Athletics

AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

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AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

OAKLAND -- With just nine games left in the regular season, the A's are in a great position to lock up a playoff berth for the second consecutive year.

Oakland sits atop the AL wild-card standings at 92-61, two games ahead of Tampa Bay and 2 1/2 games in front of Cleveland. The A's also have the easiest remaining schedule of the three clubs.

Here's a breakdown of each team's final three series and their odds to make the playoffs:

A's: 92-61 (9 games remaining)

3 vs. Rangers (74-79)
2 at Angels (69-83)
4 at Mariners (64-88)

Oakland will play its final nine games of the regular season against sub-.500 AL West opponents. With a magic number of eight to clinch the top-wild card position, the A's likely only need to win five of the nine games. A 6-3 record would just about guarantee them the top spot.

According to FanGraphs, the A's have a 96.3 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Rays: 90-63 (9 games remaining)

4 vs. Red Sox (79-72)
2 vs. Yankees (99-54)
3 at Blue Jays (61-91)

The Rays have the most difficult remaining schedule of the three wild-card contenders, with six games against the Red Sox and Yankees. New York still has something to play for as they try to beat out Houston for home-field advantage, while Boston's lineup is always dangerous.

FanGraphs gives Tampa Bay a 59.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Indians: 89-63 (10 games remaining)

1 vs. Tigers (45-106)
3 vs. Phillies (78-72)
3 at White Sox (66-86)
3 at Nationals (83-68)

The Indians have two tough series remaining as they battle the Phillies and Nationals from the NL East. Washington currently leads the NL wild-card race, while Philadelphia is three games out of the second spot.

According to FanGraphs, Cleveland has a 44.0 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Tiebreakers

The A's own tiebreakers against both the Rays and Indians, having won the season series against each club. That means, in the case of a two-team tie between the A's and either Tampa Bay or Cleveland, Oakland would still host the Wild Card Game.

[RELATED: Red-hot A's have work to do to attract fans]

It gets more complicated if all three teams tie for the two wild-card positions. The A's still own the tiebreaker, so they would host the Rays, with the winner earning the top wild-card spot. The Indians would then host the loser, with the winner of that game claiming the second wild-card position.

Of course, if the A's handle their business, it won't come down to tiebreakers.

LeBron James speaks out on Rob Manfred's handling of Astros scandal

LeBron James speaks out on Rob Manfred's handling of Astros scandal

The way MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has handled the Astros' cheating scandal left many fans, and players, outraged.

Angels superstar Mike Trout, who isn't one to be controversial or outspoken, said he didn't agree with the lack of punishment toward members of the 2017 Astros team. And on the other side of the country, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge admitted to taking down a photo he shared with Astros second baseman Jose Altuve because he didn't feel it held any meaning anymore. 

The latest athlete to have a say in what's going on in the world of baseball? LeBron James.

Yes, he doesn't play baseball, but the NBA superstar and global icon took to Twitter on Tuesday to make his opinion known.

The extra-long hashtag alone truly shows how the 16-time All-Star and four-time MVP feels on the subject.

At the end of the day, they're all playing sports, and King James wants something to change as well. He explained if he were to go through something similar in the basketball world, he would be just as upset as the rest of the MLB players have shown.

Manfred spoke to the media earlier on Tuesday and addressed the Astros' wrongdoing during that 2017 World Series run.

[RELATED: Fiers says Astros 'cheated as a team']

He complimented A's pitcher Miker Fiers, the "whistleblower" who shed light on the subject back in November. Manfred said Fiers "did a service" for the industry by going on the record, noting that it would have taken longer to clean up the mess this has caused without Fiers coming forward.

The players will continue to be angry if more is not done on the issue.

The ball remains in Manfred's court. 

Rob Manfred working to protect A's pitcher Mike Fiers from retaliation

Rob Manfred working to protect A's pitcher Mike Fiers from retaliation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A’s starting pitcher Mike Fiers played a huge role in exposing the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. He provided firsthand knowledge and evidence of wrongdoing by the Astros and put his name behind it.

Some believe his actions as a whistleblower were just and appropriate helping clean up major league baseball.

Others disagree. Fiers has received heavy flak for his role shedding light on cheating in baseball, from those in the industry and fans watching this scandal unfold. That’s especially true among the Astros fanbase, which has made him a public enemy for bringing this to light.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was asked in a Tuesday press conference about the criticism and flak pointed his way, and said the league will make sure he is safe and protected whenever he is pitching and when the A’s are on the road playing in an environment hostile to Fiers.

“We will take every possible step to protect Mike Fiers wherever he is playing,” Manfred said, “whether it’s in Houston or somewhere else.”

[RELATED: Melvin has sky-high expectations for A's this season]

Manfred continued his comments, offering unprompted praise for Fiers’ role as a whistleblower.

“I want to be really clear about this,” Manfred said. “Mike, who I do not know, did the industry a service. I do believe that we will be a better institution when we emerge at the end of this episode, without a Mike Fiers, we would probably have a very difficult time cleaning this up. It would’ve taken longer. We would’ve done it eventually, but it would’ve taken a lot longer. I have a real problem with anyone who says Mike did anything other than the right thing.”