Here we sit roughly 5 weeks away from the inaugural MLB Wild Card Play-In game for the National League. I am going to take away the 3 divisional leading teams from consideration (I know, especially given last year that ANYTHING could and probably will happen, but in the world of prognostication, we will disallow the leaders from discussion).
There are, really, four teams that are vying to play in that game on the NL side of the playoff ledger – Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves. Which two of these teams will be facing each other on that eventful night?
Atlanta Braves – It appears that the Braves have no shot at catching the Washington Nationals. The Nats are just too good this year and won’t faulter down the stretch. But in the MLB Wild Card race, I believe that the Braves have a great shot at reaching the game. They have the hitting and the pitching (although losing Ben Sheets is a blow) to stay in the race. With their history in the last 20 years (last year notwithstanding), I just don’t think you can count them out.
Pittsburgh Pirates – They are faultering. The way they have played during the last two weeks indicate that a slide is imminent. This isn’t last year’s Pirates, but they do appear to be a year or so away from really being in contention. Plus, having three teams from the Central hust seems unlkely.
St. Louis Cardinals – Who isn’t scared of playing them down the stretch? I don’t think they can catch the Cincinnati Reds for the divisional title, but they certainly have the pieces in place to make the MLB Wild Card. Their pitching is seasoned and solid. Their hitting is not what it was last year, but their run differential is the best in the league. Don’t forget what they have done in recent playoffs.
Los Angeles Dodgers – They have certainly been in the news lately and are the hot, trendy pick to take an MLB Wild Card spot; however, I think the additions, which will make them a much better team, will pay off next year and not so much this year. To disrupt the chemistry, and I’m a big believer in chemistry, this late in the season will be hard to overcome.
So, my MLB Wild Card predictions for the NL comes down to the Braves and the Cardinals squaring off October 5th in what will be a very exciting play-in game. As a Reds fan, I fear that the winner of that game will be the Cardinals.