Typically, the playoff situation is complex in late September. But this year, there is less to focus on with plenty of teams clinching playoff positions as of Sept. 24. That being said, the NL wild card spot will be the hotly contested playoff seat, with three strong teams all fighting for one spot.
Officially, the Cub s have not yet clinched the playoffs, but they hold a 4.5 game lead over the second place Brewers in the NL central. Besides that, four of the other five division winners have already been decided with the Nationals, Indians and Astros leading by massive margins. The Dodgers just recently sealed their spot, and the Yankees and Red Sox will be battling it out for the AL East. But at the end of the day, the divisional battles this year are just not what they usually are in this 2017 season.
The wild card race in the National League is exactly what baseball fans expect.
As of Sept. 24, the Diamondbacks have basically taken the top wild card spot. That leaves the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals left fighting for the final position. The Rockies have a one game lead over the Brewers and a 1.5 game lead over the Cards.
Zero of those three teams has made a convincing that they are surging towards playoff territory.
The Rockies have lost seven of their last ten allowing for the other squads to close in on them. St. Louis has taken advantage, winning four of their last five, but that came after being swept by the Cubs.
The Brewers have been merely average as of late, going 6-4 in their last ten games.
Essentially, with one week to go in the season, it really comes down to have these teams perform down the stretch.
The Cardinals and Brewers could have a chance to have their playoff hopes in their own hands. They play each other in the final series of the year next weekend. The Brewers lead the season series 9-7. Before that series, Milwaukee has the luxury of playing the Reds (66-89) for a three-game set; whereas the Cards are stuck with four mid-week games against the powerful Cubs (86-68).
The Brewers-Cardinals series takes place in St. Louis, where the Cardinals have gone 42-32 on the season.
But the Rockies have the best chance to keep their playoff hopes in their own hands. Colorado still holds the lead, and if they take of business it won’t matter what the former two teams do. The Rockies finish the season out with two home series against the Marlins and Dodgers. The Dodgers, having already finalized their playoff position, may not use all their starters, which works in favor of the Rockies obviously.
There are other aspects to keep an eye on, such as the AL East race and the fight for the top record in each league (Thus clinching home field advantage in the playoffs). The Indians lead the Astros by 1.5 games for the top spot in the American League. In the NL, the Dodgers haven’t yet sealed the deal with the Nationals hanging around, but they likely will later this week.
Although this playoff push is unlike other seasons, this NL wild card race will be one to keep an eye on. If there is a tie for the final spot, there is a play-in game to the wild card game. If there is not a tie, the NL wild card game will take place on Oct. 4.
No matter what happens, it’s clear that this is the race that is coming down to the wire.