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MLB standings: What this week means for magic numbers for 2021 playoffs

Teams are locking up spots in the 2021 MLB playoffs. We break down what this week’s schedule means for each team looking to clinch a division title.

Pablo Reyes of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after scoring a run during the eighth inning in the game against the Chicago Cubs at American Family Field on September 18, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

We’ve got two more weeks left in the 2021 MLB regular season and we’re still waiting for the first team to clinch a division crown. So far we’ve had three teams lock up playoff berths with the Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants and Dodgers are in a tight race to see who will win the NL West division. The Brewers are the closest team to clinching a division title and will have a shot to do so this week.

The other three teams who will have a chance to cut into their magic number or clinch the division include the Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox. The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are in a tight race to see who wins the NL East, but that division likely won’t be decided until the final week of the regular season. As for those other three teams, if everything goes well for the Rays and ChiSox, they could clinch their divisions. The Astros have a bit more work to do to secure the AL West ahead of the Oakland Athletics.

AL East

Tampa Bay schedule

Wednesday, Sept 22 — The Rays beat the Blue Jays 7-1, and Boston won 12-5 over the Mets. Tampa’s magic number is now four, and they did clinch a playoff spot with today’s win.

Tuesday, Sept. 21 — The Rays lost to the Jays 4-2 while the Red Sox beat the Mets 6-3. The Rays are six games up on Boston and their magic number remains five.

Monday, Sept. 20 — The Rays beat the Jays 6-4 while the Yanks inched past the Rangers 4-3. So the Rays magic number improved to five after tonight. The Yankees are also only 0.5 game out of the second WC behind Toronto.

The Rays have two series this week. The first is a big one against the Toronto Blue Jays, who currently hold the second wild card into the playoffs in the American League. The Jays have 1.5 games on the New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox face the Mets and Yankees this week. The Rays magic number is at six entering Monday.

AL Central

Chicago schedule

White Sox vs. Tigers
White Sox vs. Indians

Wednesday, Sept 22 — Chicago and Cleveland both had their games postponed.

Tuesday, Sept. 21 — The White Sox lost 5-3 to the Tigers while the Indians beat the Royals 4-1. That leaves Chicago’s magic number at two.

Monday, Sept. 20 — The Indians lost two games to the Royals while the ChiSox lost to the Tigers. The Cleveland losses improve Chicago’s magic number to two heading into Tuesday. We could see the White Sox crowned division champs by mid-week.

The White Sox have a wacky schedule. They have a three-game set vs. Detroit before playing five games against the Indians. There’s a double-header Thursday before three more games over the weekend. Chicago’s magic number is four entering this week, so it feels like the White Sox should clinch the division pretty easily.

AL West

Houston schedule

Astros vs. Angels
Astros vs. A’s

Wednesday, Sept 22 — The Astros beat the Angels 9-5 while the Mariners beat the A’s 4-1. Houston’s magic number is down to three.

Tuesday, Sept. 21 — Houston beat the Angels 10-5 and the A’s lost 5-2 to the Mariners. That improves the Astros magic number to four over both Oakland and Seattle.

Monday, Sept 20 — The Astros beat the Angels 10-0 while the A’s lost to the Mariners 4-2. That improves the Astros magic number to six.

The ‘Stros have four games against the Halos before taking on the A’s with the potential to gain a lot of ground in clinching the division. Really, the only way Houston can blow this is to lose both three-game series against Oakland to finish the season. The Astros magic number is eight entering this week.

NL Central

Milwaukee schedule

Brewers vs. Cardinals
Brewers vs. Mets

Wednesday, Sept 22 — The Cardinals beat the Brewers a third straight day which leaves Milwaukee’s magic number at three.

Tuesday, Sept. 21 — The Cardinals beat the Brewers once again so Milwaukee’s magic number remains three.

Monday, Sept. 20 — The Brew Crew lost to the Cards in their series opener so Milwaukee’s magic number remains unchanged heading into Tuesday.

The Brewers can wrap up the division during a four-game series against the Cardinals to start the week. Milwaukee will have both Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff on the hill during the four-game set. The Brewers magic number is three entering this week.

NL West

Notable series

Dodgers vs. Rockies
Dodgers vs. D-Backs

Giants vs. Padres
Giants vs. Rockies

Wednesday, Sept 22 — The Giants beat the Padres 8-6 while the Dodgers lost 10-5 to the Rockies. San Francisco improves to two games up in the division.

Tuesday, Sept. 21 — The Giants beat the Padres 6-5 and the Dodgers beat Rockies 5-4. San Francisco remains one game up in the division.

Entering this week, the Giants have a 1.0 game lead on the Dodgers for first place in the division. San Fran has a slightly tougher schedule having to face the Padres and Rockies as opposed to the Dodgers, who face the Rox and D-Backs. This could give the Dodgers an upper-hand in regaining the division lead. Either way, this race should come down to the final week of the regular season anyway.