The American League Championship Series, otherwise known as the ALCS for short, will kick off on Sunday night, October 15.
One team has already punched its ticket to the series. The Texas Rangers knocked out the Baltimore Orioles last night, sweeping the ALDS in three games. Their next opponent has yet to be determined, but it will either be the Minnesota Twins or the defending World Series champion Houston Astros.
The Wild Card Series and Division Series have different formats than that of the League Championship Series. The format for each series is the same for each league.
For those who are unsure about the way things work in the ALCS, and the NLCS for that matter, we invite you to stick with us as we provide a brief synopsis of the series and go through all possible scenarios.
How many games are in the ALCS?
If you're wondering how many games the Championship Series typically are, it can vary. To revisit the subject of the formats, the Championship Series is a best-of-seven format as opposed to best-of-three or best-of-five.
What does ALCS stand for?
ALCS stands for American League Championship Series. It is a best-of-7 format.
Best-of-five works in a "2-2-1" format, meaning the there are two games at the higher seed's home field, an off-day, two more games at the lower seed's home field, an off-day, then Game 5 back at the higher seed's home. Best of seven works similarly, except after the first two games, the series shifts the home of the lower seed for three games. After an off day, the series returns to the higher seed's home for the final two games. In short, it is referred to as a "2-3-2" format.
What this means is that the highest number of games that could be played is seven. The first team to win four games is the winner of the series. That can occur in a different number of games each time.
Last year, the Astros swept the New York Yankees in four games in the ALCS. This is always a possible, yet unlikely scenario.
For the series to go seven games, each team has to have won three games. Obviously, Game 7 is then a do-or-die game, ensuring that the winner advances and the loser goes home.
The series could also be a five or six-game series. For example, if the Rangers hold a 3-0 lead over their opponent but lose Game 4, then their opponent will have forced a Game 5, and so on if they keep winning. At least five games are necessary once each team has won at least one game.
For the series to be six games, it takes a little bit longer. Each team has to have won at least two games. If the Rangers and their opponent are tied at two games apiece after Game 4, then Game 6 will be necessary. But if the Rangers trail the series 3-1 heading into Game 5 and win, then the series would reach a sixth game.
Game 7 only becomes official if the team trailing the series wins Game 6.
Hopefully, this piece clears up any confusion fans may have about the format or the number of games that will be played.