It’s down to the final stretch of the MLB regular season schedule and the playoff picture is starting to get clearer. With that said, the potential for a last-second surprise or two still remains. Let’s take a look at the final sprint for the postseason finish line. Who’s in and where might seedings fall?

National League

Let’s start by getting the known quantity out of the way. With 9 games remaining on their schedule, the Los Angeles Dodgers already have 106 wins with no letup in sight. Like a runaway train, the Dodgers have left the rest of the league in its wake, clinching the NL West with a #1 seeding almost assured.

The fun really starts in the NL East where the New York Mets and defending World Series Champion Atlanta Braves are locked in a death match for the division title and a probable #2 seeding. Currently, the Mets are up by 2 games with 8 to play while the Braves still have 9 games remaining on the schedule. In all likelihood, this race will come down to 3 games being played from August 31 to September 2. That’s when the Mets will travel to Atlanta for what could be an epic showdown.

In the NL Central, the St Louis Cardinals have finally put some distance between themselves and the Milwaukee Brewers. They lead the Brewers by 7 games with 8 to play. If they clinch the division, as they should, they would be assured of the #3 seed. They are not out of the running for the #2 seed, but that would call for a dual late-season meltdown by both the Mets and the Braves.

There is a three-way battle for the final two playoff spots in the National League. The San Diego Padres are playing well of late and should make the grade. That would leave the aforementioned Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies battling for the last spot. The Phillies currently lead the Brewers by one game and have the offense to squeeze into the playoffs.

American League

At the All-Star Break, the New York Yankees looked to be on a roll towards a 120-win season. Now, they aren’t even the favorite to secure the AL’s #1 seed. That distinction goes to the Houston Astros. Here’s the kicker. The Yankees lead the Toronto Blue Jays by 8 games for the AL East Division title. They can ill-afford another meltdown as they had after the All-Star game. They should win the division on the back of OF Aaron Judge who is having one of the greatest seasons in MLB history. Toronto will make the playoff field as should the Tampa Bay Rays.

In the AL Central, the Cleveland Guardians have built a 10-game lead over the Chicago White Sox with the Minnesota Twins another 2 games back. This one could have gone down to the wire but the Guardians had too much pitching for the other teams to overcome.

In the AL West, the Houston Astros have clinched the division title and they lead the Yankees by 7 games for the #1 seed. In the last two months, the Astros have been near unstoppable with the offense and pitching staff hitting on all cylinders. Leading the way has been SP Justin Verlander, who returned this year after Tommy John Surgery. At the age of 39, he has been virtually unhittable, posting an ERA of 1.80 and a WHIP of 0.83. With a win/loss record of 17-3, he is well on his way to his third Cy Young Award in the AL.

It’s worth noting that while the Seattle Mariners are 18 games behind the Astros, they still lead the Baltimore Orioles by 4 games for the final Wild Card spot.

World Series Predictions

In the NL, the Dodgers look destined to represent the league in the World Series. However, the Mets have bats and a very good pitching staff. Take the Mets for the surprise like the Braves did last year.

In the AL, there is no sense picking against the Astros. This is a “5-tool” team that has everything they will need to conquer the mighty Yankees on the way to the World Series.