It seems like the Baltimore Orioles have been tantalizingly close to wrapping up their first division title since 2014 for weeks now. After salvaging a series split with the Guardians over the weekend, the Orioles finally have a clear path to clinching this week despite the fact that the Rays have been keeping pace with them for most of the month of September.
Could things go sideways over the last week of the season? Absolutely, but with a two game series against the lowly Nationals and then four games against a Red Sox team that has been underwhelming this season and with nothing to play for, the odds are favorable that Baltimore closes this thing out sooner rather than later.
Baltimore Orioles Magic Number and Playoff Odds - 9/26
As of today, the Baltimore Orioles magic number to win the American League East over the Rays sits at 3. It certainly helps the Orioles' cause that they own the tiebreaker with the Rays as they won the season series 8-5. The AL East has pulled ahead of the other divisions in the American League by a wide enough margin in September that it is a given that whichever team wins the division will also be the top overall seed in the AL.
One mini race to keep an eye on is the race for home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the Braves. However, that race is going to be a tough hill to climb for Baltimore as they are three games back of Atlanta with six games left for both teams. It isn't an insurmountable margin, but Baltimore is going to have to play their brains out and still get some help from the Braves to have a shot.
As for their odds to win the division, the Orioles are in great shape. Fangraphs currently gives Baltimore a 97% chance of winning the division while Baseball-Reference has their odds of winning the division at 98.5%. Not exactly surprising that they are overwhelmingly favored with a 2.5 game lead with a week to go, but hopefully seeing those numbers written down will help the more anxious Orioles fans out there.