The MLB division races are wrapping up as the Los Angles Dodgers won the NL West for the seventh straight year. Most of the other races are almost over as the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and Atlanta Braves all have a nine, eight, and nine and a half-game lead respectively. The Minnesota Twins only have a four-game lead in the AL Central over the Cleveland Indians, while the St. Louis Cardinals have a three-game lead in the NL Central. While most of the division races are over, the Wild Card is going to go down to the wire.
Over in the NL, Washington who currently owns the first wild card spot, only has a one-game lead over the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers who are both tied for the second position. The Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, and Arizona Diamondbacks are all still having around. The Oakland Athletics are two games up on the Tampa Bay Rays as the first Wild Card team in the AL. The Cleveland Indians are half a game behind the Rays for the second spot. Now here is an in-depth look at the Wild Card races.
NL Wild Card
First Wild Card: Washington Nationals (83-68) 94% PO
Washington has been in the midst of a slump, but a pitching staff that has Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin will help right the ship. Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto have been anchoring the lineup, while they have been receiving plenty of contributions from players such as Howie Kendrick, Matt Adams and Gerado Parra. Unfortunately, the bullpen is suspect at best. Washington’s last three series are against the Miami Marlins, Phillies, and Indians. Despite the one-game lead, this is Washington’s spot to lose.
Second Wild Card: Milwaukee Brewers (82-70) 47.8% PO & Chicago Cubs (82-70) 58.3% PO
The Brewers lost reining MVP Christian Yelich for the season when he fractured his knee cap. Despite this, Milwaukee has found a way to rally and are a game behind Washington. They just got Brandon Woodruff back, who has been their best pitcher all season. The Brew Crew have a fairly easy remaining schedule as they face the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, and Colorado Rockies.
The Cubs lost Javier Baez, who won’t return until the playoffs. Anthony Rizzo is also out for five to seven games which has hampered the offense. Fortunately for the Cubs, You Darvish has started to bounce back after his horrendous 2018 season. The Cubs have seven games left against the St. Louis Cardinals which could decide the division winner and effect the Wild card race.
In the hunt: New York Mets (79-73) 3 games back. 6.5% PO
The Mets pitching staff is deep enough to put the team in good position to win every night. Now it is up to the offense to help out. Pete Alonzo is tied for the league lead with 48 homers and does not seem to be slowing down. The bullpen is a question mark, but Seth Lugo has stepped up while others have struggled. The Mets finish the season with series against the Reds, Marlins, and Braves. New York faces an uphill battle to catch the second spot.
Philadelphia Phillies (78-73) 3.5 games back. 0.1 PO
The Phillies offense was supposed to carry the team this year, but instead, they have been inconsistent. Andrew McCutchen’s injury has derailed the offense more than people expected. The pitching staff has been unable to help out Aaron Nola. Jake Arrieta is out for the season and the bullpen has suffered various injuries. Phillies remaining schedule doesn’t help them as they face the Indians, Nationals, and Marlins.
Arizona Diamondbacks (78-75) 4.5 games back. .01 PO
In the past two years, the Diamondbacks traded away the face of the franchise Paul Goldschmidt as well as ace Zack Greinke. The team also saw the departures of A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin. Despite all the overture, Arizona is still in the thick of the Wild card race. Ketel Marte is having an MVP caliber season and has helped keep his team in contention. Arizona’s upcoming schedule is reasonable as they have six games against the San Diego Padres and three against the Cardinals. While it seems unlikely the Diamondbacks make the playoffs, the future looks bright for this club.
AL Wild Card
First Wild Card: Oakland Athletics (92-61) 96.1% PO
Oakland overcame a rocky start to be on the verge of making the postseason for the second straight year. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson have picked up the slack as Kris Davis has struggled. Marcus Semien leads the team with a whopping 7.1 WAR. Oakland has an easy remaining schedule as they face the Rangers, Mariners, and Angels. Barring a collapse, they should make the playoffs.
Second Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays (90-63) 61% PO
Good news Ray fans, Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell are back. They rejoin Charlie Morton to help solidify the pitching staff. Both have been sidelined with injuries and can help the team reach the postseason for the first time since 2013. Unfortunately, the Rays have a formidable remaining schedule. They play the Boston Redsox, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays.
In the hunt: Cleveland Indians (89-63) .5 games back 43.2% PO
Cleveland has faced setbacks this season due to injuries. Jose Ramirez has been out since August 21, and Corey Kluber is still on the 60 day IL. Jason Kipnis, AJ Cole, and Tyler Naquin are all out for the season. Not to mention Brad Hand and Danny Salazar are both also on the IL. Despite all of this, the Tribe is only half a game out of the Wild Card spot and four games behind the Twins for the division title.
Playoff percentages from ESPN.
PO*- Playoff Odds
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