With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the NL Wild Card race is down to three teams jockeying for the final two Wild Card spots after the streaking Chicago Cubs caught the slumping Washington Nationals, and the Yelich-less Milwaukee Brewers hang tough on the playoff bubble.
The NL Wild Card race has been intense since the All-Star Break. At one point, almost a dozen National League teams had a shot at a postseason berth. In the last quarter of the season, that group shaved itself down to a six-pack of teams.
With 12 games remaining, it’s now a three-team sprint among the Cubbies, Nats, and Brewers.
NL WILD CARD STANDINGS:
Washington Nationals (82-67)
Chicago Cubs (82-68)
Milwaukee Brewers (81-69)
According to William Hill, the LA Dodgers are the highest National League team on the board to win the World Series at 5/2 odds. The Washington Nationals are 15/1 odds to win the championship. The Cubs are 21/1 odds to win the World Series. Without Christian Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers tumbled to 40/1 odds to win the title.
Bakers Dozen for the Nats
The Nats are 5-9 in their last 14 games, but face a difficult stretch of games facing four consecutive division leaders. They have two more games at St. Louis before the get a breather in Miami.
The Nationals have the advantage of an extra game, with 13 games remaining on their schedule.
The Nats finish the season with eight home games, including a double-header against the Phillies. The final series of the season is an interleague, three-game set against the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland is currently on the AL Wild Card bubble, which means the Nats would like to secure themselves a playoff position before the final series of the season.
Milwaukee Holding the Line
The red-hot Brewers won 10 out of their last 11 games. They also went 5-1 against their division foes during their recent stretch.
The Brewers actually have a losing record (37-38) on the road. That could be problematic, because they finish the season on the road against the Cincinnati Reds (70-81) and Colorado Rockies (66-85).
The Cubbies are back on track after a big slide in which they went 1-6, including two losses on the road against the Padres. The Cubs boast the better home record (51-24) in the NL Wild Card race. However, they also end the season with six road games. The Cubs and Cardinals square off in the final series of the season, which could have both Wild Card and NL Central divisional implications.
Tight, Tight, Tight NL Central
The NL Central looked like a bloodbath from Opening Day. The Brewers, Cardinals, and Cubs have been beating the crap out of each other all season. Even the Reds and Pirates have been brawling in meaningless games this season. There’s no shortage of bad blood among the most-competitive division in baseball.
El Mago and the Cubs looked like early World Series favorites until the Cards caught them late in the summer. The Brewers were up and down all season, with Christian Yelich having another MVP-like season. Everyone expected the Brew Crew would fold when they lost Yelich for the season with a fractured kneecap. Yet, the Brewers keep fighting to stay alive in the NL Wild Card race.
FANGRAPHS PLAYOFF ODDS:
If the Brewers run the table in over their last dozen games, they could, theoretically, secure the AL Central title. However, FanGraphs does not have any faith in the Brewers. The math suggests they are less than a 40% chance to win the second Wild Card spot. The Brewers are also listed as a 6% chance to pull off a division title.