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Royals playoff scenarios, tiebreakers, and schedules

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Get your playoff hijinks explained.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With the Royals on the verge of reaching the post-season, we need to go over the possible tie-breaker scenarios and schedules they may encounter next week. The one thing we know right now - the Royals WILL be playing next week. They have already clinched at least a tie for the Wild Card, and can clinch it outright with one more win or one more Mariners loss.

But where and who will they play?

Here is how the Central Division looks right now:

American League Central Division W L PCT GB
Detroit Tigers 89 70 .560 --
Kansas City Royals 87 72 .547 2

If the Royals are able to catch the Tigers and tie them at the end of the regular season, the two teams will play a one-game playoff to determine the Central Division champion. The site will be determined by head-to-head record, meaning the Tigers will host the Royals on Monday. The winner will be Central Division champion and will play in Baltimore in the League Divisional Series on Thursday. The loser will play in the Wild Card game, with the site to be determined by Wild Card tie-breaker methods (the Royals-Tigers game will NOT count in the standings for those purposes), which we'll get to in a second.

What about a tie for the Wild Card? Here are the current standings:

American League Central Division W L PCT GB
Kansas City Royals 87 72 .547 --
Oakland Athletics 86 73 .541 --
Seattle Mariners 84 75 .528 2
Cleveland Indians 83 76 .522 3

If two teams tie for the top Wild Card spot, the site of the game is determined by head-to-head record. The Royals would host the Athletics, but would have to travel to Seattle (Cleveland cannot tie the Royals at this point).

If two teams tie for the final Wild Card spot, they will play a one-game playoff on Monday at the site of the team with the better head-to-head record. The only way the Royals will be involved with that is if they lose out and the Mariners win out, then the Royals would have to travel to Seattle on Monday to play a one-game playoff for the right to be the final Wild Card.

If Kansas City, Oakland, and Seattle all tie at 87-75, then Seattle would get to choose whether it wanted to be "Club A", "Club B" or "Club C" by virtue of them having a better head-to-head record against both Kansas City and Oakland. Kansas City would get to choose next by virtue of having a better head-to-head record against Oakland.

After Clubs have been assigned their A, B and C designations, Club A would host Club B. The winner of the game would be declared one Wild Card winner. Club C would then host the loser of the game between Club A and Club B to determine the second Wild Card Club.

So Seattle would have to choose - is it worth burning two pitchers to gain the homefield advantage in the Wild Card or do you take your chances on the road and only burn one pitcher before the Wild Card game? Most teams would almost certainly choose being Club A.

Got all that?

All MLB tie-breaker scenarios are available here.

Here is the American League Playoff Schedule. All games will be on TBS. Game times are yet to be determined. The Los Angeles Angels are the top seed and will face the winner of the Wild Card game. Baltimore will face the winner of the American League Central Division - either Detroit or Kansas City.

Wild Card Schedule
Series Date
A.L. Wild Card Game Tuesday, September 30
American League Division Series (2-2-1 format)
Series Date
Game 1: TBD vs. LAA Thursday, October 2
Game 2: TBD vs. LAA Friday, October 3
Game 3: LAA vs. TBD Sunday, October 5
Game 4: LAA vs. TBD* Monday, October 6
Game 5: TBD vs. LAA* Wednesday, October 8
American League Division Series (2-2-1 format)
Series Date
Game 1: TBD vs. BAL Thursday, October 2
Game 2: TBD vs. BAL Friday, October 3
Game 3: BAL vs. TBD Sunday, October 5
Game 4: BAL vs. TBD* Monday, October 6
Game 5: TBD vs. BAL* Wednesday, October 8