The National League Wild Card race is going to come down to the last week of the season. The Miami Marlins, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants have all been eliminated, and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds are just waiting to be wiped out of the playoff picture. There are approximately 20 games remaining for each team left in the playoff hunt and here is how it will all play out, but first some background.
National League Wild Card Race Heating Up
The Los Angeles Dodgers currently hold an 18 game lead in the NL West and will win the West for a seventh straight year in the next couple of days. They are competing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and into the World Series. With only five games against teams above .500, the Dodgers only worry is how to set-up their pitching for the Divisional Series.
The Atlanta Braves hold a seven-game lead over the Washington Nationals, and they are 12.5 games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies. They will play the next 14 games against both teams. The Braves could easily wipe out both sides from the playoffs on their way to clinching the division.
The St. Louis Cardinals hold a slim lead 2.5 game lead over the Chicago Cubs and are a full seven games clear of the Milwaukee Brewers. They will play 17 of their final 23 contests against teams competing for a National League playoff spot. It will be tough for the Cardinals to keep the momentum going as they face teams playing hard down the stretch.
The Nationals currently hold the first Wild Card spot — three games ahead of the Cubs. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, but their bullpen will need to pull it together to keep them in the top spot. Their schedule is very tough, with two series against the Braves. They only have the series against the Marlins as the only three games against a team below .500. In fact, other than the Marlins, the rest of their games are against playoff-caliber teams.
The Cubs are hanging in there, just 2.5 games ahead of the Phillies. The Cubs will play NL Central opponents for the rest of the season, except for a series against the Padres. They will play the Cardinals seven times, the Pirates six times, and will start a four-game set against the Brewers this weekend.
The Phillies are on the outside looking in, but they are close. However, Philadelphia will have a tough time making up any games, as they play seven against the Braves and five against the Nationals, but will finish with three against the Marlins.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are just 3.5 games back, and they are on a solid run right now. Sometimes it’s not about how well you played all season, but how well you are playing come playoff time. They have the most favorable schedule of all the contenders, with only two series against teams over .500. The series against the Cardinals will determine whether or not the D-backs make the playoffs in 2019.
The Brewers have struggled lately, and it is going to cost them a shot at the playoffs. A real disappointment after making it to the Championship Series last year. The Brew Crew have a very interesting schedule the rest of the way, and it could help them stay in the picture, for a little while anyway.
The New York Mets have been a roller coaster of a ride this season, but their struggles will keep them out of the playoffs again this year. More than likely their bullpen will be the main reason that keeps them out. They will likely play themselves out of the picture by next week after having to play the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers.
Predicting the Final Outcome
The Dodgers will clinch the West in less than a week. The Braves will win the East without much trouble because the Nationals cannot close out a game and the Phillies will help eliminate any other contender. And that leaves the NL Central. The Brewers, Cubs, and Cardinals will all beat up on each other with help from the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the Cubs come out on top after a 10-game homestand. The Cardinals will hang on to the second Wild Card spot, and the Diamondbacks will play their way into hosting another Wild Card game. Then the playoffs start, and who knows what will happen.
Embed from Getty Images