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Analyzing tiebreaker scenarios for the final American League wild card spot

The Red Sox, Mariners, and Blue Jays are clinging onto their playoff lives in the final weekend of the regular season

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

As we enter the final weekend of the MLB regular season, we have drama in the American League Wild Card race.

The New York Yankees (91-68) currently own the first wild card spot heading into Friday and are sitting two games ahead of both the the Boston Red Sox (89-70) and the Seattle Mariners (89-70), who enter the final weekend tied for the second wild card spot. Losing to the Yankees on Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays (88-71) for now are on the outside looking in, sitting one game back of the Red Sox and Mariners.

The Yankees effectively have the first AL WC spot locked down barring a meltdown in their season-closing series against the Tampa Bay Rays so for now, let’s look at potential tiebreaker scenarios for the other three teams and the second wild card berth.

Two-team tiebreaker

If two of these teams finish Sunday tied for the second wild card spot, they will play each other in a winner-take-all game on Monday. Home-field advantage in this game is determined by head-to-head winning percentage.

In this scenario, the advantage would go to Boston, who finished 10-9 against Toronto and 4-3 against Seattle. Seattle went 4-2 against Toronto this season, meaning the Blue Jays would hit the road if they ended up in a two-team tiebreaker scenario.

The winner of Monday’s game in this scenario would then advance to meet the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Three-team tiebreaker

If we reach max chaos with all three teams tied at the end of Sunday, then we’d reach a playoff within a playoff. Considering the above season records between the three teams, Seattle would host Toronto for the right to battle the Red Sox for the second wild card spot. The winner would then go on to play New York in the AL Wild Card game. Got all of that?

What’s in store for this weekend

The Red Sox will end the season with a three-game inter-league series at the Washington Nationals, the Mariners will host the Los Angeles Angels, and the Blue Jays will get one final crack at the last-place Baltimore Orioles. Buckle in, this should be fun.