2021 MLB NL Wild Card Race Update

2021 NL Wild Card race

Even though one of the two available slots for the National League Wild Card game is basically locked in by one of two possible juggernauts from the NL West, there’s still a tight battle going on for the final spot of the one-and-done playoff showdown. Exactly how does the NL Wild Card picture appear after Wednesday’s slate of crucial games for all involved?

Let’s take a closer look at the National League Wild Card race and what it means for the teams still involved in the hunt for a playoff berth. And for even more baseball coverage and all the latest news across the sporting world, head on over to Nitrogen Sports Blog after this.

2021 MLB Season: NL Wild Card Race Update 

Los Angeles Dodgers 

Record as of September 14: 93-53
Game(s) Behind a Wild Card spot: +17.5

Make no mistake: Los Angeles will make the playoffs. Whether as a wild card entry or as a division champion is another matter, as the team is still embroiled in a tight race with the San Francisco Giants for the NL West pennant.

The Dodgers continue to keep pace with the Giants at 2.5 games behind the division leaders, winning their fifth-straight game Tuesday night. They’ll have a chance to sweep the D-Backs this Thursday after going 3-0 against the Padres this past weekend, and will have a relatively easy schedule with rematches against all their NL West rivals not named San Fran before closing out the season against the Brewers. Every game certainly counts for Dodger Blue, as the Giants have been on a nine-game tear themselves.

St. Louis Cardinals

Record as of September 14: 75-69
Game(s) Behind a Wild Card spot:

Tuesday’s 7-6, 11-inning win over the Mets is a monumental moment for the Cardinals, who are back in a postseason spot for the first time since May 30 this season. They got a little help from a fellow NL Central rival to reach this position (more on that team below), and Mike Shildt’s crew have won four straight and six of their last seven games.

The road to the playoffs will be tough for the Cards, as they’ll face the Brewers two more times as well as a three-game set against the Padres beginning this Friday. Thankfully, the teams that are currently behind St. Louis in the race are also struggling to gain ground and have equally imposing schedules to close out the season.

Cincinnati Reds

Record as of September 14: 75-70
Game(s) Behind a Wild Card spot: 0.5

Whereas the Cards won by a single run on Tuesday, the Reds suffered the opposite fate that afternoon, narrowly losing to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-5. The Reds have now lost three consecutive games, are 4-8 for the month, and have not won back-to-back contests since August 27 to 28.

Cincinnati has eight more games against Pittsburgh in the days ahead, which means there’s enough time to right the ship and hopefully pick up easy wins against the Buccos and forget Tuesday’s series-opening defeat altogether. Cincy best be wary about their non-Pirates opponents ahead, though, as they’re slated to take on the mighty Dodgers this weekend along with a two-game set against the White Sox at the end of September.


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San Diego Padres

Record as of September 14: 74-70
Game(s) Behind a Wild Card spot: 1.0

Hard to believe that the Padres are still just one game out of the final wild card slot given how poorly they’ve fared lately. They’re now on a five-game skid, with all losses coming against their feared division rivals in the Dodgers and the Giants.

Out of all the wild card hopefuls featured here, San Diego has the most brutal remaining schedule, hands down. The team’s last 19 games to date will all be against either current division leaders (Giants, Braves) or the two teams atop the NL Wild Card leaderboard (Dodgers, Cards). Nine of those 19 games are against San Francisco, and the Padres’ 9-1 blowout loss on Tuesday further obscures their chances of making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the mid-2000s.

Philadelphia Phillies

Record as of September 14: 72-72
Game(s) Behind a Wild Card spot: 3.0

Two teams from the NL East made the cut of potential NL Wild Card entrants, with both sides still having one foot in the pennant race and the other foot in the wild card hunt. Philadelphia is one of those teams, and Joe Girardi and Co. have the luxury of having the easiest remaining schedule amongst all wild card contenders. 

Five of the Phillies’ last six series of the season are against teams with losing records, with a three-game set in Atlanta being the only exception. One of those teams with a losing record is NL East rival New York and the do will engage in a pivotal clash this Friday. The month-ending series against the Braves will also be crucial, as Philly is just 4.5 games behind the NL East’s top dogs for the division crown.

New York Mets

Record as of September 14: 72-74
Game(s) Behind a Wild Card spot: 4.0

The Mets’ hopes of making the postseason continue to slip further and further away, as their current two-game losing streak to St. Louis had huge ramifications in the wild card picture as we speak.

Not only does New York need to get back above the .500 mark to stand a chance at clinching the final NL Wild Card spot, but the team will face a bevy of elite opposition to end their campaign. Save for a slight three-game breather against the Marlins, the Mets will face the Red Sox, Brewers, Braves, and the aforementioned Phillies. They need to salvage a win against the Cards this Wednesday night just to not have themselves dead to rights in the race.

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