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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:52 PM

AL Wild Card Cheat Sheet

The 60-game Major League Baseball season flew by and what remains are 16 teams playing for the World Series. This year's postseason is unique from several standpoints as the most teams ever will participate for the crown, while the final three rounds will be played at neutral sites.

The opening round involves a best-of-three series with the higher seed as the host. The three division champions in each league are the top three seeds, while the next three seeds are the second-place finishers from each division.

The final two teams to qualify for the playoffs in each league are the Wild Card teams, as Houston found a way to sneak into the postseason in spite of a 29-31 record.

American League

#1 Tampa Bay Rays vs. #8 Toronto Blue Jays

  • TB: 40-28 SU, 21-9 Home, 27-30-3 O/U
  • TOR: 32-28 SU, 15-15 Road, 29-28-3 O/U

Series Price

  • Tampa Bay -230
  • Toronto +195

Series Schedule

  • Game 1 - Tuesday, Sept. 29 - 5 p.m. ET (TBS)
  • Game 2 - Wednesday, Sept. 30 - 4 p.m. ET (TBS)
  • Game 3 - Thursday, Oct. 1 (If Necessary)

The Rays are back in the postseason for the second straight year, but this time, Tampa Bay owns the top seed in the American League. This series is the only one out of the eight first round matchups that involves two division rivals.

Tampa Bay captured six of 10 regular season meetings with Toronto, including a 4-2 mark at Tropicana Field. The Rays closed the campaign by winning 12 of their final 16 games, but the Blue Jays beat the Rays in each of their three series openers this season, including twice in St. Petersburg.

The Blue Jays were one of the biggest surprises in the American League this season with their young roster, while winning six of eight games down the stretch. However, Toronto posted a 12-15 record against playoff teams, including a 5-10 road mark.

#2 Oakland Athletics vs. #7 Chicago White Sox

  • OAK: 36-24 SU, 21-9 Home, 26-32-2 O/U
  • CHW: 35-25 SU, 17-13 Away, 27-31-2 O/U

Series Price

  • Chicago -115
  • Oakland -105

Series Schedule

  • Game 1 - Tuesday, Sept. 29 - 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 2 - Wednesday, Sept. 30 - 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 3 - Thursday, Oct. 1 (If Necessary)

Both these teams stumbled down the stretch in spite of finishing with two of the best records in the American League. Oakland picked up its first AL West championship since 2013 and is making its third consecutive playoff appearance. However, the A's haven't won a postseason series since 2006, as they have been eliminated in their first round of play six straight times in this span.

Oakland lost five of its final eight games to close the season, but the A's had a comfortable lead atop the division over the Astros. The A's put together a 9-7 record against postseason squads, although seven of those victories came against Houston, who finished below .500 on the season.

The White Sox had elevated expectations this season and lived up to them. Chicago is back in the playoffs for the first time since grabbing the AL Central title in 2008 as the Sox posted a winning record for the first time since 2012. However, the Sox went 2-8 in their final 10 games to fall short of the division title, while going 14-22 against playoff teams in 2020.

#3 Minnesota Twins vs. #6 Houston Astros

  • MIN: 36-24 SU, 23-7 Home, 20-36-4 O/U
  • HOU: 29-31 SU, 9-21 Road, 29-28-3 O/U

Series Price

  • Minnesota -170
  • Houston +150

Series Schedule

  • Game 1 - Tuesday, Sept. 29 - 2 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • Game 2 - Wednesday, Sept. 30 - 1 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
  • Game 3 - Thursday, Oct. 1 (If Necessary)

The Twins are back-to-back AL Central champions since 2009 and 2010 as Minnesota seeks its first playoff series win since 2002. Luckily, the Twins avoid the Yankees in the first round, who have eliminated Minnesota in the playoffs six times dating back to 2003.

Minnesota owned the top home record in baseball this season, which includes an impressive 13-5 mark against teams headed to the postseason. The Twins didn't face the Astros this season, but won three of four home matchups at Target Field in 2019. However, none of the four starting pitchers for Houston in that series will take the mound in this series, as Game 1 starter Zack Greinke was traded to the Astros three months after these teams hooked up.

The Astros saw their streak of three consecutive AL West titles end this season, but Houston still crawled into the postseason despite its first losing record since 2014. Houston lost ace Gerrit Cole in free agency to the Yankees and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander made one start before getting shut down due to an elbow injury. The Astros have their work cut out for them as they won only nine road games, including a 2-10 away mark against playoff squads.

#4 Cleveland Indians vs. #5 New York Yankees

  • CLE: 35-25 SU, 18-12 Home, 21-35-4 O/U
  • NYY: 33-27 SU, 12-18 Road, 29-27-4 O/U

Series Price

  • New York -130
  • Cleveland +110

Series Schedule

  • Game 1 - Tuesday, Sept. 29 - 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 2 - Wednesday, Sept. 30 - 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 3 - Thursday, Oct. 1 (If Necessary)

The Yankees are back in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, although they failed to win the AL East three times in this span. New York survived a rash of injuries to several star hitters, including Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Giancarlo Stanton as the Yankees lost six of their final eight games following a nine-game winning streak in September.

The Indians rebounded from an eight-game September skid to win nine of their last 11 contests to finish ahead of the White Sox for second place in the AL Central and one game behind Minnesota for the top spot. Cleveland's starting rotation put together terrific numbers as three hurlers finished with an ERA of 3.00 or lower, led by AL Cy Young favorite Shane Bieber, who posted an 8-1 record and 1.63 ERA.

Cleveland compiled a 12-5 home record against playoff teams this season, while New York stumbled to a 3-10 road mark when facing postseason squads.

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