MLB Set for 12-Team Postseason as Part of CBA Compromise
The 2022 MLB postseason will be the first with a 12-team playoff, as the collective bargaining compromise between the players and ownership reached on Thursday will see an increase in teams in the postseason from the 10 that perviously participated.
The extra team will be a wild card, making three of those in each league, and each wild-card series will now be three-games instead of the one-game playoff under the old format. The top seed will continue to host the entire wild card round.
The top two division winners in each league will get a bye into the divisional round, with the third division winner facing the third wild card team, and the first and second wild card teams facing each other.
Other changes include the end of extra-game tiebreakers, with an NFL-style formula implemented instead.
The expansion of the playoff field was a part of the agenda for both sides during the CBA negotiations, but how far to take things was up for debate. Ownership was looking for a 14-team playoff field before settling with the 12 teams as proposed by the players.
The increase in postseason revenue is expected to be a boon for both sides, though the players are not guaranteed any specific portion of that money. The hope is that the expansion of the playoff field will provide more encouragement for teams on the bubble of competition to spend more money to try to reach the postseason.
For the Pirates, the expanded playoff field would have made a big difference in the recent past, as the team would have been able to play a three-game series as a wild card club in 2013, 2014 and 2015, with all of those games at home. Instead, the team two those three one-game affairs. Moving to a three-game series will likely help prevent what happened to the Pirates in 2014 and 2015, when one great performance from a hot starting pitcher helped a lower-seeded team come away with an upset.