As has been the case with so much this season, the playoffs will have a new look, with an expanded format that includes 16 teams for the first time in MLB history.
This will be the place to visit every day through the end of the regular season for updated looks at the potential playoff field, recaps of the biggest games, analysis of the most important storylines and previews of the critical games ahead.
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Current playoff field | The big story | Playoff debates | Key games ahead
Key links: MLB standings | Predictions| Stock watch | 2020 playoff schedule
If the season ended today ...
The matchups:Here's what the first round of the expanded playoffs would look like, based on the standings entering play Saturday, Sept. 19.
Best-of-three series, higher seed is home team
No. 1 Rays* vs. No. 8 Blue Jays
No. 2 White Sox* vs. No. 7 Indians
No. 3 Athletics* vs. No. 6 Astros
No. 4 Yankees vs. No. 5 Twins
No. 1 Dodgers* vs. No. 8 Reds
No. 2 Cubs vs. No. 7 Phillies
No. 3 Braves vs. No. 6 Cardinals
No. 4 Padres vs. No. 5 Marlins
*Clinched playoff spot
Magic numbers to clinch playoff spot
NL:Padres 2, Cubs 3, Braves 5
AL: Twins 1, Yankees 2, Indians 4, Astros 6, Blue Jays 6
Who is in?
Los Angeles Dodgers
The overwhelming preseason favorite was the first team to secure a spot in the postseason tournament, clinching a berth with Wednesday's win over the Padres. L.A. took two of three from San Diego, which sits in second place in the NL West.
What's next? The Dodgers, who hold the best record in baseball, are looking for their eighth consecutive NL West championship and the top seed in the National League. Of course, the big prize for the Dodgers would be their first World Series title since 1988. This will be L.A.'s 14th playoff appearance since they last won it all.
Dodgers must-read: How A.J. and Kate Pollock faced their daughter's premature birth during the COVID-19 pandemic
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox clinched their first playoff berth since 2008 on Thursday. It will be the 10th postseason appearance in the history of the franchise, which dates to 1903.
What's next? Chicago is looking for the AL Central title and perhaps even the No. 1 overall seed in the AL field. After taking three of four from the Twins, the White Sox hold a three-game lead in the Central.
White Sox must-read: Rookie Luis Robert could be baseball's next superstar
Tampa Bay Rays
TheRays clinched the sixth postseason appearance in franchise history and their second in a row. Last year, Tampa Bay beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game and lost to Houston in the division series.
What's next? The Rays' next goal would be to win the AL East title. It would be their first division crown since 2010.
The A's punched their third straight postseason ticket with a win over the Giants on Friday night in Oakland.
What's next?The A's are on the verge of securing their first AL West crown since 2013 and also are still in the mix for one of the AL's top two playoff seeds.
A's must-read:Inside the A's dominance and how they plan to make it last
Who could clinch next?
The Twins can clinch a postseason berth Saturday with a win over the Cubs or a Tigers loss to the Indians AND a Mariners loss to the Padres.
About last night ...
The race for No. 2 in the NL Central is heating up.
While the Cubs continued their march for the division crown with a 1-0 win over the visiting Twins, all of the teams battling for the automatic postseason bid that comes with finishing second won on Friday night.
Making the most of a doubleheader with the last-place Pirates, the Cardinals moved to .500 by taking both games in Pittsburgh.
After beating up on the Bucs for four games, the Reds showed it's time to take their late-season surge seriously with a 7-1 victory over the White Sox, who fell out of the No. 1 seed in the AL with the loss. The win coupled with San Francisco's loss in Oakland moved Cincinnati into the No. 8 spot in the NL.
Sitting just behind St. Louis and Cincinnati in the standings, Milwaukee added a W to the win column with a 9-5 triumph over the Royals powered by Jacob Nottingham's grand slam.
Also of note:The high-scoring Braves belted six home runs in a 15-2 rout of the Mets. ... The Dodgers scored 15 runs in Colorado, moving another step closer to their eighth straight NL West title. ... After Gary Sanchez's solo homer in the ninth forced extra innings at Fenway,DJ LeMahieu's 12th-inning RBI double sent the Yankees to their ninth straight winand ahead of the Twins for the No. 4 spot.
Pennant race debate: Which one player are you most excited to see this postseason?
David Schoenfield: Shane Bieber. The Indians haven't won the World Series since 1948 and they are hardly the favorites to win the American League, but Bieber is the pitcher most likely to have a Madison Bumgarner-type 2014 run and carry an otherwise mediocre team to the title.
Joon Lee: Tim Anderson not only finds himself in the middle of a chase with DJ LeMahieu for his second straight batting title, but also for the American League MVP with Cleveland Indians hurler Shane Bieber and teammate Jose Abreu amid another career season during a pandemic. Anderson is the heart and soul of the insurgent White Sox, and the 27-year-old shortstop will be making the first playoff appearance of his career. When considering those circumstances, his penchant for bringing excitement and flair to the field and his dynamic bat at the top of the lineup on the South Side, Anderson figures to make a sizable impression with the eyes of baseball fans nationwide squarely focused on the young and exciting White Sox squad.
Sam Miller: Yu Darvish hasn't appeared in the postseason since his disastrous pair of starts in the 2017 World Series, and in the ensuing period he has changed teams, gotten hurt, been a bust, added yet another pitch, and once more become -- surprisingly, but not too surprisingly -- one of the world's five best starting pitchers. He's never had the control over his arsenal that he has now, and nobody is more of a threat to throw a no-hitter in any given start. He doesn't need to redeem himself for the 2017 World Series -- his career is so much more than those two starts -- but it'll be really satisfying to watch him play the ace this October.
Bradford Doolittle: In both 1997 (Livan Hernandez) and 2003 (Josh Beckett), the Marlins' championship runs were fueled by a hot, emergent pitcher. While I'm not predicting Miami will go on a title romp if it gets into the playoffs, Sixto Sanchez could be that kind of emergent pitcher for them this October. Both his traditional results and his Statcast metrics are elite, and he could be going up against a club that has never seen him before in the opener of a best-of-3 series. And that opponent could end up being the Dodgers.
Alden Gonzalez:Sixto Sanchez -- because I don't think anybody has an answer for him at the moment.
Key games ahead
A's-Giants, Sunday (4 p.m. ET): Will the Giants' lead in a tight race for the NL's final playoff spot last through a tough three-game series with their Bay Area rivals?
Twins-Cubs, Sunday (7 p.m. ET on ESPN): It's a Sunday night ace showdown as Yu Darvish tries to help his Cy Young case against Jose Berrios and the Twins.
McCutchen homers, plays rock-paper-scissors with coach
As Andrew McCutchen rounds third base on a solo home run, he gets a game of rock-paper-scissors in with Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan.
Reds jack 3 dingers in the 3rd to run away with a win
Tucker Barnhart, Joey Votto and Jesse Winker each hit long balls in the third inning as the Reds jump to a 6-0 lead en route to beating the White Sox.