The Giants are right in the middle of the fight to grab one of the final two postseason spots in the National League. If they prevail, they now know what October will look like.
MLB finalized the postseason schedule on Tuesday morning, announcing that first-round games will be played entirely at the home ballpark of the higher seed, with games airing only on ESPN and TBS, but that the subsequent rounds will be at "bubble" sites. If the season ended today, the Giants would travel to Dodger Stadium for a best-of-three first-round series and the A's would host the rival Astros at the Coliseum.
Yep, this format has the potential for some serious early drama.
With MLB expanding from 10 teams to 16 in the postseason, the postseason will be played as a straight bracket:
Beginning with the second round, clubs will shift to neutral sites for what MLB called "health, safety and competitive considerations." American League games will be held at Dodger Stadium and Petco Park, and the National League will play at Globe Life Field, the new home of the Rangers, and Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The schedule was designed that way so teams like the Dodgers, Padres and Astros do not play at home beyond the first round, if they advance. The ALCS will be held at Petco Park and the NLCS will be in Arlington, which also will host the World Series.
The American League postseason games begin September 29, two days after the end of the regular season. The National League kicks off a day later.
There's one more twist to all of this. Prior to the World Series, each series will be held without off days since there is no travel involved, which in theory should help the better and deeper teams.
With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Giants have a one-game lead over the Reds for the final NL wild-card spot. The A's have a 6 1/2 game lead over the Astros in the AL West but are still fighting for seeding.
Here's the complete schedule for every round: