Baseball

The Last NL Wild Card Contenders

NL Wild Card
Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers laughs with Evan Longoria #10 of the San Francisco Giants. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

October is nearing and baseball fans are bursting with anticipation to discover who earns the final NL wild card position. The San Fransisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers just recently secured their spot in the playoffs. Since these two only stand a game apart in the NL West it is still up in the air who will win the division and who will host the wild card game. The Dodgers stand at 94-53 while the San Fransisco Giants hold the lead with a record of 95-52. With only one more ticket to the playoffs, the race for the last wild card game spot is getting intense. Realistically, only five out of the eleven NL teams remain highly eligible to play against either the Dodgers or Giants in October.

St. Louis Cardinals, .524 PCT

NL Wild Card
St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Leading the race currently are the Cardinals with a 76-69 standing. Historically when the Cardinals are within reach of the playoffs towards the end of the year, they give it everything they have. Last night was a terrific example of putting in 110% until the very end of the game.

Lars Nootbaar seemingly delivered the final blow to the New York Mets and secured a full sweep at Citi Field on Wednesday. He made one of the biggest catches of the Cardinals season as he robbed Pete Alonso of a three-run homer robbery sealing the cardinals 8-7 victory.

Right now the Cardinals fill the second wild card spot, next to the Dodgers, with a 0.5 game lead on the Padres. They’re on a 5-game win streak and don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Anyone who follows the Cardinals knows that they’re favored to battle in the wild card spot. They will host the Padres this weekend in a huge three game series.

San Diego Padres, .521 PCT

Fernadno Tatis Jr.
Gregory Bull – AP Photo

Before the All-Star break, the San Diego Padres were on track to potentially clinch a playoff spot. Since then, things haven’t been going their way. After starting the second half with a record of 53-40 they have dropped mightily to 76-70.

The Padres’ pitchers have been alternating turns on the injured list. The only consistent pitching has been from Joe Musgrove with a current ERA of 2.99. Now that Blake Snell is on the IL with a hurt groin, the Padres are going to have to play with minimal errors in order to stay in the running.

San Diego’s golden hitter Fernando Tatis Jr. has been lacking as well compared to how he was hitting earlier this year. Additionally, Jake Cronenworth is out temporarily due an injury after putting up a fantastic year for hitting. However, a new leaf may be turning.

The Padres just beat the Giants Wednesday and Thursday to end their losing streak as well as halt the Giants winning streak. With so many teams around them doing well, they’re going to need a lot more than two wins to secure the wild card game spot. If they can pull together another win streak with their current healthy roster, they’ll be playing in the wild card game without a doubt. One thing is certain, they won’t go down without a fight and will definitely bring some entertainment against the Dodgers and Giants later this month.

Cincinatti Reds, .517 PCT

NL Wild Card
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 27: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Minnesota Twins on September 27, 2020 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

As of today the Cincinnati Reds are right behind the Padres by 0.5, only 1 game behind the Cardinals. Like the Padres and the Cardinals, the Reds roster is littered with injuries that hurts their prospects of scoring runs. The Reds currently stand at 76-71.

Thursday’s game wasn’t the most flashy with a final score of 1-0 against the Pirates but it was exactly what they needed. The Reds have had one of the best offenses in the Majors but have had some difficulty staying consistent with that as of late. It sure doesn’t help that Jesse Winker has been out but he should be back in the game within the next week.

The next series they play is against the Dodgers which will be a tough one to come out on top of. After that they go back to facing the Pirates at the Great American Ball Park for another series. If they stay consistent and utilize their heavy hitting offense, the wild card spot could be theirs to win.

Philadelphia Phillies, .507 PCT

NL Wild Card
Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper on, Aug. 7, 2021 DERIK HAMILTON / AP PHOTO

The Philadelphia Phillies have a steeper hill to climb than the other three teams we’ve discussed thus far. As of today they stand at 74-72. The rest of the season for them in terms of competition, however, is the most desirable.

With potential MVP Bryce Harper swinging for the stars, the Phillies are giving it everything they have. Everybody showed up to play Thursday against the Chicago Cubs as they went from down 7-0 to winning with a shocking score of 17-8. We saw Herrera, McCutchen, Segura, and others join Harper in racking up a surplus of runs. The Phillies haven’t taken a commanding lead in the league this season but they know very well what victory tastes like. They need to keep acting like they’re at the batting cages against their opponents.

Coming off of a high from a fantastic game of baseball, they need to hold on against the Mets, Orioles, and Pirates. According to FanGraphs, the Phillies actually have an 18.2 percent chance of making playoffs. After looking at the rest of their schedule, it may even be higher. The toughest series is going to be their final one against the Atlanta Braves. If they can win some games and build a cushion before then, we’ll definitely see them in the NL wild card game.

New York Mets, .490 PCT

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 29, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) is congratulated by third baseman J.D. Davis (28) after hitting a two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

At the bottom of the list of NL wild card candidates are the New York Mets, standing at 72-75. Like other teams on this list, the Mets had a wonderful first half of the season but have struggled to come together on the back half.

The Mets’ spirits were low after Nootbaar stole Pete Alonso’s home run on Wednesday. After being fully swept by the Cardinals this week, they have a ton of ground to cover and tough teams to overcome. With players like Jacob deGrom remaining on the 60-day IL, no more games can afford to be lost.

They still have series’ to play against the Phillies, Brewers, and Red Sox. The Brewers are leading the NL central division and the Red Sox are AL wild card contenders. It looks bleak but they can still pull it off, we’ll just have to see what the next week looks like for the Mets.

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  1. Pingback: St. Louis Cardinals Streak Into Home Stretch - Championship Sports Media

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