There’s only been one constant in the NL Wild Card chase this season and that’s the Atlanta Braves. Even though the Bravos are sliding with three straight defeats, they still are in complete control of one of the two Wild Card spots. However, I can’t say the same for anyone else in the NL.
St. Louis has been in the driver’s seat of the all-important second spot at times, but like Atlanta, the Cardinals have stumbled, also dropping their last three. They only lead third place LA by one game.
You would think LA would’ve taken advantage by now. Not so fast. The boys in blue have lost their last three contests as well and are only a game and a half up on fourth place Pittsburgh.
So the Pirates are making a move with all of these teams in front of them dropping all these games, right? WRONG. The Pirates are just 2-8 in their last ten and have lost six in a row.
Does anyone in the NL actually WANT this second Wild Card spot?
Enter the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies.
The Brews and Phils were as good as dead about a month ago, but as you can see, the tide is turning in the NL Wild Card race. Now these two squads are only three games back of St. Louie for that second spot and they are charging fast with three weeks left in the regular season.
Not everyone can be losing games in the NL. The Phillies have rattled off seven wins in a row and have won 15 of their last 19 and are over .500 for the first time since June 3. Things are looking good for the Phils now. With 19 games remaining, they are very much alive in the chase and things might only get better, as their next seven games are against two of the NL’s worst, the Houston Astros and the New York Mets.
Philadelphia will send young Tyler Cloyd (1-1, 4.24 ERA) to the bump today to face Lucas Harrell (10-9, 3.83 ERA) of the Stros. Houston might have the advantage in the pitching matchup, but I wouldn’t go against the Phils right now. Take the Phillies to cover -1.5. Philly should be favored by -1.5 in the runline in each of those remaining games versus Houston and New York, so look to back one of baseball’s hottest teams before you miss out.
Meanwhile, the Brewers are just as hot. The Brews have won their last three and seven of their last ten. After last night’s 8-2 win over Atlanta, Milwaukee is also over .500. The last time they had a winning record was April 12, when they were 4-3.
Now, like Philadelphia, Milwaukee has a fighting chance, only being three games out. However, the Brews won’t have an easy of a time in the coming weeks. After a three-gamer with the Mets this weekend, Milwaukee will take on the Pirates, the Nationals and the Reds. If they are going to make the postseason, they are going to have to keep doing what they’ve been doing; winning tough games.
Whatever ends up happening, these two teams have sure made an uninteresting race interesting again. I still have to favor St. Louis to take the second spot, but if these teams keep winning, maybe I’ll have to change my tune and jump on the bandwagon.