- If you're wondering why the Padres have such a lower division percentage than the Mets despite trailing by the same one game, it's because they lose a tiebreaker with the Diamondbacks which gives Arizona the division title and San Diego the Wild Card if they finish tied. If the same scenario happens in the East, the teams will likely play a one-game playoff, since the loser is unlikely to win the Wild Card.
- In theory, the Padres aren't in a big rush to clinch a playoff spot, but if they can do so on Saturday, they won't need to start Jake Peavy on Sunday, freeing Peavy to pitch two games in the NLDS. That's a huge upgrade for San Diego. You may remember that last year the Cardinals held back Chris Carpenter at the end of the regular season, hoping to clinch without him so they could get two NLDS starts out of him. The plan worked, and they went on to win the World Series.
The Padres are in with either a win Saturday or losses by Colorado and the Mets.
- The Red Sox have re-established themselves as the favorites (by plurality) to win the AL. It's not because they won the AL East, rather that they draw the Angels in round 1. Right now, the Yankees and Red Sox are far and away the best teams in the playoffs. Cleveland is well behind both, but L.A. of A. trails the pack by some margin. Boston's edge over New York is mainly a function of this favorable matchup.
- You may have heard that the number 1 seed in the AL this year will have their choice of playoff scheduling. Essentially, they can decide whether they want to be able to start their top two SP on full rest in games 4 and 5. Obviously, their opponent will have this option as well. If they decline, the other division series will be played on the extra rest schedule.
Naturally, if Cleveland has the best record in the league, they will probably elect to take this offer. They can exchange a Byrd-Hughes matchup for a Sabathia-Pettitte, which is certainly to their advantage. Starting Carmona and Sabathia in four of the five games of the series gives them their best chance to upset the Yankees.
What about Boston? They should swiftly decline the extra day of rest. Firstly, giving the Angels an extra day of rest gives them the chance to exchange a Joe Saunders start for one by John Lackey, so there's no real advantage for Boston.
More importantly, however: By declining the extra day of rest, Boston gives it to Cleveland. Cleveland then gets a significant boost to their chances of advancing to the ALCS, just as if they had taken the extra day off for themselves. Since the Red Sox would certainly rather face Cleveland in the ALCS than the Yankees, this move improves Boston's chances of winning the AL Pennant by roughly 1 percent, far from a trivial sum in a game that's won and lost at the margins.
This may sound devious, but I believe it's fair game, and I also think Theo Epstein and Co. are smart enough to have worked this out on their own. Interestingly, the extra day off also benefits the Indians; the Yankees are the ones who lose out on the deal.