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Astros 2016 Wild Card Scenarios

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We take a look at what needs to happen for the Astros to grab a wild card spot.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Halfway through August, the Astros are still in playoff contention, but certainly not where they were expected to be when the season began. Coming into Monday, the Astros are in 3rd place in their division, 7.5 games behind the 1st place Rangers, and 4 games behind the 2nd AL wild card spot.

Needless to say, a wild card spot looks more plausible at this point in the season. However, a bevy of other contenders are also vying for the two wild card spots, many of them from the AL East.

Since so many of the wild card teams are from the same division and will likely play each other several times down the stretch, I thought it would be interesting to see if the Astros might benefit from the intra-division games.

Assumptions

I should preface this by saying that with so many games still remaining and so many teams still in the mix, an exercise like this requires some pretty broad assumptions. Still, I think it is worthwhile to look at a few scenarios.

For all scenarios, I have assumed the following:

Scenarios

First, let's take a look at how many times these teams will face each other before the season ends:

TOR BAL BOS DET SEA HOU
vs. TOR 0 6 6 0 3 0
vs. BAL 6 0 9 3 0 4
vs. BOS 6 9 0 4 0 0
vs. DET 0 3 4 0 0 0
vs. SEA 3 0 0 0 0 6
vs. HOU 0 4 0 0 6 0

For our first scenario, let's assume that these 6 teams play fairly evenly against each other. The results would be as follows:

TOR BAL BOS DET SEA HOU
vs. TOR 0-0 3-3 3-3 0-0 1-2 0-0
vs. BAL 3-3 0-0 4-5 2-1 0-0 2-2
vs. BOS 3-3 5-4 0-0 2-2 0-0 0-0
vs. DET 0-0 1-2 2-2 0-0 0-0 0-0
vs. SEA 2-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-3
vs. HOU 0-0 2-2 0-0 0-0 3-3 0-0
Record against these teams 8-7 11-11 9-10 4-3 4-5 5-5
Record against other teams 16-13 12-11 15-12 21-17 20-17 18-16
Current Record 67-51 66-51 64-52 63-54 62-54 61-57
Final Record 91-71 89-73 88-74 88-74 86-76 84-78

So the fact that many of the wild card teams will be playing each other down the stretch doesn't help the Astros enough by itself. Now let's suppose that the other teams still play each other pretty evenly, but the Astros sweep their remaining games against these teams:

TOR BAL BOS DET SEA HOU
vs. TOR 0-0 3-3 3-3 0-0 1-2 0-0
vs. BAL 3-3 0-0 4-5 2-1 0-0 4-0
vs. BOS 3-3 5-4 0-0 2-2 0-0 0-0
vs. DET 0-0 1-2 2-2 0-0 0-0 0-0
vs. SEA 2-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 6-0
vs. HOU 0-0 0-4 0-0 0-0 0-6 0-0
Record against these teams 8-7 9-13 9-10 4-3 1-8 10-0
Record against other teams 16-13 12-11 15-12 21-17 20-17 18-16
Current Record 67-51 66-51 64-52 63-54 62-54 61-57
Final Record 91-71 87-75 88-74 88-74 83-79 89-73

Sweeping a 4-game series in Baltimore and winning all 6 remaining contests against Seattle seems like a tall task, but it would put the Astros in position to claim the 1st wild card spot (if all the other assumptions hold true). They could actually lose 1 of those games (giving them 88 total wins) and still get to play at least a 163rd game to settle the wild card spots.

Perhaps the Astros could benefit from the top two AL East teams beating up on the other teams. Let's assume that Toronto and Baltimore dominate the other teams, but that the Astros still split their series against Baltimore and Seattle.

TOR BAL BOS DET SEA HOU
vs. TOR 0-0 3-3 1-5 0-0 1-2 0-0
vs. BAL 3-3 0-0 2-7 1-2 0-0 2-2
vs. BOS 5-1 7-2 0-0 2-2 0-0 0-0
vs. DET 0-0 2-1 2-2 0-0 0-0 0-0
vs. SEA 2-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-3
vs. HOU 0-0 2-2 0-0 0-0 3-3 0-0
Record against these teams 10-5 14-8 5-14 3-4 4-5 5-5
Record against other teams 16-13 12-11 15-12 21-17 20-17 18-16
Current Record 67-51 66-51 64-52 63-54 62-54 61-57
Final Record 93-69 92-70 84-78 87-75 86-76 84-78

That still wouldn't be enough to get the Astros into the playoffs. The Astros would have to play better than .500 against Baltimore and Seattle.

So finally, let's still assume that Toronto and Baltimore dominate the other teams, but that the Astros also play better in their remaining games against Baltimore and Seattle.

TOR BAL BOS DET SEA HOU
vs. TOR 0-0 3-3 1-5 0-0 1-2 0-0
vs. BAL 3-3 0-0 2-7 1-2 0-0 3-1
vs. BOS 5-1 7-2 0-0 2-2 0-0 0-0
vs. DET 0-0 2-1 2-2 0-0 0-0 0-0
vs. SEA 2-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 4-2
vs. HOU 0-0 1-3 0-0 0-0 2-4 0-0
Record against these teams 10-5 13-9 5-14 3-4 3-6 7-3
Record against other teams 16-13 12-11 15-12 21-17 20-17 18-16
Current Record 67-51 66-51 64-52 63-54 62-54 61-57
Final Record 93-69 91-71 84-78 87-75 85-77 86-76

In this case, the Astros miss the second wild card spot by one game. So if they can sweep the Orioles or win 5 of 6 against Seattle, they would play a tie-breaker game with Detroit to determine the second AL wild card.

Conclusions

The Astros cannot rely on the fact that many of the other wild card contenders play each other often down the stretch. They can definitely still make the playoffs, but they will need to take care of their own business to make that happen.

Go 'Stros!!