MLB Postseason Picture: Cardinals-Brewers race offers best chance for final weekend drama

Mark Townsend
Yahoo Sports Contributor

It’s September, so the baseball games matter a little more. That’s why every day between now and the start of the postseason we’ll keep you updated on baseball’s postseason picture.

Fans hoping for chaos during the final weekend of the Major League Baseball season will be disappointed to learn Friday’s results.

With the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays officially clinching the American League’s two wild-card berths, the field of 10 teams is set. The only remaining movement in the standings will come in the form of seeding as the NL Central, NL wild card and AL wild card have not been completely settled.

The NL Central race between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers represents the best chance for real nail-biting drama.

The Cardinals were crushed, 8-2, by a Chicago Cubs team that had lost nine straight games coming into Friday night. Meanwhile, in Denver, the Brewers were defeated by the Colorado Rockies, 11-7.

It was a huge missed opportunity for both teams to change the landscape of the race. St. Louis still holds a one-game lead with two games left to play. A potential tiebreaker game on Monday remains in play. In that scenario, the losing team would have to turn right around and play the Washington Nationals in the NL wild-card game on Tuesday.

Races to keep an eye on

NL CENTRAL: To summarize the key scenario here: The St. Louis Cardinals’ magic number to clinch the division is two.

NL WILD CARD: The Brewers’ loss was also costly in the wild card standings. The Washington Nationals were 8-2 winners against the Cleveland Indians, which lowered their magic number to host the NL wild-card game to one.

AL WILD CARD: The A’s and Rays are both in, but we still don’t know which team will host the wild-game card. With the A’s losing a 4-3 heartbreaker in Seattle late Friday night, these teams are now tied in the standings. However, the A’s hold the tiebreaker based on head-to-head play. If they’re still tied after Sunday, the A’s will host Wednesday’s AL wild-card game.

HOME FIELD: With their 4-0 win against the Angels, the Astros have clinched home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. That means the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins will meet in one ALDS, while the Astros host the AL wild-card winner in the other. The Astros’ magic number to clinch home field for the entire postseason is one.

The St. Louis Cardinals missed a chance to take control of the NL Central. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Already clinched

DODGERS: The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their seventh straight NL West title on Sept. 10.

YANKEES: The New York Yankees clinched their first AL East title since 2012 on Sept. 19.

BRAVES: The Atlanta Braves clinched their second straight NL East title on Sept. 20.

ASTROS: The Houston Astros clinched their third straight AL West title on Sept. 22.

TWINS: The Minnesota Twins clinched their first AL Central title since 2010 on Wednesday.

NATIONALS: The Washington Nationals clinched an NL wild-card spot Tuesday by sweeping a doubleheader against the Phillies.

CARDINALS/BREWERS: The NL Central foes are guaranteed at least a wild-card berth after clinching this week.

Games to Watch

Cubs at Cardinals (7:15 p.m. ET) — The Cardinals can’t afford another slip-up after Friday’s fiasco. Rotation stalwart Adam Wainwright will take the ball in what could be St. Louis’ biggest game of the season.

Brewers at Rockies (8:10 p.m. ET) — The Brewers suffered only their fifth loss in September on Friday. They haven’t lost back-to-back games since Aug. 25-27. Gio Gonzalez, who’s posted a 1.80 ERA this month, will look to keep that streak going for Milwaukee.

Elimination Watch

• For the first time since 2015, the MLB postseason will not include the Cleveland Indians. The three-time defending AL Central champions were knocked off their perch by the 100-win Minnesota Twins earlier in the week. On Friday, they were officially eliminated from the AL wild-card picture as well. Now that the postseason field is set, the next elimination won’t take place until Tuesday’s NL wild-card game.

More from Yahoo Sports: