Tha Sports Junkies 101

NL Wild Card Situation

NL Wild Card Tony L2008 via


NL Wild Card

The playoff race is starting to heat up so here’s a look at the NL wild card race

With around 50 games remaining for each team in the 2016 season, the NL wild card could not be a closer race. Since the expansion to two wild cards, many teams have taken advantage of that extra playoff spot. The expansion which took place in 2012, was aimed to get more teams into the playoffs that would otherwise not make it. That idea has worked so far but this season many playoff regulars are scrambling to secure a playoff berth.

The NL wild card race now shapes up like this. The Los Angeles Dodgers hold a 3 game lead for the first wild card over the Miami Marlins. The Marlins, who have surprised many this season, currently hold the second wild card by one game over the St. Louis Cardinals. Behind the Cardinals are the New York Mets (2GB of 2nd wild card), and the Pittsburgh Pirates (3GB of 2nd wild card).

Let’s start with the Dodgers. They are now one game back of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. The Giants have struggled since the All-Star and are now in danger of losing the lead in the division. Out of the 5 teams in the hunt for the second wild card, the Dodgers have the best overall shot at a playoff berth. Whether that berth comes in the form of a wild card win or a division title; fans will have to wait and find out.

The Dodgers are not without their problems however. They have been plagued with injuries the entire season. Most notably the injury to Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw. He has missed time with a back injury and is expected to be out until at least September. The Dodgers filled one hole in their rotation with the addition of Rich Hill at the trade deadline. Hill is now on the DL with a blister on his throwing hand but is expected to make a start on Friday.

Even with all their injuries, the Dodgers still have a respectable run differential at +59. Their offense has picked up the beat up pitching staff and carried it through the season.

The Marlins, who have been in a fierce battle with the Cardinals over the 2nd wild card, are looking to solidify their playoff position. They are sitting 7 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East and have shown no signs of catching them. Their only hope is to win the 2nd NL wild card if they hope to return to the playoffs.

The Cardinals are in a similar situation as they trail the Chicago Cubs by 11.5 games in the NL Central. Their +71 run differential is good but sloppy play and inconsistent pitching has been a big problem this season. Even if the Cardinals did make the playoffs, they lack the starting depth to defeat a good team like the Cubs or Nationals in a 5 or 7 game series.

The Mets are 2 games back for the 2nd wild card and 9 games back in the NL East behind the Nationals. Pitching has carried the Mets to where they are now. Their offense has been bad with runners in scoring position this season. The only bright spot for the Mets offense has been Yoenis Cespedes. He is hitting .289 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI’s. In order to add depth to their lineup, the Mets added Jay Bruce at the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see what kind of help, if any, Bruce can make to the Mets lineup this season.

The Pirates are in an even worse position than the Cardinals. They are 13.5 games back of the Cubs in the NL Central and 3 games out of the 2nd wild card. Many Pirates fans where shocked to see star closer Mark Melancon dealt to the Nationals at the trade deadline. This move signaled to many that the Pirates where waving the white flag. It became even more clear that the Pirates were going to be sellers when they traded Francisco Liriano to the Blue Jays. Whatever the true intentions of the Pirates are, they need either a good run here quickly or a miracle to make the playoffs.

One more team that is in the hunt for the NL wild card is the Colorado Rockies. They sit 4 games back of the 2nd wild card and 8 games back of the NL West lead. The thin air in Colorado has hurt their pitching staff at home but helped their offense. The Rockies are one of the hottest teams so far after the All-Star break but have cooled off a little going 6-4 in their last 10. A season-ending injury to Trevor Story hurts the Rockies chances at the playoffs but they certainly have enough talent to carry them with the likes of: Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jon Gray.

My Prediction:

When the playoffs finally roll around, I predict that the Los Angeles Dodgers will either win the NL West or the 1st wild card. If they end up winning the division, I have the Giants winning the 2nd wild card and the Marlins winning the first. That would set up a great pitching duel at Marlins Park in October for a one game play-in. If the Dodgers win the 1st wild card I think the Marlins would also win the 2nd wild card.

Teams To Watch In The Last 50 Games:

St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, and New York Mets.