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A look at the race for the National League’s second wild card

With the Cubs near a division clinching, here’s the one N.L. race that’s still close.

Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Cubs can clinch the N.L. Central Tuesday, if they win both Monday and Tuesday against the Cardinals in St. Louis. They pretty much took care of the Brewers over the weekend.

Both the Brewers and Cardinals, though, still have a shot at being in the National League wild-card game. The Diamondbacks clinched the first wild-card spot by winning Sunday, so they will host the second wild card in the N.L. wild-card game, which will take place Wednesday, October 4. Currently, the Rockies have a two-game lead over the Brewers and lead the Cardinals by 2½.

Here are the records and remaining schedules for the three teams. Home games in boldface.

Rockies, 84-72: 6 games (all home)

Marlins (3), Dodgers (3)

The Rockies got swept by the Marlins at Miami in August, but the Rockies are 43-32 at home and the Marlins are 33-45 on the road, so I’d expect the Rockies to do better against Miami at home. It could be an interesting series for Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has 57 home runs this year and is a .316/.413/.797 career hitter in Coors Field with 10 home runs in 20 games there.

The Dodgers likely won’t have much to play for in the final three games of the season except getting ready for their division series matchup.

Brewers, 82-74: 6 games (3 home, 3 road)

Reds (3), at Cardinals (3)

The Brewers are 9-7 against the Reds this year, and got swept by them in Cincinnati just three weeks ago. The Reds, though, are currently riding a six-game losing streak. The Brewers are also 9-7 against the Cardinals so far in 2017. It’s possible those three games might not mean anything by the time the Brewers get to St. Louis on Friday.

Cardinals, 81-74: 7 games (all home)

Cubs (4), Brewers (3)

The Cubs, as you know, have business to take care of: a division clinching, which they can accomplish by winning the first two games of the series. The Cubs are 11-4 against the Cardinals this season. The last time the Brewers visited St. Louis was in June, and Milwaukee swept that series.

The Rockies’ magic number over both the Brewers and Cardinals is five, so they could take care of this themselves by winning five of their six remaining games. While that’s possible, it certainly won’t be easy, but my thought is that the Rockies will hold off both teams and head to Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks. Complicating matters for the Brewers and Cardinals is that they play each other, and neither team is likely to sweep that series. So it’s looking to me like the Brewers and Cardinals will both wind up watching this year’s postseason on TV.

There’s one more thing I wanted to note about this year’s N.L. playoffs. For several weeks we have assumed the Cubs, as N.L. Central champions (once they clinch, of course), would be playing the N.L. East champion Nationals.

The Dodgers, with their poor record over the last four weeks (8-21 since August 26), have not yet clinched the N.L.’s best record. They lead the Nats by 4½ games and have six games remaining. The Nats have seven games left, and Washington holds the tiebreaker. So, the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the best record in the league is three. L.A. hosts the Padres for three games, then, as noted above, travels to Colorado for a three-game set to end the season. The Nats are heading to Philadelphia to play Phillies in a three-game series starting tonight, then host the Pirates for four games to end the season.

It’s likely the Dodgers win three of those six games and take the N.L.’s top seed. But it has not yet happened, and stranger things have.


Who will be the second wild card in the National League?

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