How does the NL Wild Card format, standings work for D-backs to make the postseason?

Sep 21, 2023, 11:33 AM | Updated: Sep 25, 2023, 1:53 pm

NL Wild Card logo...

National League Wild Card game logo in the dugout before the game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on October 4, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks sit in the second slot of the National League Wild Card standings. As of Monday, they’ve got six games left this season to hang on to a playoff berth.

The Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds remain on their heels, though the D-backs have the same record as the Cubs as of Monday afternoon. The Marlins sit one game back.

So what will it take to hold onto a playoff spot? How does the relatively revamped wild card race work?

How many teams make the playoffs in MLB Wild Card standings?

Three. In total, 12 MLB teams make the postseason, six from the American League and six from the National League.

Three of each of those buckets make the playoffs via a wild card spot after three division winners from each of the AL and NL earn an automatic berth.

This is a recent change, as the postseason field expanded in 2022 from five teams to six teams in each league, eliminating the single wild card game.

How is all that seeded?

Seeding for the six teams gives preference to the division winners over team record. The division winners earn the first three seeds, in order of record. The three wild card teams are then seeded 4-6 in order of best record.

The top two seeds receive byes and don’t play in the wild card round, but the third division winner must play the third wild card team in the wild card round, which is a three-game series.

  • No. 1 seed: Best league record
  • No. 2 seed: Second-best division winner
  • No. 3 seed: Third-best division winner
  • No. 4 seed: Best record among Wild Card teams
  • No. 5 seed: Second-best record among Wild Card teams
  • No. 6 seed: Third-best record among Wild Card teams

What happens if you’re a wild card team?

Diamondbacks fans most recently experienced the single-game wild card format that is now gone. In 2017, D-backs reliever Archie Bradley hit a triple to highlight a win against the Colorado Rockies that put Arizona in the divisional series where they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

No more is that single-elimination wild card game used from 2012-19 and again in 2021. Now, wild card teams get a best-of-three series.

When and where are wild card series played?

The higher seed of the wild card series matchups will host all three (if necessary) games.

In 2023, every wild card series will take place from Oct. 3-4 and then Oct. 5 if a third game is needed.

How long are the following series?

The divisional series will be a best-of-five series, while the league championships and World Series rounds are best-of-seven.

Reseeding will not happen after the wild card round.

What are the tiebreakers?

If two teams finish tied, their head-to-head record will determine the higher seed. The D-backs own the tiebreaker over the Cubs but not the Marlins or Reds.

The Marlins and Reds are 3-3 against each other, though. The next tie-breaker is divisional record, regardless if the two clubs play in the same division or not.

If three clubs tie for one spot, the team with the better record against the other two clinches the spot. For example, if the D-backs, Cubs and Reds all finish with the same record, the Reds would benefit since they own the season series against both opponents.


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