It is possible that four of the five National League playoff spots are already spoken for. The Chicago Cubs have an 11.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals each have 5.5 game leads in the West and East, respectively. Both teams look to be built to withstand the long 162-game grind that the Major League Baseball season presents. Washington and San Francisco appear to have enough starting pitching and offensive firepower, which could allow them both to avoid rough patches during the remainder of the season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who currently hold the first Wild Card spot, look to be a factor come October. The Dodgers are led by their solid pitching and their decent offense. Any team that has Clayton Kershaw on it is a dangerous one. The L.A. front office is always willing to do whatever it takes at the trading deadline to win. It would be foolish to assume that 2016 would be any different.
This scenario, if it were to play out, would mean that the Cardinals, Pirates, Mets, and Marlins appear to be the teams most likely to contend for the final Wild Card slot.. St. Louis and Pittsburgh had the misfortune of being in the same division as the Chicago Cubs, which means 19 matchups against a team playing almost .700 baseball through 68 games. So far this season, Pittsburgh and St. Louis are a combined 4-12 against the MLB’s best team. The Mets look to have the same problem as last year prior to acquiring Yoenis Cespedes, enough pitching but not enough hitting. Miami’s unfamiliarity with playing high pressure games later in the season could be their downfall.
The race for the second Wild Card spot could be the only drama in an anticlimactic National League stretch run.