MLBTR’s Connor Byrne asked this same question in a poll just over a month ago, and it was the Nationals (30%) and Mets (22%) who collected the most votes from a field of nine (eight teams and an “other” option). As we look at the standings today, the Mets have fallen four games back of the Cubs for the second wild card slot, while Washington continues to sit in pretty good shape, with a three-game lead over Chicago for the first wild card spot and the subsequent home-field advantage in the one-game playoff.
With only three weeks of regular-season baseball remaining, let’s alter that original field to seven clubs. This omits the “other,” and also removes the Giants (7.5 games back) and Reds (10 games back) from contention. However, we’re also going to add the Cubs into the mix, as they were leading the NL Central at the time of the original poll and thus weren’t included. The Cardinals have since roared out to a 4.5-game lead over Chicago in the division race, but we’re keeping St. Louis within the field if some voters feel the Cubs can re-claim the NL Central lead — the two rivals still have seven head-to-head games remaining, after all.
The Brewers also could still technically be in the NL Central mix, since they have three games left against the Cardinals but sit 6.5 behind the Redbirds in the standings. It’s much more likely that Milwaukee’s path to the postseason will go through the wild card game, as the Brewers have gone 7-3 over their last 10 games to move two games behind Chicago. This also ties Milwaukee with the Phillies, as the two teams have identical 74-68 records.
While the Brew Crew have been hot, however, it hasn’t matched the Diamondbacks’ roll of 11-2 over their last 13 games. Arizona is closest on the Cubs’ heels, just 1.5 games out of that second and final position.
It makes for a very exciting September finish, and we can’t omit the possibility of some type of multi-team tie that would require a play-in game just to reach the wild card game. Which two teams do you think will end up holding all the cards once the dust settles? (Poll link for app users)