The Cincinnati Reds would be in the playoffs today if the season were to end. But they would get in by virtue of tiebreaker scenarios that can and will change over the final week of the season. The Reds are 27-27 after winning two of three against the Chicago White Sox this weekend and are in a three way tie with the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Francisco Giants for the final spot in the wild card, but the Reds have played two more games than both of them – they are 26-26.

The playoff tiebreaker scenarios for a 2-team tie is head-to-head records. But if there’s not a match up between those teams the next tiebreaker is the intradivision record for each team. If there’s a 3-team (or more) tie, then it automatically goes to the intradivision records for all teams.

Right now that intradivisional record has the Reds ahead of the Giants and the Brewers, but that could change. Cincinnati is also dealing with a potential situation that could include the St. Louis Cardinals or the Philadelphia Phillies. Here’s a breakdown of all four of those teams, plus the Reds, and where they stand now.

Team W L W% divRecord Opponents
Reds 27 27 .500 19-18 MIL/MIN
Brewers 26 26 .500 16-16 CIN/STL
Giants 26 26 .500 15-17 COL/SDP
Phillies 27 26 .509 20-16 WAS/TBR
Cardinals 26 24 .520 18-16 KCR/MIL/DET

The St. Louis Cardinals may or may not have to play two games in Detroit to end the season. If the two games are needed to determine playoff spots, they will be played. If they are needed, then they will be played a week from today.

Since the tiebreaker may come down to either head-to-head record or intradivisional record, the three games starting tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers are pivotal for each team. On top of simply winning and improving their record, the Reds are 4-3 against the Brewers. A 2-1 or 3-0 series win can change the outcome if the two teams wind up being tied at the end of the season for either the second place spot in the division or the wild card spot.

Fangraphs calculates the playoff odds for all of the teams in baseball. They do so bad on the teams current record, as well as projecting how that team is likely to finish their schedule. For Cincinnati, they have a 51.9% chance at making the playoffs – basically a coin flip. Here’s how the National League looks when games begin on Monday:

Team Wins Losses Playoff Odds
Braves 31 22 100.0%
Marlins 28 25 83.6%
Phillies 27 26 73.4%
Mets 24 29 6.8%
Nationals 20 32 0.0%
Cubs 31 22 100.0%
Cardinals 26 24 80.6%
Brewers 26 26 58.5%
Reds 27 27 51.9%
Pirates 15 38 0.0%
Dodgers 38 16 100.0%
Padres 34 20 100.0%
Giants 26 26 43.0%
Rockies 23 29 2.1%
Diamondbacks 20 34 0.0%

All five teams have at least one contender remaining on their schedule, and particularly in baseball – anyone can beat anyone on a given day and it’s not really a surprise.

There are a lot of scenarios that could play out with all of these teams. The National League Central is where the most action is, however. The Brewers and Cardinals, as well as the Brewers and Reds all face off against each other in the final week. Someone has to win and lose those games, which likely works out in favor of the Phillies and Giants. But the Brewers certainly have a lot of control over how their fate turns out given their opponents.

The Reds have some control over what happens, too. A sweep of the Brewers would go a long way towards eliminating Milwaukee. It wouldn’t do the trick all on it’s own, but it would eliminate the Brewers from finishing ahead of the Reds since the best they would be able to do at that point is 30-30, while the Reds could only be as bad as 30-30 and would own all tiebreakers over them.

Beyond that, though, things are out of the Cincinnati Reds control. They can only do their part in winning out. One of the Cardinals or Brewers has to lose at least two games moving forward, but there’s a possibility that all but one team among this group wins out. It’s unlikely, of course, but possible. The downside for Cincinnati right now is that they have played more games than everyone else. The upside is that they have a day off between their series and that could help them out – both with their rotation as well as simply getting a day of rest for the bullpen and position players as they head into the final series of the regular season with the Twins.

It’s been a long time since the Cincinnati Reds were in this position this late in the season. Things are obviously a lot different this year than in the past given that the season didn’t begin until a week was remaining in July. Being in the playoff race through 54 games in a normal seasons puts a team in the race near the end of May. It’s certainly good to be in the race at that point in time, but it also puts into perspective where the season would normally be at, too.

Baseball is being played in a 60-game season this year, though. With a week left, Cincinnati has a chance and at this point they aren’t exactly chasing a spot as much as they are trying to hold onto one. That’s certainly a foreign feeling of late for both the franchise and for the fans.

19 Responses

  1. RedBaron

    With Castillo, Gray and Bauer going against the Brewers and a day off Thursday don’t be surprised to see Castillo go on 3 days rest against the Twins if we are still deadlocked or trailing by that time. Could Sonny coming off injury and go on 3 days rest? Probably not. How about Bauer for the season finale with the season on the line?

    Some very interesting scenarios for the final week…..and exciting as hell!!

    • TR

      At this point, if the big three feel up to it, Bell should start each pitcher twice and prepare for the playoffs.

  2. RedBaron

    Another thing. Looking at the Phillies, Marlins and SFG schedule I think there is a good chance we get in via WC if we finish .500.

    Marlins final 7 all on the road vs the Braves and NYY.
    Phillies all 7 on the road vs the Nats and TB.
    SFG 8 games vs the Rockies and SD.

  3. RedsFan11

    Going to be a stressful week for all of Reds country!

  4. CFD3000

    It’s exciting to be scoreboard watching with a week to go, and even more exciting that the Reds have been playing and winning important games for the last two weeks. I’m not going to get tangled up considering all the scenarios, just rooting for the Reds to win more games. The Brewers series is critical, but a) it’s at home, b) the 3 studs will be on the mound, and c) everyone is healthy. Hats off to the Reds for this recent run to be back at .500 with six meaningful games to play. I’m excited to see how they turn out. Go Reds!

  5. Mark Moore

    Interesting that only 3 teams are completely, mathematically out of it and only 2 more are in the single digits (and fading).

    We need keep seeing this daily … I haven’t watched scoreboard this intensely in a long time.

    Schrödinger’s Reds for the Win!!!

  6. LDS

    Still a long road ahead. The Reds still aren’t hitting all that well. They’ve had exactly ONE game in September where they had at least 10 hits. Friday night benefited from a home run barrage that won’t happen every game. Yesterday, the White Sox walked 11 batters. That’s not going to happen every day either. It’s not bad luck. It’s bad strategy and bad execution.

    • Chris

      Very true. The problem for the Reds, and they are going to have to address this, is that they only score via the HR, Walks, and errors. That is not a good recipe when facing top notch playoff team pitching.

  7. LDS

    Credibility? You’re being far too generous. Get Bauer to resign on a reasonable deal. Dump some dinosaurs and promote/acquire younger, consistent talent. Fire Bell and his staff and then we’ll consider a claim to credibility. Just not currently. When 1/2 the field makes the playoffs, being the last team isn’t a tremendous accomplishment. It’s just been forever since a Reds fan experienced the playoffs that we’ll settle for what we can get.

    • Jefferson Green

      Looks like somebody needs a Snickers. The team we love is in the playoff hunt, and many of us are enjoying it, including me!

    • Chris

      I agree with much of what you are saying, but this record so far is really based on a stretch from opening day to late May in a regular season. Consider that last year the Nat’s wouldn’t have even sniffed the Playoffs, let alone win the WS, if the season was this short. I do believe that this short season does show many holes that need to be fixed though, including a better manager.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    To a man the Reds should be focused on themselves and no one else. Scoreboard watching is pointless if you don’t take care of your own business. Hopefully that’s the mindset.

    Kind of ticks me off that they’re in this position to begin with. The run up to opening day was far too casual, and the lineups and pitching changes over the first 40 games had no sense of urgency. In a go-for-it season approximately 160 combined at-bats, the equivalent of a full time position player, was wasted on Colon/Peyton/Jankowski/Ervin/VanMeter. >30 bullpen innings wasted on Biddle/Raley/Jones/Reed/Strop, etc. In the event they don’t make it, the fans must reject any narrative that places fault on injuries or bad luck.

    • Redgoggles

      I agree with this, although more on the offensive side than the BP. The disastrous opening stench from the BP was largely due to Lorenzen/Iggy being bad than misuse, and Sims/Antone weren’t exactly proven commodities at that point. Beyond Ervin/JVM, the whole use of the handedness of the player overriding everything else has been bad, bad, bad. Don’t forget keeping/playing Davidson.

  9. MK

    As things wind down I think back to a couple previous seasons in my baseball memory. When I was 11 years old in 1964 the Phillies decided to use Chris Short and Jim Bunning on short rest and had one of the largest pennant collapses in baseball history and 1999 when the Reds went to Milwaukee and blew there clear path to the playoffs and were knocked off creating the losing tiebreaker game to the Mets, The schedule they have no choice but I’d keep the regular rotation in order, especially there is no precedence for it except Trevor saying he wants to.

    • RedsMonk65

      Not to mention that our two victories over the White Sox came with Mahle and Lorenzen starting on the mound — not one of the “big three.” Excited to see what happens, but am wary of throwing off everyone’s regular rhythm. But I guess you almost have to do it. Obviously, mixed reaction on my part. We’ll see how it all turns out.

      Someone above mentioned that the starting lineup is more important than the starting pitchers. I agree. We have to start hitting more consistently.

      Regardless, it is great to be having such discussions in late September!

  10. indyDoug

    St. Louis is 19-16 in the Division, not 18-16.

  11. Redgoggles

    Just win (tonight), baby! A win tonight is critical, going against their ace and no knowing how Sonny will look and/or Bauer on short rest. Plus the loser tonight gets more pressure and as much as I hate to admit it, the Brewers have more experience in these types of situations than we do.

  12. donny

    My Prediction ,

    1. Dodgers
    2. Braves
    3. Cubs
    4. Padres
    5. Cardinals
    6. Phillies
    7. Giants
    8. Reds

    I predict Marlins will lose 3 of 4 to the braves . Then get swept by the Yanks. Being eliminated from the playoffs .

    • seadog

      Anything can happen. I think Marlins young pitching is to good to falter that Bad. I think the Phils will fold