MLB weekend betting outlook: Final 4 wild-card spots up for grabs
The 2023 MLB campaign is drawing to a close. While many teams aren't playing for anything over the final few games of the year - they're either locked into their playoff spots or set to miss the postseason - that isn't the case for everybody.
Let's take a look at where things stand heading into the home stretch.
AL wild-card race
Not long ago, the Rangers swept the Blue Jays in a crucial series, and it looked as if there was a legitimate chance Toronto would miss the playoffs entirely. The Blue Jays have since righted the ship in a big way and all but officially earned a playoff spot. They enter the weekend with a 93.3% chance of making the dance, according to FanGraphs. That's the best mark in the American League among teams who've yet to officially qualify.
The Astros sit a game ahead of the Mariners, but their schedule isn't ideal. At a time when many teams are playing for little to nothing and ready to pack their bags, the Astros have to duel with a Diamondbacks team fighting for a playoff spot in the National League. The Diamondbacks are extremely likely to earn a spot - FanGraphs gives them a 97% chance - but it's still not certain, meaning the Astros will get their best effort, at least early in the series.
Meanwhile, the Mariners have a 33.3% chance of earning a spot after pulling off a much-needed win in the bottom of the ninth on Thursday night. They also have to deal with a team playing for something - the Rangers - but Texas is likely to claim the AL West title sooner rather than later. If that happens, there could be a game or two where the Rangers take it easy on the Mariners, so to speak.
Essentially, all the remaining drama pertains to the three AL West teams. The Rangers, Astros, and Mariners are fighting to find out who gets in - and who wins the division.
NL wild-card race
The Diamondbacks are almost certain to lock up a playoff spot, meaning there are three teams fighting tooth and nail for the final NL wild-card berth.
Miami has to feel good about its chances, with four games remaining against teams that won't qualify for the playoffs.
That being said, the Cubs and Reds should also have confidence in where they're at. The Cubs have to deal with the Brewers, but they already locked up the NL Central and can't move up or down no matter what happens. With nothing to play for, Milwaukee will presumably just want to keep guys healthy.
The Reds have the luxury of facing a Cardinals team that can't prevent runs - they're bottom-five in runs against this season - and may not crack 70 wins.
Miami may be the clear front-runner, with a 68% chance of nailing down a playoff spot. However, the Cubs and Reds are likely to make things interesting.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.