brewers Winner at Padres-Cardinals Winner Game 4 – if required
Twins-Astros Winner at A’s-White Sox Winner Game 5 – if required
Indians-Yankees Winner at Rays-Blue Jays Winner Game 5 – if applicable
Padres-Cardinals Winner at Dodgers-Brewers Winner Game 5 – if required
Winner of Cubs-Marlins at Winner of Braves-Reds, Game 5 – if required
League championship series
Best-of-seven; ALCS in San Diego, NLCS in Arlington, Tex.
ALCS game 1, TBS
ALCS game 2, TBS
NLCS game 1, Fox or FS1
ALCS game 3, TBS
NLCS Game 2, Fox or FS1
ALCS game 4, TBS
NLCS Game 3, Fox or FS1
ALCS Game 5, TBS – if required
NLCS, Game 4, Fox or FS1
ALCS Game 6, TBS – if required
NLCS, Game 5, Fox or FS1 – if required
ALCS Game 7, TBS – if required
NLCS Game 6, Fox or FS1 – if required
NLCS Game 7, Fox or FS1 – if required
Best-of-seven; Arlington, Tex.
the 20th of October
Game 1, Fox
Game 2, Fox
Game 3, Fox
Game 4, Fox
Game 5, Fox – if necessary
Game 6, Fox – if required
28th of October
Game 7, Fox – if necessary