With three weeks remaining in the 2017 regular season, the pressure is mounting on contending teams to perform well to ensure keeping pace in the postseason pursuit. As a result, there is at least one matchup every day for the rest of the season that can have a dramatic impact on the standings.
Completing a sweep of a rival at this crucial point in the campaign can propel a team to a surefire playoff spot, while getting swept can put postseason baseball permanently out of reach. To ensure that you don't miss any of the key matchups down the final stretch, here's a guide to the series with the biggest playoff implications leading up to October (organized by date).
So crank up your MLB.TV, ignore all your other life responsibilities and get ready for some exciting baseball.
Monday, Sept. 11th - Thursday, Sept. 14th
Series to watch: Rockies at D-backs (4 games)
What to watch for: This could very well be a preview of the NL Wild Card Game, with the NL West rivals squaring off for the final time this year. The surging D-backs swept the Rockies at Coors Field at the beginning of September, so you can be sure the Rockies have this series circled on their calendars as an opportunity for a much stronger showing.
Exciting alternatives: Mariners at Rangers (4 games); Yankees at Rays (3 games)
Friday, Sept. 15th - Sunday, Sept. 17th
Series to watch: Orioles at Yankees (4 games)
What to watch for: Buck Showalter has never had a losing September as the Orioles' manager, which is why it's never surprising to see Baltimore in the thick of it this time of year. The Yankees have held onto the first AL Wild Card spot for much of the second half, but are still within striking distance of a team like Baltimore. These four games could very well determine whether the Yankees can hang onto that spot and host the Wild Card Game (assuming they don't catch Boston).
Exciting alternatives: Dodgers at Nationals (3 games); Red Sox at Rays (3 games); Brewers at Marlins (3 games); Rangers at Angels (3 games); Cardinals at Cubs (3 games)
Monday, Sept. 18th - Thursday, Sept. 21st
Series to watch: Twins at Yankees (3 games)
What to watch for: After posting the worst record in the Majors a year ago, the Buxton and Bartolo-led Twins have defied nearly all preseason expectations and are still very much in the postseason race. Like the Arizona/Colorado showdown, this could be a preview of the AL Wild Card Game. However, the outcome of the series could impact whether that game is played in the Bronx or in Minneapolis.
Exciting alternatives: Red Sox at Orioles (3 games); Rangers at Mariners (3 games)
Friday, Sept. 22nd - Sunday, Sept. 24th
Series to watch: Marlins at D-backs (3 games)
What to watch for: You may have heard of this Giancarlo Stanton fellow. He's hit 54 home runs and has almost single-handedly kept Miami in the conversation for the NL Wild Card. It's exciting enough that Stanton and Co.'s final road trip of the season sees them visit the two teams the Marlins are chasing. But, when you consider how hitter-friendly these two NL West parks are and Giancarlo's chase for 60 homers ... yeah, you'll wanna tune in.
Exciting alternative: Rays at Orioles (3 games); Cubs at Brewers (4 games)
Monday, Sept. 25th - Thursday, Sept. 28th
Series to watch: Marlins at Rockies (3 games)
What to watch for: It's actually rather incredible that Stanton has hit 54 home runs without having been to Colorado yet. In 20 career games at Coors Field, Stanton has hit .316/.417/.797 with 10 dingers, including several tape-measure shots. If he isn't at 60 before this series, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him break that plateau during his three days in Denver.
Exciting alternatives: Royals at Yankees (1 game); Rays at Yankees (3 games); Cubs at Cardinals (4 games)
Friday, September 29th - Sunday, October 1st
Series to watch: Mariners at Angels (3 games)
What to watch for: At 16 years, the Seattle Mariners have the longest playoff drought in baseball. They've come oh-so-close to the postseason two out of the past three seasons, being eliminated on the final day of the 2014 season and the penultimate day of the '16 season, but they still haven't broken through. The M's have gone back and forth with the Fightin' Trouts all year long in the AL Wild Card race, and it could once again come down to the final weekend for both of these teams.
Exciting alternatives: Orioles at Rays (3 games); D-backs at Royals (3 games); Brewers at Cardinals (3 games)