Breaking Down the NL Playoff Scenarios

Charlie Manuel said he couldn’t care less about the numerous NL playoff scenarios entering tomorrow.

“Somebody’s going down,” he said. “There’s three teams in there. Somebody’s going down, man.”

This much is true, but who falls and when might not be decided until Tuesday. That is because the Phillies beat the Braves today, 7-0, and the Padres beat the Giants, 4-2. The Padres pulled into a first-place tie with the Braves in the Wild Card race. They also pulled within a game of the Giants for the NL West lead with one game to play.

It looked like a near certainty the Phillies would play the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Division Series, beginning Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, but not anymore. Here are the scenarios:

  • Phillies and Giants win Sunday. The Giants win the NL West. The Padres and Braves tie for the Wild Card and have a one-game playoff Monday at Turner Field. If the Padres win, they play the Phillies in the NLDS. If the Braves win, the Reds play the Phillies in the NLDS.
  • Phillies and Padres win. The Braves are eliminated. The Padres and Giants finish with the same record. The Padres would be NL West champions because they won the season series against the Giants. The Giants would be Wild Card champions and play the Phillies in the NLDS.
  • Braves and Giants win. The Padres are eliminated. The Giants win the NL West. The Braves win the Wild Card. The Phillies play the Reds in the NLDS.
  • Braves and Padres win. The Padres and Giants finish with the same record and play a one-game playoff Monday at Petco Park in San Diego. The winner is NL West champion. The loser flies to Atlanta for a one-game playoff Tuesday. The winner is Wild Card champion. In that scenario, if the Giants or Padres beat Atlanta on Tuesday, they would play four games in four days in four cities: Sunday in San Francisco, Monday in San Diego, Tuesday in Atlanta and Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Got it?

“If I could pick it I might care, but at the same time I can’t pick it so there’s sense in me hashing it out and worrying about it,” Manuel said.

Cole Hamels will start tomorrow, but he will only pitch two innings. Roy Oswalt is expected to pitch an inning in relief. Brad Lidge also could pitch an inning.

“We knew they were going to fill the stands, and it was important for them,” Chad Durbin said. “We know from doing anything competitive, if it’s important to the other guy, it’s important to you. We have a team full of guys like that. We’re going to compete until the last out. That goes for game 162, no matter what the scenario.”


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Chris – here’s the deal. Todd is actually correct. The reason is because if the Padres win, then they (and the Giants) would finish the season with identical records of 91-71. If teams finish the season tied, but both are assured of a playoff berth (one via the division championship, one via the wild card), then no one game playoff is needed. That is scenario #2 – with the Braves losing, they would both be assured of making the playoffs, and the tiebreaker would come down to head to head victories, which would favor San Diego.

In scenario #4, all 3 teams would finish with identical 91-71 records, with only 2 teams reaching the postseason. In this scenario, the one game playoffs ARE necessary, because no team will ever miss the playoffs based on tiebreakers. In that scenario, the above tiebreakers would simply determine who gets home field in the one game playoffs (San Diego). The first game on Monday would determine the NL West champion, and the second game (between the loser of game #1 and Atlanta) would determine the wild card.

It’s pretty simple, actually… The difference is what happens to the Braves in each scenario…

In Scenario 2- The Braves would lose. This means that they would finish 1 game back of the Padres and Giants. The Padres and Giants would be tied, with one team getting the division and the other getting the Wild Card. The MLB doesn’t play one game playoffs if both teams will make the playoffs anyway. So, the Padres would win the division because they have a better head-t0-head vs. the Giants. So, in essence… the Padres would win the division and the Giants get the WC. In this scenario the Phillies play the Giants in the NLDS.

Scenario 4- The Braves WIN. Therefore, there would be a THREE WAY TIE. Giants and Padres play a one game playoff first to determine the NL West champ. Then, the loser plays the Braves to determine the Wild Card champ.

Ok, someone beat me to it… but yeah, you get the point. Either way, the Fightin’ Phils are in great shape!!

I don’t get it. The Padres win on Sunday (in scenario #2) and they win the NL West. But in scenario #4 a Padres win on Sunday puts them in a 1 game playoff for the division. Which is it?

In Scenario 4 there will be a 3-way tie so SF/SD have to play a playoff to determine who wins the division, then the loser play to get in as the wild card. In Scenario 2, the Braves will be eliminated so, since both SF and SD will be in the playoffs, there is no need to play an extra game.

Oh, and it seems to be best scenario is for the Phillies to lose tomorrow and SD wins. Never thought I would say that but having 2 play-in games will screw up the other team’s rotation.

Thanks for posting the NL West scenarios. I hope the Giants and Phillies win Sunday.

think we should just go out there and win the last game-and complete our second straight 3 game sweep against Atlanta and hopefully send them home for the winter. WOuld serve them right. As for whom we face in the first round, I don’t think it matters much, we’re on a roll and everyone else will not have their rotation as they want it, (except for the Reds). Let’s go Phillies

It will be the Reds and Dusty Baker has set his rotation. Volquez, Arroyo and Cueto, all righthanders. I really thought they would give the lefty Woods a start.

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