If the season ended today, your Colorado Rockies would be firmly in the postseason (save me the semantics; MLB recognizes the Wild Card as such!) and would be set to face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Wild Card Game in Phoenix.
Unfortunately, the season doesn’t end today, so the struggling Rockies have to play out the string in order to find out their postseason fate. With nine games remaining and the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in striking distance, the race is far from over, and we could wind up seeing some wild scenarios take place in the standings.
We’re here to sort it all out for you. Here’s a list of things that could happen and how they’ll play out:
Rockies, Brewers, Cardinals, or Cubs win NL WC2
The winner faces the Diamondbacks in Phoenix in the Wild Card Game on Oct. 4. Simple, right? Let’s move past that (but not before I note that if the Cardinals end up surpassing the Brewers and especially the Rockies, I’m quitting baseball forever) ...
Rockies and Brewers finish tied for NL WC2
Because the Rockies won the head-to-head season series over the Brewers, 4-3, Colorado would host a tiebreaker at Coors Field on Oct. 2, with the winner moving on to Arizona.
Rockies and Cardinals finish tied for NL WC2
Because the Cardinals won the head-to-head season series over the Rockies, 4-2, St. Louis would host a tiebreaker at Busch Stadium on Oct. 2, with the winner moving on to Arizona.
Rockies, Brewers, and Cardinals finish tied for NL WC2
These next few still have some things that need to play out because the Brewers and Cardinals have one more series against each other remaining. But as of right now, here’s how this works:
Club B at Club A on Oct. 2
Club C at Winner of A-B on Oct. 3 for the right to move on to Arizona
How are A, B, and C determined? Winning percentages against the other two teams involved in the tiebreaker. So, if the season ended today with these three teams tied, here are those winning percentages:
The Brewers would have first choice for the designation, followed by the Cards and Rox. Milwaukee could choose to be Club A in order to get a guaranteed home game, or it could pick Club C so that it only has to play one tiebreaking contest. For the purpose of clarity, let’s say the Brewers choose to host the guaranteed home game and the Cardinals opt to play only one game, leaving the Rockies to travel to Milwaukee on Oct. 2, giving them an opportunity to win and host St. Louis on Oct. 3.
Again, with the Cards and Brewers set to end the regular season with a three-game set, this picture could change dramatically. If the Brewers win two of three, the scenario stays the same as it is now. But, if Milwaukee sweeps the series, Colorado would jump ahead of St. Louis in the above designation. If the Cardinals win two of three, they would leapfrog the Brewers for the top spot. And if the Redbirds earn a sweep, they would rise to the top while the Rox and Brew Crew would end up tied for the second spot, meaning the Rockies would win out in that scenario due to their season series victory over the Brewers.
Rockies finish tied with top two NL Central teams (any two of Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals)
This one is a bit of a long shot at this point because the Cubs have 4 1⁄2 and 5-game leads over the Brewers and Cardinals, respectively, but it’s still possible especially when considering those three teams all still have to play one another head-to-head. There is still so much left to play out, but here’s how it looks right now:
The two NL Central teams, on Oct. 2 at the home ballpark of the team with the best head-to-head record, would play a tiebreaker to determine the division champion, which would advance to the NLDS. The losing team would then travel to Denver on Oct. 3 to face the Rockies in a Wild Card tiebreaker for the right to face the D-backs in Phoenix the following day.
Rockies, Brewers, Cardinals, and Cubs all finish with the same record
This is another scenario where teams will be given A, B, C, and, in this case, D designations. Because the other three teams are all tied for the lead in their division, Colorado automatically gets relegated to Club D, meaning it would play a road game on Oct. 2 against Club C—the team with the worst head-to-head, three-team winning percentage among the NL Central clubs. Right now—though it can easily change—that’s the Cardinals, which would leave the Cubs (currently Club A) and Brewers (Club B) to face off in the “other” game, also on Oct. 2.
If the Rockies ended up winning that contest, they’d be declared the Wild Card 2 winner and head to Arizona while the Cardinals would be sent packing. The Cubs-Brewers winner would be awarded the NL Central title while the other team would join the Cards on the outside looking in.
Rockies and Cubs finish tied for NL WC2
A similar longshot to the one above, but a much simpler solution: Because the Rockies won the head-to-head season series over the Cubs, 5-2, Colorado would host a tiebreaker at Coors Field on Oct. 2, with the winner moving on to Arizona.
Fun, isn’t it? We’ll check in this time next week to see how the picture looks and whether any of the above scenarios have changed. In the meantime, you should now have enough information to plug and play, so to speak, and follow along as the games unfold.