There are three days left in the MLB regular season and the Twins control their fate as they take a one-game lead in the AL Central into a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.
To win the AL Central, the Twins simply need to finish ahead of the White Sox. A tie between the two clubs would go to Chicago due to a better head-to-head record against Minnesota, but the Twins are in the driver's seat and could land anywhere from the No. 1 seed to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, though the second or third seed is most likely.
How the Twins get the #1 seed: The Rays have a two-game lead on the Twins, so Minnesota will need to sweep the Reds and have the Rays get swept at home by the Phillies. If the Twins and Rays tie for the best record, the tiebreaker would go to the team with the higher winning percentage in its own division, which would be the Rays (27-13 vs. AL East).
How the Twins get the #2 seed: Minnesota simply needs to hold off the White Sox and win the AL Central while also finishing with a better record than the Oakland Athletics. A tie between the Twins and A's would go to the A's due to them owning a better intra-division record.
How the Twins get the #3 seed: The only way the Twins get the third seed is if they win the AL Central and finish behind or tied with the A's and Rays. Entering play Friday, Oakland is a half-game behind the Twins.
How the Twins get the #4 seed: To get the 4 seed, the Twins would need to finish second in the AL Central to the White Sox. Chicago plays a crosstown series against the Cubs this weekend.
How the Twins get the #7 seed: Finishing 5th is unlikely and Houston is pretty much locked into the 6 seed, but there is a scenario where the Twins get the 7 seed. It's only possible if the Twins finish third in the AL Central behind the White Sox and Cleveland. Entering play Friday, the Twins hold a one-game lead on Chicago and are two games in front of Cleveland.
If the playoffs started today (Friday), the Twins would be the No. 2 seed and face Cleveland in the best-of-three Wild Card series Tuesday-Thursday next week at Target Field.
If the Twins get the 3 seed they're all but guaranteed a first-round series at Target Field against the Houston Astros.
If the Twins lose the division and wind up being the 4 seed, they'll likely be staring down a three-game series at Target Field against the Yankees.
Minnesota's starting rotation for the Wild Card round isn't set in stone, though manager Rocco Baldelli said Thursday that he'll likely go with Kenta Maeda in Game 1, followed by Jose Berrios in Game 2 and Michael Pineda in Game 3.
"I think it’s what we’re looking at and that’s the way it’s lined up," Baldelli said. "The Thursday off-day kind of forced us into a spot where we’re going to have to make those calls fairly early. Obviously, we’re not going to make any official announcements, but what we’re looking at, it’s going to be difficult to make any changes. We don’t want to make any changes."