Last night’s win over the Chicago White Sox was huge for the Cincinnati Reds. Facing off against the team in the American League with the best record, Cincinnati’s offense went off and put up seven runs and took a 7-1 win. That brought the Reds to .500, with a 26-26 record.
Winning always helps a team’s playoff odds. Cincinnati entered the night in second place by themselves, but when the night ended they weren’t alone because the St. Louis Cardinals swept a double header to pull even with the Reds. The Cardinals own the tie breaker with the Reds, too – so Cincinnati will have to finish with a better record in order to get the nod. For the time being, given the tiebreaker, despite the win, the Reds fell from the #6 seed to the #8 seed. At 26-26 they are ahead of the 25-25 San Fransisco Giants by a tiebreaker of their own (divisional record). The Reds are a game ahead of the Brewers in both the division and the wild card race.
Entering Saturday, Fangraphs gives the Cincinnati Reds a 62.1% chance of reaching the playoffs and a 3.3% chance of winning the World Series (12th highest odds). Baseball Reference gives the Reds a 55.9% chance of reaching the playoffs, but just a 0.4% chance of winning the World Series.
Tonight’s match up between Trevor Bauer and Dallas Keuchel is huge for Cincinnati. A win will get them over .500, and it will earn them a series win. Both things put them one step closer to the playoffs, but in a match up that features two Cy Young contenders, it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
The Reds don’t quite control their own destiny. If they were to win out, they’d finish 34-26. But if several other teams also were to win out – and that’s possible in theory, the Reds could still be on the outside looking in. It’s highly unlikely that anyone would win out, though. The tiebreaker for the divisional teams goes to head-to-head records. With no games remaining against St. Louis, the Reds lose any tiebreaker to them. The Reds are currently 4-3 against the Brewers and they have three games remaining against them, so that one is yet to be determined – but the Reds are currently a game up on the Brewers.
With a potential wild card spot, the tiebreaker first goes to the record of the teams in their own division. Cincinnati is currently 19-17 against the National League Central with three games remaining. They are battling with the Marlins, Phillies, and Giants for the wild card spots outside of the division. But if there’s a tie for the wild card spot that involves multiple teams and they aren’t all from the same division, then any head to head match up records go out of the window and it defaults back to intradivision records. Here’s how that stacks up, currently:
All of a sudden those three games coming up against Milwaukee hold a little more importance than just outright wins. They may be even more valuable in case of a tiebreaker scenario for a wild card position. Finishing second in the division takes away a lot of the “what if” scenarios, and it’s the best path. But if things come down to a wild card spot, the three games against the Brewers are enormous.
This has been updated to reflect better math.