Hey, I know technically most of you checked out a few weeks ago and Sam Mellinger at the Star has already written off the Royals chances. Fangraphs has the Royals’ playoff odds so long that they read at 0.0% but technically, the Royals are still alive for a post-season berth with five games to go. Here’s how.
First of all, the Royals have to win all their games. Every single one. They have two games left against the Twins before the Indians come to town. Now it may seem daunting to have the Central Division champs come into town, but remember, they have things wrapped up. They will be trying to rest up before the post-season. Already have they have adjusted their rotation to prepare for October baseball, and they are without starters Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and possibly Corey Kluber due to injuries.
Winning out would put the Royals at 85-77, not enough to catch the Toronto Blue Jays for the first Wild Card spot, as they have already won 87 games, but it could be enough to catch the Baltimore Orioles if they lose all their remaining games. They dropped their game in Toronto last night, giving the Royals a reprieve from elimination. The Orioles have two remaining games against the Jays before traveling from Toronto to the Bronx to play the Yankees this weekend. If they end their season with a six-game losing streak, that opens the door a crack for a potential Royals post-season berth.
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky though. Since the Orioles end the year against the Yankees, and the Orioles have to lose all their remaining games, the Royals have to make sure the Yankees don’t overtake them for a Wild Card spot. The Yankees are currently 81-76, so winning three this weekend against Baltimore would put them at 84 wins. That means they have to lose at least one of the remaining two games against the Red Sox so they cannot reach 86 wins, which would bump the Royals from a playoff spot.
But there’s more! The Tigers are sitting on 84 wins, with two more games against the Indians and three this weekend against....the 92-loss Atlanta Braves. The Tigers cannot win more than one game the rest of this week, so go Braves!
What happens if the Orioles, Yankees, Royals, and Tigers all miraculously finish the season with 85 wins?
According to official tie-breaker procedures, the four remaining teams would stack their record up against each other. Right now, the Royals are 16-16 against the other three clubs, the Orioles are 17-12, and the Yankees are 16-13, and the Tigers are 12-20. But if the Yankees sweep the Orioles this weekend, they will be 19-13, the Orioles 17-15, the Royals 16-16, and the Tigers 12-20. So the Yankees would get the first pick as to which designation they would like - Team A, Team B, Team C, or Team D. Team A would host Team B, and Team C would host Team D. The winner of the two games would then play, hosted by the winner of Team A vs. Team B. The winner of that, would be the Wild Card.
But don’t forget the Western Division! The Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners are both at 83 wins. They actually play each other the next two nights in Houston, so ideally they will split, then both get swept this weekend. The Astros end the season in Anaheim while the Mariners host the Athletics for a four-game set.
It could be possible that the Royals could finish out the season on Monday, travel to, say, Seattle on Monday, beat the Mariners, then fly to Baltimore on Tuesday, beat the Orioles, travel to Toronto to play in the official Wild Card game, then travel to Texas on Wednesday to take on the Rangers in the American League Division Series.
And just imagine, if the Royals win out, the Orioles lose out, the Yankees split their remaining games with the Red Sox, the Tigers win just one game the rest of the season, and the Mariners and Astros each only win a pair of games the rest of the season, we will have six teams tied for 85 wins. WILD CARD ARMAGEDDON!!!!
If Royals Devil Magic has any magic left, now is the time to use it.