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Breaking Down The NL Wild Card Race

Breaking Down The NL Wild Card Race

The National League Wild Card race has been intense and exciting for the entirety of the second half of the season. As of September 14, the Cincinnati Reds hold onto the second wild-card spot. The Los Angeles Dodgers have firm control over the top wild-card spot. There are four teams trailing the Reds that are within four games of that second spot. There are four teams chasing the Reds with a legitimate shot at that last wild card spot.

These teams are the San Diego Padres, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the New York Mets.

Mets

The Mets are fighting an uphill battle. They currently sit 3.5 games back from the second wild-card spot and they would need multiple teams to falter to take claim on that spot. They also have a few tough matchups left to play, with two games against the Cardinals, three games against the Phillies, two games against the Red Sox, three games against the Brewers and three games against the Braves. With a tough road ahead, the Mets would need the stars to align perfectly for them to sneak into the playoffs.

Phillies

The Phillies have one of the most favorable schedules remaining in the entire MLB. With 19 games remaining, only six games are against an opponent that is in playoff contention. The only team they play that has a record above .500 is the Atlanta Braves.

As the Phillies continue their push, led by MVP candidate Bryce Harper, they are a serious threat to taking the second wild-card spot. In a year of uncertainties, the Phillies could be the dark horse choice to end the season in the second wild-card spot.

Cardinals

The Cardinals are only 0.5 games away from being in the playoffs. But, their schedule is far from favorable. With two series(seven games) remaining against the first-place Brewers and a three-game series against the hungry Padres, their schedule is not a cakewalk. The Cardinals have made up incredible ground during the second half of the season. They will need to get hot during this last 20 game stretch if they want to take and keep the second wild-card spot.

Padres

Many experts see the Padres as the best team in this race. The Padres have been plagued with injuries and have fought through a tough schedule thus far. The schedule does not ease up over the last few weeks of games either. To finish the season, the Padres will play the Giants nine times, the Cardinals three times, the Braves three times and the Dodgers three times. All 18 games will be played against playoff-contending teams with 12 of them being on the road.

The road for a Padres’ playoff birth is a tough and grueling one. But, with a roster as talented as they have, never count out the Padres.

Reds

The Reds control their own destiny. They have struggled mightily as of late though. The Reds currently have 18 games remaining. Exactly half of those come against the Pirates, a team the Reds have fared well against this season. Four of the remaining games come against the 59-85 Washington Nationals, who entered rebuild mode at the mid-season mark. The last five games come against the Los Angeles Dodgers(three games) and the Chicago White Sox(two games).

With star outfielder Jesse Winker starting his rehab assignment on September 14, the Reds look to become near full strength as the season winds down. With a 0.5 game lead in the race and a favorable schedule, the Reds hold the key to their future.

 

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