Brian Markley
Associate Sports Editor

For teams in the hunt for a playoff spot, September becomes crunch time. Not only does every single game from here until the end of the month matter, but every pitch and every at bat matter. 

The American League race is practically set already. The New York Yankees have the American League Central on lock with an eight and a half game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Houston Astros also hold an eight and a half game lead over their American League West rivals, the Oakland Athletics. The Minnesota Twins have been a surprise this season, and currently hold a five-game lead over the Cleveland Indians.  

On the National League side, the divisions are all sorted except for one: the National League Central. The St. Louis Cardinals currently hold on to a two-game lead over their hated rivals, the Chicago Cubs. The Milwaukee Brewers only trail the Cardinals by three games.

Oh, and the Cubs and Cardinals still play each other seven more times this season, with a four-game series coming up this week at Wrigley Field. The final three games of both teams’ seasons will be played in St. Louis, a potential division deciding series.   

The wild card spots are where this season’s playoff races get spicy.

In the American League, it’s a three-team race for the two wild card spots. The Oakland Athletics currently hold a one-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the top spot in the American League wild card, while the Cleveland Indians trail the Rays by a game and a half. 

In the National League, there’s four potential teams that could all be fighting over two wild card spots. The Washington Nationals currently hold the number one wildcard spot, with only a half-game lead over the Cubs. The Brewers currently sit only a game behind the Cubs, and the Cardinals could fall into the fold if they concede the division to one of their two rivals. 

The wild card races are tight, and there is still a division to be decided. It’s going to be a wild ride to the end of September.