Six weeks remain in the 2018 regular season, then all trackers roll back to zero and the wonderful anarchy of the postseason begins. How will this October look? We don't know. Much is left to be settled between now and the end of September. That's great for all of us, because with so many races still unsettled, we're guaranteed a wild ride in the weeks to come.
At the same time, we're at the point where we can start to peek ahead at possible playoff matchups, especially in the American League, where five clubs currently hold 85 percent or better odds to get into the bracket. That means that in the junior circuit, there are only so many ways the postseason can take shape and only so many remaining regular-season matchups that can reasonably be called "a possible playoff preview."
One of those possible preview series begins Monday night at Fenway Park, where the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox will go toe-to-toe for four games. Both teams are strongly in command of their division races, so chances are that if Cleveland and Boston do meet in October, it will be in the American League Championship Series.
To tease this possible matchup, let's step into a version of a way-too-early postseason preview by taking the unfolding of issues as they would likely occur.
Between now and then
These teams still need to clinch their divisions, but with the Indians and Red Sox both holding leads at or approaching double digits, it's a matter of when, not if. Still, for both clubs, that's the first item on the to-do list. Boston currently has a 96.6 percent chance of checking that box; Cleveland is at 99.7. It's close to a done deal in each case.
Boston has owned the AL's best record for a couple of months now and the division rival New York Yankees currently are second in the East, albeit with a 9½-game deficit. So Boston's chances of locking down the league's No. 1 seed are exceedingly high.
For Cleveland, a No. 3 seed seems probable, but there is intrigue remaining on that front. The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics are separated by just one game in the AL West, but if you haven't noticed, the Indians are just three games behind the Astros/Athletics for the second seed. That's important -- the difference between owning home-field advantage during the LDS and not.