Everything you need to know about the 2023 MLB playoffs
⚾️ The set-up
The MLB playoffs consist of four rounds: the best-of-three Wild Card (WC) Series, the best-of-five League Division Series (LDS), the best-of-seven League Championship Series (LCS), and of course, the reason for the season — the best-of-seven World Series, which begins on Friday, October 27th. That’s a whole lot of baseball.
The 12-team postseason field features six squads from each league — the American League (AL) and National League (NL). Each is represented by its three divisional winners (East, Central, and West) and the league’s next best three teams (aka the WCs).
And with last year’s increase in playoff teams, the WC round has changed dramatically. As of 2022, there are two three-game series and all three of those games are hosted by the higher-seeded team. There’s no place like home, right?
- The new format also gives each league’s top two regular-season teams a bye to the DS, where they’ll play one of the WC Series winners.
🔴 American League
No. 6 Toronto Blue Jays vs. No. 3 Minnesota Twins: The lowly AL Central–winning Twins come limping into the postseason in search of their first playoff game win since 2004. With shortstop Carlos Correa and late season breakout star Royce Lewis hampered by injuries (but expected to suit up), it’ll be up to lockdown pitcher Sonny Gray to get the job done.
- The Jays, meanwhile, are dealing with their own spooky October curse: Toronto hasn’t advanced past the Wild Card round since 2016. That said, the Blue Birds hold a defensive edge with hurler Kevin Gausman and former Twin José Berríos holding down the rotation.
- To add to the excitement, these squads evenly split their six tilts this season. And while Minnesota owns home-field advantage, Toronto has postseason experience, not to mention stars shortstop Bo Bichette and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
No. 5 Texas Rangers vs. No. 4 Tampa Bay Rays: A battle between two teams who got off to blazing hot starts, this showdown will be all about the offense. And it should be quite close — the Rangers won the season series 4-2, but only outscored Tampa Bay 27–25.
- The Rays have become a postseason mainstay in recent years, including a 2020 World Series appearance, but will be looking to avenge their unexpected early bounce from last year’s Wild Card round.
- Out in Arlington, the Rangers overcame brutal injuries to make their first postseason appearance since 2016. A major reason why? The 2022 offseason acquisition of shortstop Corey Seager, one of the AL’s best hitters.
No. 1 Baltimore Orioles (bye to ALDS): Grab a poncho because the Bird Bath is alive and well in Baltimore, with the Os returning to the postseason for the first time since 2016. Buoyed by their (eerily homogenous) youth movement, Baltimore went from a 100-loss season in 2021 to 100 wins this year.
- The youngins to know? Franchise catcher Adley Rutschman and Rookie of the Year candidate shortstop Gunnar Henderson. They have officially left the nest.
No. 2 Houston Astros (bye to ALDS): It came down to the final day of the regular season, but the defending
cheaters champs retained their spot atop the AL West, winning their sixth pennant in the last seven seasons.
- And they did it with much of their power-hitting core still intact, including outfielder Kyle Tucker and the man everyone loves to hate, third baseman Alex Bregman. Add returning ace Justin Verlander to the mix and the ’Stros might just run it back.
🔵 National League
SOURCE: ERIC HARTLINE/USA TODAY SPORTS
No. 6 Arizona Diamondbacks vs. No. 3 Milwaukee Brewers: Don’t expect many runs in this one — the Brewers boast the best ERA in baseball while the DBacks scored just two runs in their last three games.
- That said, there will be two electric hitters on the diamond: Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich, a former MVP who’s been looking like his old self, and Arizona’s Corbin Carroll, a Rookie of the Year contender also known for his incredible catches.
- Arizona topped the Brew Crew four out of six times in the regular season, but face a tough challenge in Milwaukee pitcher Corbin Burnes and lights out closer Devin Williams. Heck, even the Brewers’ position players are throwing strikeouts.
No. 5 Miami Marlins vs. No. 4 Philadelphia Phillies: An NL East showdown, these squads are very familiar with each other, having met 13 times this season, with the Fish holding a narrow 7-6 edge. But the Phillies certainly have playoff history on their side — they’re the defending NL champs while Miami hasn’t played postseason ball since 2003.
- Philly also ran much of that 2022 World Series–contending squad back, including former MVP Bryce Harper and Kyle “Schwarbomb” Schwarber. And they added shortstop Trea Turner, who’s been electric with the City of Brotherly Love behind him.
- As for Kim Ng’s crew, the Marlins live for the pressure — they have the best record in one-run games this year. With the always flashy center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. leading the way, the Cinderella Story might just continue.
No. 1 Atlanta Braves (bye to NLDS): Leading nearly every major offensive category and boasting perhaps the most fearsome starting pitching rotation in baseball (when they’re healthy), it’s no wonder Atlanta holds the best record in MLB.
- Their roster is loaded with talent, but one player stands out above the rest: outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who this year became the first to ever hit 40 home runs and steal 70 bases in a single season.
No. 2 LA Dodgers (bye to NLDS): Death, taxes, and the Dodgers making the postseason. The 2020 champs will play October baseball for the 11th straight year, the longest active streak in the majors.
- And they broke countless records on the way there, with the dynamic duo of outfielder Mookie “what can’t he do” Betts and first baseman Freddie Freeman leading the charge. So stacked.
📺 How to tune in
The road to the Fall Classic begins when the Rangers take on the Rays today at 3:08 p.m. ET on ABC in the U.S. and Sportsnet in Canada.
- The Wild Card action will air on ESPN networks in the States before the later rounds air across Fox networks and TBS. And if you’re in Canada, you can tune in on Sportsnet all postseason long. Batter up.