AL Playoff Picture: Examining Matchups, Seeding Entering Final Week

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After a long summer, there’s only one week left in the Major League Baseball season.

Just seven days remain in the 2016 campaign, with the regular season ending Sunday, Oct. 2. The last few weeks have seen plenty of movement in the American League, most notably from the Boston Red Sox, who have rattled off 11 consecutive wins to all but clinch an AL East title.

But the impact of the Red Sox’s win streak goes beyond its division. A few weeks ago, it appeared the Texas Rangers had the AL’s No. 1 overall seed sewn up, but Boston’s latest surge has the club tied with Texas for the AL’s best record with six games remaining on each team’s schedule.

So, what are the most likely playoff scenarios in the AL? Here’s how things stand as of Monday morning, with a look at the current playoff bracket, via MLB.com:

AL PLAYOFF SEEDS
No. 1 seed: Texas Rangers (AL West leader) — 92-64
No. 2 seed: Boston Red Sox (AL East leader) — 92-64
No. 3 seed: Cleveland Indians (AL Central leader) — 90-65, 1.5 games back
No. 4 seed: Toronto Blue Jays (Wild Card No. 1) — 86-69, 5.5 GB
No. 5 seed: Baltimore Orioles (Wild Card No. 2) — 85-71, 7 GB

AL DIVISION SERIES MATCHUPS
No. 1 Rangers vs. No. 4 Blue Jays/No. 5 Orioles
No. 2 Red Sox vs. No. 3 Indians

MLB playoff picture

The division races pretty much are wrapped up, and unless the Detroit Tigers (1 1/2 games behind the Orioles), Seattle Mariners (2 1/2 games back) or Houston Astros (three games back) make a serious run at the second wild card spot, the five teams above are your AL playoff participants.

The real intrigue lies in the top three seeds, which all could change over the final seven days. Here’s a look at those teams’ remaining schedules:

Rangers: vs. Brewers (three games), vs. Rays (three games)
Red Sox: at Yankees (three games), vs. Blue Jays (three games)
Indians: at Tigers (four games), at Royals (three games)

The Red Sox seemingly can’t lose, but securing the No. 1 seed will be a tough task, as the Rangers have the easiest schedule of the three down the stretch.

Landing at No. 2 might not be the worst for the Red Sox, though. The team has won its last three games against Cleveland and is 4-2 against the Tribe this season, while Toronto and Baltimore both have given Boston trouble at times this year. The Indians, meanwhile, might have trouble catching Boston or Texas with seven road games remaining against two tough division opponents.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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