Choose Your Own Diamondbacks Post-Season Adventure

As noted in last night's recap, we reach the final day of the 2011 regular season, with a lot to be decided. It didn't seem this would be the case at the start of the month: at that point, St. Louis was 8 1/2 games back of Atlanta for the wild-card, and the Red Sox were leading the AL East, with the second-place Yankees a comfortable 7 1/2 up on Tampa Bay in the wild-card race there. But while the division races were all wrapped up relatively early, here we sit, with the races for the final spot in both leagues potentially going to tie-breakers, and the winners of the Central and West still tussling for home-field and to avoid the East champions.

Let's concentrate on the National League, since that's where the Diamondbacks are. I was going to do the whole solo adventure thing, like a certain renowned recap, and even started down that road. However, I soon discovered that if I took this approach, you would see this last-day primer some time around the middle of November, which would not be particularly useful. So we'll take the dungeon dressing as read, shall we? Use your imaginations on this, and take your mythical hero or heroine, armed only with their trusty remote control, into the dark and mystical land of Seligania.

There are four games of importance taking place today. In chronological order, these are [all times Arizona]:

  • 4:10pm. Philadelphia vs. Atlanta - J. Blanton (1-2, 5.03) vs T. Hudson (16-10, 3.23)
  • 5:05pm. St. Louis vs. Houston - C. Carpenter (10-9, 3.59) vs. B. Myers (7-13, 4.31)
  • 5:10pm. Pittsburgh vs. Milwaukee - J. Locke (0-2, 4.97) vs. Z. Greinke (15-6, 3.86)
  • 6:40pm. Los Angeles vs. Arizona - T. Lilly (11-14, 4.12) vs.  J. Saunders (12-12, 3.58)

Conveniently, the first two will decide the fate of the National League wild-card, and the second two will decide home-field advantage and set the actual post-season match-ups. The wild-card comes down to this. If Atlanta or St. Louis win, and the other loses, than the winner will become the wild-card. That's it. However, if the two teams pull out the same result - either both winning or losing - then everything else become irrelevant, because the Braves and Cardinals will mean for a play-in tiebreaker tomorrow in St. Louis. I guess this would be the adventuring equivalent of "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike", and we'll do this again tomorrow.

The Brewers have the edge as far as becoming the #2 seed goes, with their fate in their own hands. If Greinke can take them to victory over the Pirates, the Diamondbacks' game becomes irrelevant. Milwaukee will have home-field advantage against either Atlanta, if they win the wild-card, or Arizona, if St. Louis win the wild-card. We need to win to have any hope of tying Milwaukee, and in addition, hope that Pittsburgh can pull off an upset. However, the Brewers are taking a risk by throwing Greinke, arguably their #2 pitcher, in here. It would mean he won't be able to pitch until Game 3 of the Division Series, and can only get one start unless he is used on short rest.

Below, there's a handy chart  that you can print out, keep beside you as the day progresses, and cross of scenarios as they are eliminated. I'll post an updated version of the chart in the Gameday Thread for tonight's game, by which point we should have a better handle, at least on the Atlanta/St. Louis situation. However, as we saw last night, even a five-run lead when the opposition is down to their final out, is not necessarily safe... And, can I just add, "Woooo"?

ATL STL MIL ARI Post-season
W W W W ATL @ STL play-in
MIL is the #2 seed
W W W L ATL @ STL play-in
MIL is the #2 seed
W W L W ATL @ STL play-in
ARI is the #2 seed
W W L L ATL @ STL play-in
MIL is the #2 seed
W L W W ARI @ PHI
ATL @ MIL
W L W L ARI @ PHI
ATL @ MIL
W L L W ATL @ ARI
MIL @ PHI
W L L L ARI @ PHI
ATL @ MIL
L W W W STL @ PHI
ARI @ MIL
L W W L STL @ PHI
ARI @ MIL
L W L W STL @ PHI
MIL @ ARI
L W L L STL @ PHI
ARI @ MIL
L L W W ATL @ STL play-in
MIL is the #2 seed
L L W L ATL @ STL play-in
MIL is the #2 seed
L L L W ATL @ STL play-in
ARI is the #2 seed
L L L L ATL @ STL play-in
MIL is the #2 seed

Half of the 16 possible scenarios are inconclusive, leading to a play-in game tomorrow in St. Louis. Only four of them lead to the Diamondbacks getting home-field advantage. One of these sees us play Atlanta, one Milwaukee, and two see us awaiting the result of the play-in game. Of the 12 road scenarios, six would also see us not knowing who we face, until after the play-in game. The other six are evenly split between Milwaukee and Philadelphia. I think we need to call this year "Schrodinger's Post-Season" and wait for the wave functions to collapse into a live or dead cat actual playoff brackets...

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