Unless the MLB playoff version of the apocalypse happens and we have three teams in each league tie for the wild card, the Texas Rangers will know who their first round opponent by the middle of the week.
But before then, we get to prognosticate on who Texas could play in Division Round of the playoffs that begin for the American League on Friday, and it does matter who they play. Spoiler alert, Texas at Detroit is not a Rangers fan favorite scenario.
We know that the AL East Champions are the New York Yankees, the AL Central Champions are the Detroit Tigers and with Texas wrapping up the AL West on Friday night, all the division winners are set.
The biggest two questions are who will win the wild card? And whether Texas or Detroit will be the No. 2 seed.
Entering Saturday, Texas and Detroit were tied with 91 wins, but Detroit held the tie-breaker because they won the season series. Boston held a 2.5-game lead in the wild card race over Tampa Bay and a 3.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels.
Scenario one: Wild card winner is from the East. If any team wins the wild card from the AL East, they will automatically play the No. 2 seed team. In the first round of the playoffs, the wild card team canít play a team from its own division and will play the next highest seed.
Thus, if Boston or Tampa wins the wild card, they will travel to either Texas or Detroit, depending on who has the best record.
Scenario two: Los Angeles wins the wild card. This looks less likely on Saturday than it did on Thursday, however, it is not out of the question.
If the Angels win the wild card, since Texas will be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, the Angels will play New York.
Texas and Detroit will play each other in the first round and the host of the series will be determined by who has a better record. Remember, if they are tied, Detroit holds the advantage in the season series.
Scenario three: Texas wins No. 2 seed. If the Rangers pass Detroit for the number two seed and the wild card comes from the AL East, Texas will host that opponent; either Boston or Tampa. If Texas wins No. 2 and the Angels win the wild card, Texas will host Detroit.
Scenario four: Texas wins No. 3 seed. If the Rangers cannot pass Detroit, they will not host a series at all in the first round and possibly not at all in the playoffs, unless the wild card team advances to the ALCS.
If Texas is No. 3 and the wild card comes out of the East, the Rangers will play New York in the first round.
If Texas is No. 3 and Los Angeles wins the wild card, Texas will play Detroit in the first round.
Best case scenario: The Rangers win the No. 2 seed, host a playoff series, and the wild card winner comes from the AL East. Texas would then have home field advantage against either Boston or Tampa. Boston would be limping into the playoffs and Texas has done well against Tampa.
Worst case scenario: Texas plays Detroit and the Tigers have home field advantage. In this case Detroit is No. 2 and Texas is No. 3.
Texas then would have to see the best pitcher in the American League, Justin Verlander, twice in a five game series. If you lose both of the games he throws, you must win the other three to advance, leaving very little room for error.†
And if you beat Verlander, you have to do that in Detroit, where he will get to throw twice, likely in game one and in game five of the series. Verlander is 24-5 overall this year and is 10-3 at home.
Second worse case Scenario: Texas plays Detroit, and Texas hosts.
At least they would get to host Detroit, but Texas would still have to find a way to overcome Verlander to advance to the ALCS. Verlander would likely pitch two games in Arlington instead of in Detroit.†
The week that was
Texas began a six-game, west coast road trip last weekend in Seattle. The Rangers lost the first game of the series 4-0 Friday, but then won 7-6 and 3-0 over the weekend as Neftali Feliz recorded saves on both Saturday and Sunday.
The Rangers flew south to Oakland where they improved their winning streak to four games with a 7-2 win on Tuesday with Derek Holland winning his 15th game of the year.†† Then on Wednesday, the Rangers squeaked by with a 3-2 win before losing 4-3 on Thursday in the final game of the series.
When the road trip was over, Texas held a five game lead in the division and its magic number was reduced to two.†
Then on Friday night, with a chance to win the division if the Angels lost to Oakland and Texas beat Seattle.
†The Rangers took care of their business and defeated the Mariners by a 5-3 score.† Just before midnight on Friday, the Angels lost to the Aís 3-1, wrapping up the AL West for the Rangers.
The week ahead
Texas will end the regular season with a Monday-Wednesday series in Anaheim with the Angels. On Friday, the ALDS is scheduled to be begin, time and location very much not determined.