2022 MLB Playoffs: New postseason format explained and why there are no more Game 163 tiebreakers

The 2022 Major League Baseball postseason? It looks! This year’s playoffs mark the debut of the new format negotiated under the seminal collective bargaining agreement. The field has expanded from 10 teams to 12, and the old Wild Card game has been replaced with the best-of-three Wild Card Series, which doubles as the first round. To go from 10 teams to 12, each league has added a wild card entrant. But that’s not the only wrinkle, as we’re about to get into details.

The figure

The two division winners with the best records in each league are awarded a first-round bye. For the National League this year, that means the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves will skip the Wild Card Series and go straight to the best-of-5 Division Series. In the American League, the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees have earned the same privilege.

The winner of the remaining division in each league automatically gets the No. 3 seed, meaning they will face the bottom wild card team in the first round. In the NL, that means NL central champion St. Louis Cardinals will face the No. 6 seed (the Philadelphia Phillies) in the Wild Card Series, while the top wild card team (the New York Mets) will match up against the second No. 5 seed (the San Diego Padres).

In the AL, it is of course the same format applied to a different suite of teams. As noted, the Astros and Yankees will have byes. That leaves the Cleveland Guardians, winners of the American League Central, to face the No. 6 seed (Tampa Bay Rays). That leaves the top wild card team (the Toronto Blue Jays) to face the second wild card team (the Seattle Mariners).

It’s worth noting that the highest seed in each of the best Wild Card series will host all games in that series. That means the Cardinals, Mets, Guardians and Blue Jays will all host those first-round games, even if their respective series go the full three games. On the other side of things, the Phillies, Padres, Mariners and Rays could see the 2022 postseasons end without enjoying a home playoff game.

There is no reseeding after each playoff round, but ideally this is a wrinkle that will be added at some point in the future.

With the addition of the Wild Card Series this year, MLB has done away with Game 163 tiebreakers. In previous years, teams with identical records tied for a division crown or a playoff berth played an extra game to break the tie. draw. This year, the tiebreaker is determined by head-to-head record (more on that here). The Brewers, for example, could end the season with the same record as the Phillies. But since the Phillies took the season series, 4-2, they own the tiebreaker and clinch the playoff spot.

The program

The owner-implemented lockout during the spring pushed back the start of the regular season and led to a somewhat tight calendar – the regular season doesn’t end until Oct. 5. That plus the extra playoff games resulting from the expansion means they gained offseason days. don’t be so frequent this time. Here’s what you need to know about it all:

The best-of-three Wild Card series will be played over three consecutive days, meaning there is no off day in any of the first-round series. There are also no days off between Games 4 and 5 of the Division Series or between Games 5 and 6 of the League Championship Series. The trip can be very difficult if teams on opposite coasts meet (like, say, the Dodgers against the NL East champions in the NLCS). The World Series follows the usual 2-3-2 format with days off between Games 2 and 3 and Games 5 and 6. However, if the 2022 World Series goes the full seven games, then it won’t end until the night of the 5 November.

You can go here to see the full 2022 postseason schedule.

The rules

It’s worth remembering that the few structural adjustments that apply to the regular season won’t all it’s part of the playoff rulebook. Specifically and most notably, there will be no automatic runner on second base should a playoff game go to extra innings, a rule that has been in place for the past handful of regular seasons in order to reduce extra-inning marathons and reduce load shedding pitcher’s work resulting from said marathon extra-inning games. In the playoffs, however, play will continue in the normal manner until one team wins in the normal manner. As for the universal designated player rule, meaning the American League and National League now use the DH, it’s a permanent presence in MLB now, and it’s all part of the postseason, too.

As for the postseason rosters, they will consist of 26 players, just like the regular season rosters did until they expanded (to medium) for September.

Just to clear up any confusion, major changes to the lineup for the 2023 season and beyond will not be part of the landscape after the 2022 season. These changes are the implementation of a pitch clock, the banning of infield changes, and the use larger bases. Again, these new wrinkles will begin next season and will not be part of the upcoming playoffs.

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