A year ago, the St. Louis Cardinals were in the midst of their miraculous comeback to win the NL Wild Card. The Atlanta Braves seemingly had their playoff spot wrapped up, with their playoff odds being as high as 98% at one point. Little did we know, the Cardinals were going to reel off one of the greatest September comebacks in history, which was aided by the epic collapse of the Braves. In 2012, however, the shoe is on the other foot.
The Cardinals are 4-10 in their last 14 games, and a semi-comfortable lead for the second NL Wild Card over the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers has all but disappeared. Not only has their lead disappeared, but new candidates have emerged in the race. The Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies - two teams that were essentially clinically dead – have experienced a Festivus miracle to get back into the race.
Entering today, the Phillies and Brew Crew are only three games back of St. Louis in the standings. Considering both those teams traded away some of their key pieces at the deadline, this comes as a big surprise to everyone in the game. It’s amazing what a healthy Phillies team is capable of doing, just as it is for Milwaukee with a bullpen that is performing.
This is why the MLB season/playoff structure is the best in professional sports. By playing 162 games, the cream always rises to the crop, eliminating a majority of the flukes from the small sample sizes.
Needless to say, the NL Wild Card is going to be out of control over the next few weeks. I saw a tweet today that calculated the odds of a tie at like 80% and the chances of a three-way tie at around 5%.
Buckle up, it’s about to get bumpy.