2023 MLB Postseason: What is the New Wild Card Format?

2023 MLB Postseason: What is the New Wild Card Format?

Major League Baseball (MLB) has been shaking things up in the past few years, and the 2023 season is no exception. Beginning this year, the MLB postseason has been expanded from 10 teams to 12, giving more teams a chance to make it all the way to the World Series. This post will go over the new MLB wild card format and how having a third wild card team from each league will impact America’s favorite pastime.

Keep reading to get ready for the best time of the year: October baseball.

Experience the 2023 MLB postseason like never before. DIRECTV carries the most local MLB games of any TV provider. Learn more about the CHOICE™ package and make the switch today.


A quick recap on the MLB regular season.

There are 30 teams spread across two leagues, the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). Within those two leagues, there are 15 teams split into three divisions with five teams each. Every season, the 30 teams play 162 games from the end of March to the end of October with the hope of having a record that takes them into the postseason.

Starting in 2023, each team in the MLB plays against all 29 other teams in the sport. In the past, more than one half of a team’s schedule would consist of games against its division opponents in its designated league (AL or NL).

This change has increased competition among teams and excitement for fans.


At the finish of all 162 games, one team from each division (AL East, South, West and NL East, South, West) is named the division winner. Division winners are automatically granted a spot in the MLB playoffs schedule, where they will be seeded and play against each other in hopes of making it to the World Series.

Up until 1995, this was the MLB playoff format. It was that year that the league decided to expand the postseason by implementing the Wild Card Series.


As mentioned above, the six division winners move on to the postseason. With the addition of the wild card, the playoff picture expanded to eight teams. The two teams with the best records that didn’t win a division title were added to the playoffs. This was done in part to make the postseason more exciting, but also to give more teams a chance at winning it all.

In 2012, the MLB decided to add another wild card team from each league to the playoff format, expanding the playoffs from eight to ten teams.

In this new format, the two wild card teams from each league would play against one another in a single-elimination wild card game. The two winning wild cards would go on to play to top seeded team in their respective leagues. The other two division winning teams then play against each other in series of their own.

The winners of the Division Series then go up against each other in the League Championship, with the higher seed having home field advantage. The league champions from the AL and the NL then face-off in the final series of the season: the World Series.


The two main changes around the MLB Wild Card format starting in the 2023 season are as follows:

  1. Three non-division winning teams from each league will now move on to the postseason (the three teams with the best win record)
  2. The Wild Card portion of the playoffs will now be a three-game series, rather than a single-elimination game


With the move to 12 teams in the postseason, the previous format no longer works. So, starting in 2023, the playoff format will now go like this:

The three division winners are seeded 1-3 according to record. The three wild card teams are seeded 4-6, also by record.

Keep in mind, the three wild card teams are not limited by divisions, so all three teams could potentially come from the same division.

The wild card teams seeded 4 and 5 play against each other in a three-game series, with the 4 seed having home field advantage for all three games.

The wild card team seeded 6 will play against the division winner in seed 3, with the 3 seed having home field advantage.

This major change means the 3 seed could be knocked out of the playoffs before the Division Series even begins if the 6 seed manages to win the Wild Card Series. It also means the 1 and 2 seeds get a bye in the first round of the postseason. 

Some fans are upset about the change because it eliminates the potential for a tie-breaking 163rd game, but it seems like the benefits outweigh that qualm.

Those in favor of this change believe this not only allows for more teams to get a chance to make it to the playoffs, but it also adds to the competition. Not to mention, it creates a big incentive to be a top seeded team in order to get a much-deserved break in between the end of the regular season and the Division Series.


The two winning teams from the wild card games will move on to the Division Series. The winner of the 4-5 seed game then goes up against the top division winner in their league (seed 1), while the winner of the 3-6 game plays the 2 seed team. The higher seed always gets home field advantage. The winners of these five-game series will move on to the next round of the MLB postseason.


In another seven-game series, the two remaining teams from each league compete against each other for the League Championship. The higher seeded team (there is no reseeding after the Wild Card Series) will host games 1, 2, 6 and 7, while the lower seed hosts games 4 and 5.

It’s only after this series do the two leagues, the AL and NL, finally face off with one another. The winners of each League Championship Series move on to the coveted seven-game series, the World Series.


Now that you’ve got the MLB playoffs format down, it’s time to take a look at the final playoff picture before the Wild Card Series begins on Tuesday, October 3, 2023.


The 2023 postseason playoff bracket is as follows:


1. Baltimore Orioles (AL East division winner)

2. Houston Astros (AL West division winner)

3. Minnesota Twins (AL Central division winner)

4. Tampa Bay Rays (AL East Wild Card #1)

5. Texas Rangers (AL Central Wild Card #2)

6. Toronto Blue Jays (AL Wild Card #3)


1. Atlanta Braves (NL East division winner)

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West division winner)

3. Milwaukee Brewers (NL Central division winner)

4. Philadelphia Phillies (NL Wild Card #1)

5. Miami Marlins (NL Wild Card #2)

6. Arizona Diamondbacks (NL Wild Card #3)

The first three teams on each of the lists are division winners and are seeded 1-3. The following three teams represent the wild card teams, seeded 3-6. That means the Orioles, Astros, Braves and Dodgers will get a bye in the Wild Card Series.


The game schedule for October baseball has been released, but fans are still waiting for the exact game times. Check out the up-to-date MLB playoffs schedule with game times and more.

The game schedule will proceed in this order:

Wild Card Series: October 3-5 | These three-game series will be available to watch live on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 through DIRECTV.

Division Series: October 7-14 | The Division Series will be available to watch through DIRECTV on Fox, FS1 or TBS

League Championship Series: October 15-24 | Championship Series games will be available to watch live through DIRECTV on Fox, FS1 or TBS.

World Series: October 27-November 4 | The World Series will begin on October 27. The final two teams will compete in a 7-game series to determine the next MLB championship team. The games will be available to watch on FOX. 

And if you don’t have DIRECTV yet, now is the time to switch! Get the top MLB coverage plus specialty sports networks like MLB Network and MLB Strike Zone. Learn more today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is different about the 2023 MLB playoff format?

Starting this year, 12 teams will make it to the MLB postseason instead of the typical 10.

What is the new wild card format?

Instead of two, single-round elimination games between the wild card teams, there will now be a Wild Card Series. Wild card teams seeded 4 and 5 play against each other in a 3-game series, and the 6 seed (third wild card) plays against the 3 seed (lowest ranking division winner).

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