how to mlb playoffs work 2022?
The 2022 Major League Baseball postseason was the postseason tournament of Major League Baseball (MLB) for the 2022 season. This was the first edition of the postseason since 2012 to have a new format, as it has been expanded to include six teams per league. The top two division winners of the American and National leagues receive first-round byes into the Division Series, and the worst-division winner is the third seed in their respective league. The three Wild Card teams are the fourth, fifth and sixth seeds. The third seed hosts the sixth seed, and the fourth seed does the same with the fifth seed in the best-of-three Wild Card series. The postseason started on Friday, October 7, two days after the end of the regular season.
The Wild Card series winners advanced to face the two best division winners from each league in the best-of-five Division Series (i.e. the 1 seed will face the 4/5 winner and the 2 seed will face the 3/6 winner). The winners of the League Division Series (LDS) will then move on to the best-of-seven League Championship Series (LCS) to determine the pennant winners that will face each other in the World Series.
In the American League, the Houston Astros were the first team to clinch a postseason spot, their seventh appearance in the last eight seasons. The New York Yankees also clinched their seventh postseason berth in the past eight years, while the now-Cleveland Guardians clinched their fifth postseason berth in the past seven seasons. The Toronto Blue Jays also returned, as they clinched their second postseason appearance in the past three years. The Tampa Bay Rays returned for the fourth year in a row, and the Seattle Mariners ended two decades of futility by clinching their first postseason berth since 2001, ending what was the longest active postseason drought in the American League and all of the four major North American sports leagues.
In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first team to clinch a postseason spot in MLB overall, marking their tenth straight appearance; this became the longest active postseason appearance streak in the four major North American professional sports leagues after the Pittsburgh Penguins failed to qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Dodgers became the first team to make ten consecutive postseason appearances since the Yankees did so from 1998 to 2007. On September 19, the New York Mets clinched their third postseason berth in the past eight years and first overall since 2016, marking the first time since 2015 that both New York City teams appeared in the postseason. The defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves clinched their fifth straight postseason berth on September 20. The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL Central title on September 27, which was their first division title since 2019 and their fourth consecutive postseason appearance. The San Diego Padres clinched their second postseason berth in the past three years on October 2. On October 3, the Philadelphia Phillies clinched their first postseason berth since 2011, ending what was also the longest active postseason drought in the National League.
The Wild Card Series saw three of the lower seeds advanced to the next round, while the Division Series saw the top two seeds in the National League win only one game each.
The postseason ended on November 5, with the Astros defeating the Phillies in six games in the World Series. It was the Astros' second championship in franchise history, and the latest date for a World Series game on record.
Major League Baseball tie-breaking procedures were revised this season to use head-to-head records to break any ties at the end of the regular season without playing tiebreaker games. Under the new format, the two best division winners in terms of record earned a first-round bye into the LDS. The three wild card teams are the fourth, fifth, and sixth seeds respectively. While the third-seeded team hosts the sixth seed, the fourth seed hosts the fifth seed.
The following teams qualified for the postseason:
Cleveland won the series, 2–0.
This was the second postseason meeting between the Rays and Guardians. The only other meeting was in the 2013 American League Wild Card Game, in which the Rays won in a shutout in Cleveland.
The Guardians swept the Rays to advance to the ALDS for the first time since 2018, capped off by a walk-off home run by Oscar González in the fifteenth inning of Game 2.
Seattle won the series, 2–0.
This was the first postseason meeting between the Mariners and the Blue Jays, the two American League expansion teams in 1977. This was the first postseason series appearance for the Mariners in 21 years, when they won the ALDS over Cleveland in five games, then lost to the eventual AL champion New York Yankees in five games in the ALCS.
The Mariners swept the Blue Jays to advance to the ALDS for the first time since 2001. The Mariners shut out the Blue Jays in Game 1 and in Game 2, the Blue Jays had a 8–1 lead after five innings, but two four-run innings enabled an unprecedented postseason comeback by the Mariners.
Philadelphia won the series, 2–0.
This was the second postseason meeting between the Cardinals and Phillies. The only other meeting was the 2011 NLDS, which was won by St. Louis in five games en route to a World Series title.
In Game 1, the Phillies were down 2–0 in the top of the 9th inning, but scored 6 runs, making an improbable comeback.
The Phillies swept the Cardinals to return to the NLDS for the first time since 2011. This marked the third postseason in a row in which the Cardinals were eliminated in the Wild Card round.
San Diego won the series, 2–1.
This was the first postseason meeting between the Mets and Padres. The Padres defeated the Mets in three games to advance to the NLDS for the second time in three years. This was the first time in history a 100+ win team failed to make it to the division series since the division series’s implementation back in 1995.
The Padres blew out the Mets in Game 1 thanks to a stellar pitching performance from Yu Darvish, and while the Mets evened the series in Game 2, were shut out 6-0 in Game 3.
Houston won the series, 3–0.
This was the first postseason meeting between the Mariners and Astros. This marked the first appearance in the ALDS for the Mariners since 2001, which they won over the Cleveland Indians in five games before falling to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.
The Astros swept the Mariners to return to the ALCS for the sixth year in a row. Despite ending in a sweep, each game of the series was decided by two runs or less. In Game 1, the Mariners held a 7–5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth until Houston's Yordan Alvarez hit a walk-off three-run home run to take Game 1 for the Astros. In Game 2, the Mariners again held a late lead, until Alvarez hit a two-run home run to put the Astros in the lead for good. When the series moved to Seattle for Game 3, the game remained scoreless through 17 innings, setting a new MLB record for the postseason. In the top of the 18th inning, Houston's Jeremy Peña hit a solo home run to give the Astros a 1–0 lead. The Astros then closed out the series in the bottom of the inning.
New York won the series, 3–2.
Game 2 was originally scheduled for October 13 at 7:37 pm (EDT), but was postponed to the following day at 1:07 pm due to the forecast of sustained inclement weather. Game 5 was originally scheduled for October 17 at 7:07 pm (EDT), but was postponed to the following day at 4:07 pm due to rain.
This was the sixth postseason meeting between the Yankees and the Guardians. In their previous five meetings, Cleveland defeated the Yankees in the ALDS in 1997 and 2007, while the Yankees prevailed against them in the ALCS in 1998, the ALDS in 2017, and the Wild Card series in 2020.
The Yankees defeated the Guardians in five games to advance to the ALCS for the third time in six years. The first two games at Yankee Stadium were split by both teams. When the series shifted to Cleveland for Game 3, the Yankees held a 5–3 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, until the Guardians rallied with three runs to win and go up 2–1 in the series. The Yankees won Game 4 by a 4–2 score to avoid elimination and then closed out the series with a 5–1 victory in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.
San Diego won the series, 3–1.
Game 4 was originally scheduled for October 15 at 9:07 pm (EDT), but was postponed to 9:38 pm the same day due to the forecast of sustained inclement weather.
This was the second postseason meeting in the Dodgers–Padres rivalry. The previous meeting in the NLDS in 2020 was won by the Dodgers in a sweep en route to a World Series title.
In a significant upset given their regular season win differential, the 89-win Padres defeated the 111-win Dodgers in four games to advance to the NLCS for the first time since 1998.
The Dodgers took Game 1 in Los Angeles by a 5–3 score, but the Padres responded with a 5–3 victory of their own in Game 2 to even the series. When the series moved to San Diego for Game 3, the Padres narrowly took Game 3 thanks to stellar pitching performances from Blake Snell and Josh Hader to take a 2–1 series lead. In Game 4, the Dodgers jumped out to an early lead and scored one more in the top of the seventh inning to go up 3–0. However, the Padres rallied with five unanswered runs in the bottom of the inning to complete the upset series win.
Philadelphia won the series, 3–1.
The start for Game 2 was delayed due to rain on October 12. It was originally scheduled to be played at 4:35 pm (EDT) but was delayed to 7:30 pm (EDT) due to the forecast of sustained inclement weather.
This was the second postseason meeting between the Braves and Phillies. They previously met in the NLCS in 1993, which was won by the Phillies in six games before they fell in the World Series that year.
The Phillies upset the defending World Series champion Braves in four games to return to the NLCS for the first time since 2010. The Phillies stole a high-scoring Game 1 on the road in Atlanta, while the Braves responded with a 3–0 shutout in Game 2 to even the series. However, when the series moved to Philadelphia, the Phillies blew out the Braves in Games 3 and 4 to complete an improbable upset.
Houston won the series, 4–0.
Game 4 was originally scheduled for October 23 at 7:07 pm (EDT), but was postponed to 8:54 pm the same day due to the forecast of sustained inclement weather.
This was the fourth postseason meeting between the Astros and Yankees. The previous three meetings (2015, 2017, 2019) were won by the Astros. This was the sixth straight appearance in the ALCS for the Astros, dating back to 2017.
The Astros swept the Yankees to return to the World Series for the fourth time in six years (in the process denying a rematch of the 2009 World Series). The Astros took Game 1 thanks to a solid pitching performance by Justin Verlander, and in Game 2 the Astros held off a late Yankees rally to go up 2–0 in the series headed to the Bronx. The Astros shut out the Yankees in Game 3, 5–0, to go up 3–0 in the series. The Yankees attempted to avoid a sweep in Game 4 as they led going into the seventh inning, however, it was short-lived as Houston’s Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman both hit RBI singles to put the Astros in the lead for good, securing the pennant.
This was the first time the Yankees were swept in the ALCS since 2012. With the win, the Astros became the fourth team in MLB history to win their first seven postseason games, joining the 1976 Cincinnati Reds, the 2007 Colorado Rockies, and the 2014 Kansas City Royals. Astros rookie Jeremy Peña was named the ALCS MVP.
Philadelphia won the series, 4–1.
This was the first postseason meeting between the Padres and Phillies. The Padres previously won their past two appearances in the NLCS – in 1984 and 1998. The last time the Phillies appeared in the NLCS was in 2010, where they were upset by the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. The Phillies defeated the Padres in five games to return to the World Series for the first time since 2009.
Game 1 was a pitcher’s duel between Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler and San Diego’s Yu Darvish. The Phillies took Game 1 in a 2–0 shutout. The Padres rallied from an early deficit in Game 2 to tie the series with an 8–5 victory. When the series shifted to Philadelphia for Game 3, the Phillies won by a 4–2 score to take a 2–1 series lead.
Game 4 was an offensive duel - the Padres jumped out to an early 4–0 lead in the top of the first, but the Phillies cut the lead to one in the bottom of the inning. The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, while San Diego’s Juan Soto hit a two-run home run to regain the lead in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins tied the game with a two-run home run of his own, followed by an RBI double by Bryce Harper, as well as a single by Nick Castellanos which put the Phillies in the lead for good. The Phillies won 10–6 to go up 3–1 in the series. In Game 5, the Phillies jumped to an early 2–0 lead. Even though the Padres took the lead in the top of the seventh, the Phillies scored two more unanswered runs to take the lead for good and secure the pennant.
With the win, the Phillies became the first sixth-seeded team in MLB history to reach the World Series, due to the new playoff format that started with this postseason. Phillies Bryce Harper was named NLCS MVP.
During this series, brothers Aaron Nola of the Phillies, and Austin Nola of the Padres became the first pair of brothers to face each other as pitcher and batter in the MLB postseason.
Houston won the series, 4–2.
Game 3, originally scheduled for October 31, was postponed due to the forecast rain. All games were moved one day to accommodate the postponement.
This was the second postseason meeting between the Astros and Phillies. They previously met in the NLCS in the 1980 postseason, which was won by the Phillies in five games en route to their first World Series title. The Astros redeemed themselves after their scandal-plagued World Series title in 2017, as they defeated the Phillies in six games to win their second championship in franchise history.
In Game 1, Kyle Tucker of the Astros hit a three-run home run to put Houston up 5–0 going into the top of the fourth inning. The Phillies cut the Astros' lead to two with a three-run fourth inning, and J. T. Realmuto chased Justin Verlander from the mound as he drove in two runs to tie the game with an RBI double. The game remained tied after the ninth, and in the top of the tenth, Realmuto hit a solo home run off Luis García to put the Phillies in the lead for good. By winning Game 1, the Phillies became the first team since the 2002 Angels to overcome a five-run deficit to win a World Series game. In Game 2, Alex Bregman hit a two-run home run to put the Astros up 5–0 again in the fifth inning, but were able to maintain the lead as the Astros' bullpen held the Phillies to just two runs to even the series headed to Philadelphia. In Game 3, the Phillies blew out the Astros, 7–0, to take a 2–1 series lead, and became the fourth team in World Series history to hit five home runs in a single game, joining the 1928 Yankees, 1989 Athletics, and 2017 Astros.
However, their lead would not hold. In Game 4, the Astros made Major League Baseball history, as pitchers Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly helped the Astros pitch the first combined no-hitter in World Series history. It was the first World Series no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series, and the first postseason no-hitter since 2010, when Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter for the Phillies in Game 1 of the NLDS. In Game 5, the Astros held off a late rally by the Phillies to win by one run and take a 3–2 series lead headed back to Houston, giving Justin Verlander his first victory in a World Series game after previously losing six. In Game 6, the Phillies struck first in the top of the sixth, when Kyle Schwarber hit a solo home run. However, the Astros responded in the bottom of the inning, as Yordan Alvarez hit a three-run home run to put the Astros in the lead, and then Christian Vázquez hit an RBI single to score Bregman. The Astros then closed out the series in the top of the ninth.
The Astros became the first team to win the World Series at home since the Boston Red Sox did so in 2013. The Phillies' record in the World Series fell to 2–6 after the loss. Rookie Jeremy Peña was named World Series MVP.
This was the first time the Seattle Mariners made the postseason since 2001.
For the postseason, ESPN networks broadcast the Wild Card round; due to logistical concerns (especially with the fluctuating placements of teams in the standings during the final games of the regular season), the network employed remote production for the Padres/Mets and Mariners/Blue Jays series. The latter series employed a variant of the "enhanced world feed" model used in the 2020 season, with commentators and other selected staff on-site at Rogers Centre, but using video feeds from the Sportsnet production.
Fox Sports broadcast the National League Division Series, Championship Series, and for the 23rd consecutive season, the World Series; while TBS broadcasts the American League Division Series and Championship Series. Spanish-language broadcasts of all ALDS and ALCS games will air on MLB Network.
ESPN Radio aired the entire Major League Baseball postseason.
The two division winners with the best records in each league are rewarded with a first-round bye. For the National League this year, that means the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves will bypass the Wild Card Series and go straight to the best-of-five Division Series. In the American League, the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees have earned the same privilege.
The remaining division winner in each league automatically gets the No. 3 seed, which means they'll be pitted against the bottom wild-card team in the opening round. In the NL, that means the 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), gets matched up against the second No. 5 seed (the San Diego Padres).
In the AL, it's of course the same format applied to a different suite of teams. As noted, the Astros and Yankees will have byes. That leaves the No. 3 seed 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).
Of note is that the higher seed in each of the best-of-three Wild Card Series will host all the games of that series. That means the Cardinals, Mets, Guardians, and Blue Jays will host all of those first-round games even if their respective series goes the full three games. On the other side of things, the Phillies, Padres, Mariners, and Rays could see their 2022 postseason runs end without enjoying a playoff home game.
There's no re-seeding after each playoff round, but ideally that's 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 past years, teams with identical records that tied for a division crown or playoff spot squared off in an extra game to break the tie. This year, the tiebreaker is determined based on 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 get the playoff spot.
The owner-implemented lockout during the spring pushed back the start of the regular season and resulted in a somewhat cramped calendar – the regular season doesn't end until Oct. 5. That plus the extra playoff games resulting from expansion means postseason off days won't be as frequent this time around. Here's what's worth knowing about all that:
The best-of-three Wild Card Series will be played on three consecutive days, which means there is no off-day within any of the opening-round series. There are also no off days between Games 4 and 5 of the Division Series, or between Games 5 and 6 of the League Championship Series. Travel could be very challenging should teams on opposite coasts meet (like, say, Dodgers vs. the NL East champs in the NLCS). The World Series follows the usual 2-3-2 format with off-days 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 Nov. 5.
You can go here to check out the full postseason schedule for 2022.
It's worth recalling that the handful of structural adjustments in place for the regular season will not all be part of the playoff rule book. Specifically and most notably, there will be no automatic runner on second base should any playoff game reach extra innings, a rule that has been in place for the past handful of regular seasons in order to cut down on marathon extra-inning games and to cut down on pitcher workloads that result from said marathon extra-inning games. In the playoffs, however, the game will proceed in the usual manner until one team wins in the usual manner. As for the universal designated hitter rule, which means that the American League and National League now use the DH, it's a permanent presence in MLB now, and it all also be a part of the postseason.
As for postseason rosters, they will consist of 26 players, just as the regular-season rosters did until they (modestly) expanded for September.
Beginning in 2022, the MLB postseason will now feature:
The new format will do away with the single wild-card game, and instead pit the third-best division winner against the last team in while the best and second-best wild-card winners play each other. These games will all be played in a three-game series' hosted by the team with the better record.
MORE: MLB trade grades 2022: Live analysis of every deal completed at the deadline
One other consequence of the new format is the doing away of Game 163 and the implementation of a series of tiebreakers based on statistics (think NFL systems).
The new playoff structure in each league breaks down as follows:
The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will get a bye in this format, while the No. 3 seed will host the No. 6 seed in a best-of-three series. The same will occur between the No. 4 and No. 5 seed.
Under this structure, there will be no reseeding. The No. 1 seed will play the winner of the No. 4-No. 5 series, while No. 2 will play the winner of No. 3-No. 6. This is to keep series balanced, and to ensure that No. 1 isn't stuck playing against a division winner under any circumstances in the second round.
The 2021 playoffs looked as follows:
In this format, the Rays, Astros, White Sox, Giants, Brewers, and Braves all sat out during the wild-card rounds. The Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals played each other in the wild-card round.
Here's how things would have shaken out in the new format:
With the change, the White Sox would have hosted the Blue Jays in a best-of-three series while the Braves would have hosted the Reds in a best of three. Needless to say, this could have had huge implications on the National League side, given the Braves would go on to win it all last year.
While this will have a ripple effect on the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds due to the wild-card round now being a series, the third-best division winner takes the brunt of the hit in this new format. By removing the bye and giving it a series against the No. 6 team, It makes the road to the World Series that much more difficult. If that No. 6 team comes from a stacked division (e.g. the AL East or NL East this year), it's going to be a hard path for the third-best division winner.
If a situation like Giants-Dodgers in 2021 happens and two teams from the same division have the best records in their respective league, the second-best team will not get a No. 2 seed and instead be relegated to the No. 4 seed spot. Ergo, baseball won't be following the NBA precedent of minimizing divisions.
This has been the company line for MLB for some time. Don't expect to see the importance of winning the division dissipate any time soon.
MORE: MLB rule changes for 2022 season
As part of the new collective-bargaining agreement that the MLB and MLBPA ratified this past March, 12 teams will now make the playoffs.
Here’s everything you need to know about MLB playoff formats – what they looked like through the years and how they will look in 2022:
The 2022 playoff format will include 12 teams, rather than 10 teams.
In the 12-team format, there will be six playoff teams per league: the three division winners and three wild cards. They will be seeded as follows:
1 seed: Best overall record
2 seed: Second-best record among division winners
3 seed: Third-best division winner record
4-6 seeds: Three best records among non-division winners (in order of record)
The top two seeds will get a bye to the divisional round.
Different from previous years, there will be one extra playoff team per league competing in the playoffs. Additionally, there will not be any tiebreaker games to determine playoff teams in the 2022 season.
In the wild-card round, the No. 3 seed will host the No. 6 seed for a three-game series. Similarly, the No. 4 seed will host the No. 5 seed.
Then the winners will move on to the divisional round, where there is no re-seeding. The No. 1 seed hosts the winner of the 4-5 series, and the No. 2 hosts the winner of the 3-6 series.
Playoff formats started with only four teams, and now we have reached 12.
Well actually, before 1969, when only the World Series existed, two teams competed in the playoffs. Then from 1969 all the way until 1993, four teams began to compete in the playoffs: the winners of the four divisions played in the LCS, with the victors advancing to the World Series.
Beginning in 1995, eight teams competed in the playoffs. Each league had three division winners and one wild card advance to the divisional round, followed by the LCS and World Series. This lasted until 2011.
In 2012, 10 teams began to compete in the playoffs, including six division winners and four wild card winners. One game embodied a single-elimination wild-card game per league before the divisional series. This format lasted until 2019. It resurfaced again in 2021.
Under the new format, the two best division winners in terms of record earned a first-round bye into the LDS. The three wild card teams are the fourth, fifth, and sixth seeds respectively. While the third-seeded team hosts the sixth seed, the fourth seed hosts the fifth seed.
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