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Deciphering The NL Wild Card Race

Barring a disaster, Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers are heading for the postseason.

Barring a disaster, Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers are heading for the postseason.

With yesterday’s trade deadline marking the start of the final run in, Betting Sports decided it was time to take a look at the wild card picture in the National League.

There’s still two months of baseball to be played which means there will be plenty of opportunities for storylines to break and surprises to emerge, but right now there’s a distinctive feel to the league and how it will play out before October.

Below you’ll find a summary of all 15 National League clubs and how we expect their season will come to a close. Let’s start with those clubs already planning ahead.

Troy Tulowitzki and the Rockies will once more miss the postseason.

Troy Tulowitzki and the Rockies will once more miss the postseason.

Out of the Race

Colorado Rockies (44-64)

The Rockies started well but a mountainous downward slide sees the team 20 games below .500. The club will be hard pushed not to finish rock bottom.

Chicago Cubs (45-62)

Only the most weathered of fans at Wrigley would ever have rated the Cubs this season. Not finishing bottom would be remarkable.

Arizona Diamondbacks (48-61)

All that talk of being disrespected by the Dodgers’ poolside antics last year didn’t stop this from being a disastrous season.

Philadelphia Phillies (48-61)

Another rough season in the City of Brotherly Love sees the Phillies floundering with no prospect of improvement.

San Diego Padres (48-60)

While baseball is big in California right now, the Padres are static while their in-state rivals thrive.

Somehow, David Wright and the Mets aren't out of it just yet.

Somehow, David Wright and the Mets aren’t out of it just yet.

Not Done Just Yet

New York Mets (52-56)

It seems unfathomable that the Mets are still in the race as the calendar flips over to August, yet New York’s other side is just 5 1/2 games removed from a wild card berth. That’s reason to celebrate enough. Ultimately, the Mets won’t see the postseason this year though thanks to a plethora of talented sides above them.

Miami Marlins (53-55)

Like the Mets, the Marlins have enjoyed a successful season after the highs and lows of the past two years. 4 1/2 games out of the wild card berths means the team still has an outside shot, but realistically it would take a miracle or atomic meltdown within the league to see the side in the postseason.

Bryce Harper and the Nationals are one of eight NL teams that have a legitimate shot at the postseason.

Bryce Harper’s Nationals are one of eight NL teams that have a legitimate shot at the postseason.

Likely Contenders

Cincinnati Reds (54-54)

The NL Central has turned into the AL East of recent years, a division with so much parity it really is anyone’s guess who will take the division title. The Reds are one of the sides bidding for the title, or a wild card berth at least, and likely will be until the end of the year.

Pittsburgh Pirates (57-51)

The Pirates want to successfully repeat last year’s postseason appearance. Winning within the division will be the best way of doing exactly that.

St. Louis Cardinals (57-50)

The Cardinals haven’t fared as well as in recent years but would you bet against them walking away with another division title? Betting Sports certainly wouldn’t. In fact, we like them to earn an automatic postseason berth.

Milwaukee Brewers (60-49)

The Brewers have stayed the course over the last four months but the next two months will bring some choppy waters. Can the Brewers maintain their slim advantage or will the chasing pack catch up? We’re thinking the latter.

Atlanta Braves (58-51)

With their injury woes, the Braves should have been done and dusted a month ago, but this is a team that wills itself to victory. The Braves will be in the race for the division title until the bitter end, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the team win out over a Washington side that has yet to prove it can finish strong.

Washington Nationals (58-48)

If the Nationals are unable to fend off the Braves in the East, they’ll need to rely on the NL Central beating itself up enough that those sides finish with a poorer record than the Nats. Fortunately, this is a scenario that looks like it could very well play out. Of course, Washington still has a very good chance of winning the division.

San Francisco Giants (58-50)

The Giants have just six head-to-head games against the Dodgers left, which makes winning the NL West a little trickier. By no means are the Giants out of the running though. They’ve shown signs of being able to win in streaks, which would be useful going forward. If they are unable to secure the division, they, like the Nationals and Braves, will have to hope the NL Central does a number on itself.

Los Angeles Dodgers (62-47)

The Dodgers are in pole position to finish with the National League’s best record, but you can’t help but sense there’s a sting in the tail. Can the club fend off San Francisco or will it suffer a meltdown over the next two months? Ultimately, barring an injury to Clayton Kershaw or some tabloid-ready story line emerging, the Dodgers should earn an automatic berth.

Betting Sports Prediction

If push came to shove and Betting Sports was forced to lay money down on the final NL standings, here’s how we see things playing out:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West champions)

2. Atlanta Braves (NL East champions)

3. St. Louis Cardinals (NL Central champions)

4. San Francisco Giants (1st wild card)

5. Washington Nationals (2nd wild card)

It’s worth pointing out that the NL is a tougher read right now than the AL, and how the Central plays out will have a huge impact on the final standings. Right now it looks like the Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates and Reds will beat up on each other to a degree that it makes earning a wild card berth tough.

20140731_NL_Wild_Card Read our take on the American League wild card picture


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