The Major League Baseball playoffs are scheduled to begin later this month, and much is still unknown at this point. Most importantly is where these games will be played.
But what is known is that the Twins, almost assuredly, will be participating in those playoffs. Though they entered their two days off sitting in third place in the American League Central, the Twins hold a 99.5 percent chance to make the playoffs, per FanGraphs.
At this point, FanGraphs projects the American League Central’s top three teams — the Twins, Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians — to make the playoffs with this year’s expanded format. All have odds north of 99 percent. This year, the top two teams from every division will make the playoffs, as well as two more wild-card teams to make eight in each league.
But there’s still a lot unknown about those playoffs. MLB reportedly will shift its playoffs to a bubble to lower potential COVID-19 exposure, though it is unknown whether the first round will be part of that bubble. Instead of a play-in wild-card round, this year all teams will compete in the first round, which will consist of a best-of-three-games series played entirely at one location.
The American League reportedly is scheduled to head to Southern California, where the parks in San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles could be used. National League teams reportedly will head to Texas to play in Arlington and Houston. The World Series would be played at the Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington.
“I would like to do whatever we can to make sure that we finish this season,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The last thing I think some of us want to see is that we get this far and then something unfortunate happens and we’re not able to finish it. So, whatever increases our odds of playing through and playing a World Series as a league, that’s what I’m in favor of.”
According to reports, that could potentially mean that the Twins — and other contenders who are spending the final week of their regular season at home — would be bubbling in a hotel during the last week of the season at home to minimize interactions and COVID-19 risks.
Coming into Wednesday’s games, the Twins were 27-18, just a half-game behind both Cleveland and Chicago, their next two opponents. They held the fifth-best record in the AL, but would be the seventh seed in the playoffs by virtue of being a wild-card team.
As it stands today, Tampa Bay and Toronto would come out of the AL East automatically, and Oakland and Houston would come out of the AL West. The Yankees would nab the second wild card.
There’s still plenty of baseball to be played — the Twins have 15 more games, the White Sox and Indians 18 each if all three teams complete their 60-game schedules — but as of the standings heading into Wednesday, the Twins would take on the Athletics either in Oakland or southern California. It’s very possible that the Twins win the division title, which could potentially mean hosting games at Target Field.
While there might not be much suspense in whether the Twins will make the playoffs or not, the jockeying for positioning over the next few weeks will provide excitement before an October like none other.
“Whatever they tell us to do, I know I will be prepared and we will be prepared to do it while also acknowledging that it may not work perfectly for every person,” Baldelli said. “We may have some opinions that maybe differ from that, but I would prefer to finish this year out as safely as possible.”