What is the Astros' magic number to make postseason? Houston can clinch playoff spot in final series

ByMatt Guillermo KTRK logo
Thursday, September 28, 2023
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Astros are now in position to lock up a postseason spot heading into their final regular season series after earning the 8-3 win against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.

After starter Framber Valdez allowed a leadoff home run to JP Crawford, the defending World Series champions got a tying home run by Yordan Alvarez in the fourth inning, before Mauricio Dubon launched a 397-foot, go-ahead bomb with two runners on.

With a 4-1 score, Valdez allowed Seattle to get back two of those runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning before retiring the side. He gave way to relievers Kendall Graveman, Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu, and Ryan Pressly, who all kept Seattle from scoring again.

A bench-clearing situation unfolded at the end of the sixth inning, when a fired-up Hector Neris retired Seattle's Julio Rodriguez and gestured toward the Mariners' young star.

The relievers got insurance runs - three scores in the seventh inning and a solo homer by Martin Maldonado in the eighth.

The win pads Houston's lead for the third and final American League wild-card spot to a game and a half.

Houston already won on Monday night but lost on Tuesday.

The victory also came hours after the Astros opened tickets sales for their postseason games before their playoff spot is even clinched.

ABC13 Sports is looking at the Astros' series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where the 'Stros and their AL playoff rivals stand, what needs to happen for a Houston clinch, and what the data shows about the World Series champs' chances.

Where do the Astros and other remaining AL rivals stand?

The Astros (87-72) have a 1.5-game lead over Seattle (85-73) for the third AL wild-card berth.

At the same time, the Texas Rangers, who own the AL West's top spot, are in position to dethrone the Astros from the division crown. At 89-69, they hold a two-and-a-half game lead over second-place Houston and a four-game lead over third-place Seattle.

The Rangers can lock up the division when they face the Mariners in Seattle for four games Thursday through Sunday.

The Astros can also sneak into the second AL wild-card spot, which is held by Toronto. The Blue Jays (87-71) hold a half-game lead over the Astros.

After Wednesday night, Houston has three games remaining, all against the Arizona Diamondbacks, while Toronto, Texas, and Seattle have four games each left.

Of Texas, Seattle, and Toronto, Houston owns a season-series tiebreaker against only the Rangers.

What's a magic number, and how does it apply to the Astros?

A playoff-clinching magic number is the amount of games a team has to win combined with its closest rival's losses for a postseason spot. This takes into account games remaining.

After Wednesday night, Houston's magic number is at three for the third AL wild-card spot, meaning if they sweep Arizona, they're in. If not, they need to win at least two of three against the Diamondbacks, and the Mariners will need to sweep the Rangers.

The Astros are also in the running for the AL West crown, albeit with an extremely small chance to earn it. That magic number is six, which means ideally Houston would need to win all of its remaining wins and get help in the form of three Texas Rangers losses in their next four games.

What are Houston's odds of making the postseason?

Take this for what it is, but ESPN Analytics posted Wednesday a projected playoff bracket that puts the Houston Astros as the No. 6 seed against the No. 3-seeded AL Central champs, the Minnesota Twins, in the AL wild-card round. The winner of the best-of-three series, which all of the games would be played at the higher-seeded team's ballpark, goes on to face the No. 2 seed, which is currently the Texas Rangers.

Heading into Wednesday, the Astros sat at a 61% chance of making the playoffs. That meant three out of five times, Houston is a postseason team under these precise circumstances. Houston had a 53% chance of earning an AL wild-card spot and an 8% chance of winning its division.

With the win now, the Astros own an 84% chance of making the postseason.

What's left in Houston's schedule?

  • Friday: at Arizona, 8:40 p.m.
  • Saturday: at Arizona, 7:10 p.m.
  • Sunday: at Arizona, 2:10 p.m.+

All times are CT.

+ - denotes final Astros game of 2023 regular season

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Data compiled by Sports Reference and ESPN was used in this report.


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