Tigers playoff scenarios with five days to go

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers ace Justin Verlander acknowledges a standing ovation from the crowd as he goes to the dugout in the eighth inning against Cleveland on Sept. 27.

Detroit – The Tigers themselves shouldn’t be messing around with this. Their mission, with five games left, is to win – nightly. No need to complicate things by analyzing scenarios. Just win and add everything up at the end.

But, the reality is, they have put themselves into a position, a game out of the second wild-card position, where they need help. They could win out and still not get a playoff spot.

Entering play Wednesday, the Blue Jays own the first wild-card spot, with a two-game lead over the Orioles, who occupy the second spot.

The Tigers are one game back of the Orioles, three back of the Blue Jays.

So, for non-players’ eyes only, here are the scenarios.

► If the Tigers win out, they’d finish 89-73. If the Orioles go 4-1, the Tigers and Orioles would play a play-in game to break the tie, at Orioles’ Park. If they lose two or more, the Tigers would play the Wild Card game at Toronto Tuesday.

For the Tigers to get the top spot, the Blue Jays would have to lose at least three of their last five.

► If the Tigers go 4-1 (88-74), the Orioles would have to lose at least two of their last five and would still host the play-in game. The Blue Jays would have to lose at least four of their remaining five.

► If the Tigers go 3-2 (87-75), the Orioles would have to lose three to force a play-in game.

► If the Tigers go 2-3 (86-76), the Orioles would have to lose four of their last five to force a play-in game.

► If the Tigers go 1-4 (85-77), the Orioles would have to lose out.

Wild Card tiebreakers

If two teams tie for the first Wild Card, the tie will be broken by the following:

► Head-to-head record.

► Best winning percentage in intra-division games.

► Best winning percentage in intra-league games.

► Best winning percentage in the last 81 intra-league games.

(To extend the tiebreakers, continue to add one game to the sample of intra-league games, provided that game is not head-to-head, until tie is broken.)

► The winner will get the first Wild Card slot, and host the loser.

If two or more teams tie for the second Wild Card, the tie will be broken with play-in games on Monday, Oct. 3. The seeding of the teams (A, B, C and so on) will be determined by the above tiebreaker scenarios.

► If two teams — A hosts B, winner gets the second Wild Card.

► If three teams — A hosts B, winner hosts C, winner gets second Wild Card.

► If four teams — A hosts B, C hosts D, winners play off, with winner of A/B, hosting winner of C/D. Winner of second play-in game gets second Wild Card.

The Tigers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with both Seattle (4-3) and Houston (4-2), but not with Baltimore (2-5) or Toronto (3-4). Detroit would host potential tiebreaker games against the Mariners and Astros, but have to visit the Orioles or Blue Jays.

Games left:

Toronto — 5 (2 vs. BAL, 3 at BOS).

Detroit — 5 (2 vs. CLE, 3 at ATL).

Baltimore — 5 (2 at TOR, 3 at NYY).

Houston — 4 (1 vs. SEA, 3 at LAA).

Seattle — 5 (1 at HOU, 4 at OAK).

Yankees — 5 (2 vs. BOS, 3 vs. BAL).