Ranking every final-weekend series 1-15

September 25th, 2020

This last weekend is going to be, is designed to be, both incredibly exciting and nail-bitingly stressful. Five playoff spots are very much up for grabs, seeding is a scramble and all sorts of personal and team records are on the line. And that's not even accounting for the fact that, for nearly half of baseball, this will be the last time we see any of these teams play until February. This is it, folks. This is the end of the season.

So, today, as we enter the final weekend of the regular season, we provide a bit of a viewer's guide. There are 15 series this weekend, all culminating in all 15 games beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. Here is a ranking of those 15 series, based on relevance, excitement and, above all else, watchability.

1. Padres at Giants. Are these the two most surprising teams in baseball this year? The Padres could end up with their best winning percentage in franchise history, and the Giants, a team that looked like it was about to start rebuilding, has a legitimate chance to reach the playoffs, something no one on the planet saw coming. It's great to have both these teams so relevant -- and playing a huge series at that gorgeous ballpark.

2. Reds at Twins. The Reds have made a massive charge late this year and are working themselves into legitimately World Series sleeper contention at this point. Or … this could fall apart on them, and they could miss the playoffs entirely. The Twins can win themselves the American League Central and, perhaps most important, do everything possible to avoid the Yankees in the Wild Card Series.

3. Phillies at Rays. The Phillies are trying to grab their first postseason spot since 2011 -- which basically feels like 100 years ago at this point -- but they're playing the worst possible team, one that's trying to nail down the No. 1 seed in the American League and one that has the look of a World Series winner. And the Phils won't have their crazy Phandemic Crew to back them at this one either.

4. Cardinals at Brewers. These two teams are right in the middle of the National League scrum, and this series gets a boost not only because of that, but because it's between two division rivals who feel like they've been fighting it out for playoff spots for a decade now. The only knock on this series is that it might not, in fact, be the last Cardinals series of the year; depending on how this turns out, the Cards may be heading to Detroit for a doubleheader on Monday. (Those games will only be made up if it affects home-field advantage or a team being in or out. If it just affects the final four seeds, it will be settled by win percentage.)

5. Cubs at White Sox. It's not exactly the 1906 World Series, but this is as high-profile a matchup between these teams as we've seen in many a moon. And it is wild that there is still a possibility that they'd face each other in the World Series again … in Texas.

6. Marlins at Yankees. The Marlins are trying to grab their first playoff spot since … well, since they beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series, actually. The Yanks have weathered that scary bit where it looked like they could miss the playoffs entirely, and now that the team is closer to being healthy, the expectation is that they should start looking like the championship team everyone expected them to be. How wild would it be if the Yankees eliminated Derek Jeter's team on the final weekend?

7. Mariners at A's. The Mariners fell just short of ending their historic playoff drought, but there's still hope for the team moving forward. The A's are fighting for the No. 2 playoff seed, but it still feels different without Matt Chapman involved.

8. Angels at Dodgers. The Dodgers are the best team in baseball, and they'll just be looking to get their rotation and lineup in place for a potentially very scary first round of the playoffs. It's a shame the Halos basically need a miracle to get Mike Trout his first postseason victory, but he's very used to "maybe next year" by now.

9. Pirates at Indians. The Pirates are obviously just desperate to get this season over with, but the Indians' red-hot finish has them eyeing the White Sox for second place. They are playing the precise right team to finish off strong.

10. Astros at Rangers. This Astros team doesn't look much like the one from the World Series last year, but get them in the playoffs, they'll have as much a shot as just about anyone. Make sure to get plenty of scouting of the ballpark here: You're about to see plenty of that place for the NLCS and World Series.

11. Orioles at Blue Jays. The Orioles are wrapping up what has turned out to be a pleasant little step forward for them this year, and the Blue Jays are in the postseason for the first time since 2016. But the real fun is that these (probably?) are going to be the final Jays games played in Buffalo, N.Y. All told, I think they've been rather terrific temporary hosts, no?

12. Red Sox at Braves. The Braves are trying to hang onto that No. 2 spot in the NL, and the Red Sox, well, the Red Sox are going to be extremely relieved when this is over. For what it's worth, it might make this season feel a little better if they don't end up in last place. They've got a chance this weekend to crawl themselves out of the cellar.

13. Rockies at D-backs. There was a time when it would be worth watching this series just to see Nolan Arenado; now it's worth watching just to see Trevor Story. The Rockies fell off after a hot start, and the D-backs just never got going at all.

14. Mets at Nationals. Oh, for the days that it felt like the entire NL East would come down to these two teams. Instead, this is a fight to stay out of last place in the division for two of the more disappointing teams in baseball this year.

15. Tigers at Royals. A couple of young teams who showed some real spark in the AL Central this week, even if it's not happening for them this year. The main problem here is that it's very likely the Tigers have two more games left, on Monday against the Cardinals.