This is it, the final week of the 2023 MLB regular season, and with it, the fantasy baseball season.
League championships will be decided during this week totaling 91 games, including a doubleheader between the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, in which six teams (Arizona Diamondbacks, Rockies, Dodgers, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers) are scheduled to play seven times and four teams (Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals) are scheduled to play five games. Sunday's finale, as has been the case in every season since 2015, will feature all 30 teams playing games at roughly the same time. The earliest game on Oct. 1 begins at 3:05 p.m. ET and the latest starts at 3:15 p.m. ET, as real-life playoff races -- and fantasy titles, for our purposes -- are decided in real time.
Note that the week's total number of games has increased since Friday's original publishing time, and that there is now an earlier start to the week than expected. That's because the Diamondbacks and Yankees, whose Sept. 23 game was rained out, has been rescheduled for Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Additionally, the originally scheduled game Monday between the Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field has been moved to Thursday in order to accommodate the Diamondbacks-Yankees make-up game.
Those playoff races generally fuel the most reliable fantasy contributions during this final week, as motivated teams usually keep their regulars in there until the final pitch. In many cases, teams will even push their starters to deliver extra work, so don't be shocked if a still-contending team entering Oct. 1 gives an unexpected starter an extra, final-day assignment, whereas a team that wraps up its playoff face in advance of that date (or the weekend as a whole) might rest many of its regulars and either shorten a starter's assignment or skip it altogether.
Here are the teams that enter Week 25 within three games of important playoff positioning in either direction -- either an opening-series bye or a wild-card spot -- in descending order of their standing:
Baltimore Orioles: 2 ½ games ahead (and three in the loss column) in American League East, its winner guaranteed a first-round bye
Texas Rangers: 2 ½ games ahead (and three in the loss column) in AL West, its winner likely to earn a first-round bye, 3 games ahead for final AL wild-card spot
Toronto Blue Jays: 2 ½ games ahead (but two in the loss column) for AL wild-card spot
Arizona Diamondbacks: 1 ½ games ahead for National League wild-card spot
Chicago Cubs: 1 game ahead for NL's final wild-card spot
Miami Marlins: 1 game behind for NL's final wild-card spot
Cincinnati Reds: 2 ½ games behind (and three in the loss column) for NL's final wild-card spot
Houston Astros: 2 ½ games behind (but three in the loss column) in AL West, ½ game ahead (but tied in the loss column) for final AL wild-card spot
Tampa Bay Rays: 2 ½ games behind (but three in the loss column) in AL East
Seattle Mariners: 3 games behind in AL West, ½ game behind (but tied in the loss column) for final AL wild-card spot
Note that there are no tiebreaker games for MLB playoff spots, as the rules dictate that teams' head-to-head records decide any ties. Additionally, postponements during the final week can be problematic for scheduling, especially during the final (Sept. 29-Oct. 1) weekend, and games that have no bearing upon the playoff race might ultimately be canceled altogether.
Best of luck to you in your championship quest!