There are 5 playoff races that will be decided in large part by head-to-head matchups that are upcoming in the last 2 series of the season. This makes for great baseball, as we'll decide important races on the field. Here's what to look for:
NEW ORLEANS at AUSTIN (3 games)
What's on the line: New Orleans and Austin are battling for the last wild card spot in the NL. The Voodoo have used a 4 game winning streak to move past the City Limits, but the City Limits will get to host this series.
Importance: 5/5. The winner of this race gets into the playoffs. The loser can start planning for next season.
Who needs to do what: If the City Limits trail coming into this series, they will need to win 2 out of 3. If it's tied, they'll be in good shape even if they can win one. One win for Austin nets them the tiebreaker and New Orleans has to play Houston to close the season, while Austin can get wins off division doormat San Juan.
ST. LOUIS at MILWAUKEE (3 games)
What's at stake: The AL North crown. As in the above series, the loser is going to sit out the postseason.
Importance: 4.5/5. Only reason it's not 5/5 is because even if Milwaukee sweeps it may not be enough. Milwaukee's string of 6 straight division titles and 4 straight AL championships being in jeopardy does add a little extra to it.
Who needs to do what: Milwaukee needs at least 2 out of 3, likely a sweep. Either one of those would give Milwaukee the tiebreaker. If they trail, the Manic Maulers would need help from Syracuse to be able to catch St. Louis.
LOUISVILLE at NEW YORK (3 games)
What's at stake: The AL East crown. Loser is definitely out.
Importance: 1/5. It's likely not going to matter.
Who needs to do what: New York needs a sweep- nothing less will do. Even then it might not be enough. They're too far back to be able to catch Louisville taking 2 out of 3.
OKLAHOMA CITY at MONTERREY (3 games)
What's at stake: Likely only the 5 slot versus the 6 slot.
Importance: 2/5. The loser may be better off, as there doesn't seem to be much difference between St. Louis and Louisville this season, and the team in the 6 slot would avoid a 2nd round date with Seattle should they win.
Who needs what: Assuming they want the 5 seed, Monterrey would likely need 2 out of 3. Even so, one OKC win would give the Obese Supermodels the tiebreaker. 2 OKC wins would almost assure them the 5 slot.
ATLANTA at TRENTON
What's at stake: The NL East division crown. The loser will be in the playoffs as the 5 seed.
Importance: 2/5. These two teams are almost guaranteed to play each other in the first round no matter which way this goes. This is more likely a tune-up, although a division title is always nice.
Who needs what: Will clearly be dictated by the standings coming into the games, as it's the last series. You'd have to think that 2 out of 3 for Atlanta (which would give them the tiebreaker) should be enough by that point, but it remains to be seen.