Follow along with division chases and wild-card races as we count down to October

As the month of September rolls along, we’re counting down to the end of the MLB regular season and following all the races to reach the 2023 postseason.

Below are the teams that have clinched their ticket to October or are within 10 wins (or opponent losses) of doing so, with more to be added in the days and weeks to come, as well as what the postseason would look like if the season ended today.

(All numbers current through play Sunday.)


What’s next: The Braves became the first team to clinch a spot in the 2023 postseason with a win over the Pirates on Sept. 10, and then they claimed their sixth consecutive division title with a win over the Phillies on Sept. 13. Owners of baseball’s best record, the Braves will next look to secure the NL’s top seed, guaranteeing a bye to the NLDS and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. With the way the Braves have been playing this year, it’s a safe bet that the NL playoffs will run through Atlanta.

How they got here: To put it bluntly, the Braves have been far and away the best team in MLB this season. With a nearly 30% chance of winning the World Series, per FanGraphs, and a do-everything star in Ronald Acuña Jr., the Braves have pitched and hit and slugged and defended their way beyond even the highest expectations for this year.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: They’re becoming baseball’s new final boss.


What’s next: In a season in which many expected the Dodgers to take a step back after a quiet offseason, they have instead continued to do what they do: Cruise past their NL West foes and into the postseason picture. With an extra-innings win Saturday against the Mariners, the Dodgers clinched a ticket to the playoffs and their 10th division title in the past 11 years.

How they got here: This Dodgers’ season has been anything but smooth, but once again, their depth has carried them through. Injuries abound in the starting rotation, leaving questions about who will pitch for L.A. in the postseason. Those questions have been only further complicated by Julio Urias’ recent arrest for felony domestic violence and the news that Walker Buehler won’t return this season.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: They make bad players good.


What’s next: The Orioles — who have been atop arguably baseball’s strongest division since July — are seeking their first AL East title since 2014 and the ticket to hosting the ALDS that comes with it. If Baltimore can hold off Tampa Bay, the Orioles will be the top seed in the AL postseason picture.

How they got here: One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2023 season, the young, fun, confident Orioles have surged to the top of the American League on the strength of a young core blossoming into stars simultaneously. The Orioles haven’t been swept in a series since May 2022, a span that encompasses catcher Adley Rutschman’s entire big-league career.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: They don’t know how to lose.


What’s next: After a split in last weekend’s series in Baltimore, the Rays still trail the Orioles for the lead in the AL East. They’d love to take the division crown and snag a bye into the ALDS, but if that doesn’t happen, Tampa Bay is solidly in position to take the AL’s top wild card.

How they got here: The Rays started 2023 as hot as any team in recent memory, jumping to an early lead in their division with a 13-0 start. Injuries (particularly to the rotation), attrition and Wander Franco’s legal situation have since taken a toll, but Tampa Bay has remained one of the AL’s top teams, comfortably above the fray in the wild-card picture.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: They’ve never won a World Series.


What’s next: It was division-title-or-bust for the Twins, as some team had to win the moribund AL Central. Minnesota clinched the division and the No. 3 seed in the AL postseason bracket with a win Friday against the Angels. The Twins will host a wild-card series — and at least won’t have to face the Yankees this year.

How they got here: The Twins led their division for most of the season on the strength of a bolstered pitching rotation led by Sonny Gray and Pablo López. On the offensive side, however, there’s much left to be desired, as Carlos Correa hasn’t found his stride, and Byron Buxton is injured yet again.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: They’re the underdoggiest underdogs.


What’s next: Cruising steadily toward the postseason, the Brewers need to hold off the Cubs and Reds just a bit longer to secure the NL Central title and wild-card hosting duties. Milwaukee currently sits six games ahead of Chicago in the standings, and the two teams will play a three-game series to close out the regular season.

How they got here: The Brewers have continued to do what they do best this season, with dominant pitching from both the rotation and the bullpen backed up by juuuust enough offense. The three-headed monster of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta — with a Devin Williams chaser — has led the way in a division race that has been Milwaukee’s to lose for a while now.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: Maybe because you’re a Mets fan.


What’s next: The Astros chased down both the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners to retake their usual place atop the AL West but are now battling it out with their division foes over the final three regular-season series. This division goes through Houston until proven otherwise, but the contest will likely go down to the wire, with the Mariners playing the rest of their season against the Rangers and Astros.

How they got here: The Astros started slowly this year and were out of the playoff picture for much of the first half, but after reacquiring Justin Verlander and getting some key players back from injury this summer, baseball’s favorite villains have looked like their usual selves and aren’t a team anyone wants to face in October.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: They can’t quit MLB’s worst catcher.


What’s next: With the NL East long since spoken for, the Phillies have been comfortably leading the NL wild-card standings for much of the season. Not to worry; they made a run all the way to the World Series from wild-card position last postseason and are primed to do the same this October.

How they got here: Buoyed as usual by a strong cast of hitters, the Phillies are following the familiar formula of prolific home-run power and just enough pitching. Their bullpen will be the question come playoff time, but after a slow start, Trea Turner has gotten scorching hot at just the right time.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: They have loads of star power.


What’s next: The Blue Jays have little chance of catching the Orioles for the division title or the Rays for the top AL wild-card spot, so it’ll be a road wild-card ticket or watching the playoffs from home for Toronto.

How they got here: Toronto started the season with hopes of contending for a division title, but while the season hasn’t entirely gone off the rails, this team never really seemed to be in the division picture. With the Rays and Orioles making the AL East a two-horse race, the Blue Jays are instead battling much of the AL West for entry into the wild-card field.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: The remaining schedule could work in their favor.


What’s next: With a win Friday over the Mariners plus an Astros loss, the Rangers took back the lead in the AL West and are shooting for their first division title since 2016. Featuring divisional battles until the very end of the regular season, this one will go down to the wire. And with the Blue Jays in the AL wild-card mix as well, one AL West team will get a wild card as a consolation prize, while another will likely be left out of the postseason picture.

How they got here: After a speedy and expensive rebuild, the Rangers came out of the gate hot this season and led the division in much of the early going, thanks largely to an offense that looked unstoppable. Then came a late-summer swoon that allowed the Astros and Mariners to catch up in the standings. Now it looks like these three teams will battle it out until the very end of the regular season.

Wins needed to clinch:

  • Postseason spot: 4

  • AL West: 7

Why you should root for them: They only know how to win big.


What’s next: The Mariners play their final 10 games of the season against their division rivals in the Rangers and Astros, so the AL West is very much still up for grabs. Entering that stretch, the Astros were atop the division (but barely), while the Rangers and Mariners were tied for the AL’s final wild-card spot.

How they got here: It has been an up-and-down season for the Mariners, who wrapped up a sleepy first half by hosting July’s All-Star festivities. Then, led by sophomore superstar Julio Rodriguez, the Mariners launched a scorching-hot August that vaulted them all the way to first in their division before they came back to earth just a bit.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: So 2022 wasn’t a fluke.


What’s next: In a very crowded NL wild-card picture, the Diamondbacks have inched their way up and ahead of the fray in recent weeks. A September sweep of the Cubs helped Arizona move into the No. 5 playoff seed with just a few weeks to go.

How they got here: Led by NL Rookie of the Year candidate Corbin Carroll and Cy Young contender Zac Gallen, the Diamondbacks have surprised many by contending ahead of schedule this season. They actually led the NL West in much of the season’s first half before a summer slump set them back of the Dodgers. Still, Arizona is primed to make the postseason one year after finishing fourth in the division.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: If you like stolen bases.


What’s next: The Cubs are trying to hold on to the final spot in the NL wild-card picture and would love to catch the Diamondbacks to get back to the No. 5 seed. The division is looking pretty far out of reach at this point, but the Brewers haven’t clinched … yet.

How they got here: The Cubs surprised the baseball world by buying at the deadline — and holding on to bounce-back star Cody Bellinger — to assert themselves as 2023 contenders. After making a contest of the NL Central, the Cubs have cooled off in September and fallen behind the Diamondbacks into the third wild card. Still, led by ace Justin Steele and a surprising supporting cast, the Cubs have themselves in playoff position.

Wins needed to clinch:

Why you should root for them: Because you want to support teams “going for it.”


AL wild-card round:

NL wild-card round: