The field is set.
There will be no final-day drama this year, as all the remaining questions pertaining to the postseason were answered Saturday. We now know the who, what, when, where and why of the 2017 playoffs.
The Red Sox answered many of the questions with the first game of the day, besting the Astros 6-3 to clinch the American League East title, while also ensuring the Indians will hold the top seed in the AL. The outcome also guaranteed that the Sox and Astros will face off in the ALDS next week after closing the regular season against each other.
For the Sox, it was a historic feat, the first time in team history they've won American League East titles in back-to-back years. Despite the division crown, the club will start their postseason journey on the road, with the Astros holding home-field advantage for their matchup. The Indians will await the winner of the Yankees-Twins Wild Card matchup.
On the other side of the ledger, the second Wild Card spot was finalized in heartbreaking fashion for the Brewers. With the team trying to put some pressure on the Rockies heading into the season's final day, the Brew Crew led the Cardinals 6-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning before the Cards rallied to score three runs. The Brewers couldn't answer in the top of the ninth despite putting a runner in scoring position with two outs, watching their postseason aspirations fall just short.
Although it might take some time to gain perspective, being eliminated from playoff contention on the season's penultimate day is a wild success for a team not expected to sniff October in 2017. With unexpected contributions across the board -- from Jimmy Nelson to Chase Anderson to Corey Knebel, and Eric Thames to Travis Shaw to Domingo Santana -- the immediate future is suddenly much brighter in Milwaukee.
But it's the Rockies' day to celebrate, another team outperforming expectations on the backs of some household names, and some surprise ones as well. Charlie Blackmon may be the National League MVP when it's all said and done, and Nolan Arenado is having another elite offensive year. But ranking among the surprises are guys like Greg Holland, who has saved 41 games after not pitching an inning in the majors in 2016, and Mark Reynolds, a journeyman who hit 30 homers for the first time since 2011.
The Rox will have to get past the Diamondbacks if they want to get their shot at the Dodgers in the NLDS. The Nationals will host the defending-champion Cubs in the other National League series.
It's going to be a fun month.
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Duffy Set For Elbow Procedure
The Royals may be saying goodbye to a number of regulars this winter.
The southpaw is set to undergo a procedure Tuesday to remove "loose bodies" in his elbow, Royals manager Ned Yost said Saturday. The procedure is being labeled as minor.
“I have what I have,” Duffy said in early September. “It’s something that is inflaming something in there. So we’ll get it looked at when we need to. But until then, right now, I could go. Nothing in my elbow is going to compromise my ligament.”
Duffy did pitch out the rest of the season, but it's a year the 28-year-old might prefer to forget. Duffy struggled in 24 starts, due in part to the elbow ailment, posting a 3.81 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 130/41 K/BB ratio.
Duffy just completed the first year of a new five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Royals last winter.
Quick Hits: Max Scherzer left Saturday due to a right hamstring cramp, the Nationals said after the game. It's great news if that's all it is, but we'll have to wait and see if there are any lingering issues. While there haven't been any announcements, Scherzer is due to get the ball in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cubs ... Andrew McCutchen was scratched from the Pirates' lineup Saturday due to left foot discomfort. McCutchen fouled a ball off the foot Friday and was still sore. The Pirates obviously have no incentive to push him, so it's possible he's done for the season ... Chris Taylor (knee) was back in the Dodgers' lineup Saturday. Taylor sat out Friday after exiting Wednesday's game with a hyperextended left knee, but he's fine. He finished 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI in the Dodgers' win ... Eric Thames departed Saturday's game against the Cardinals after fouling a ball off his right foot. It's hard to be unluckier with foul tips than Thames has been lately, as this is the fourth time he's fouled a ball off the same foot. He's avoided any broken bones to this point but will likely be sent for X-rays ... Dee Gordon stole two bases and scored two runs while going 3-for-4 to help the Marlins pound the Braves 10-2 on Saturday. The stolen bases were the 59th and 60th of the year for the second baseman, putting him one ahead of Reds speedster Billy Hamilton with a game left to play.