14 September 2012
The first four playoff spots in the National League appear to be settled, with the Nationals (89-54), Reds (87-57), Giants (81-62), and Braves (81-63) all in great shape. The Diamondbacks are 4.5 Games Behind the Cardinals for the second NL wild card slot, with 19 games left to play. Adding to that challenge are that there are four other teams between the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals. So do the D-Backs still have a chance? Surprisingly, yes, although the Diamondbacks need to play very well down the stretch and they will need some help from teams like the Cubs, Astros, and Rockies.
Looking at the remaining schedule, the wild card contenders have very few games against each other. In fact, with six teams battling for one spot, there are only two series remaining in which two Wild Card contenders will go head-to-head: the Cardinals-Dodgers series this weekend, and the Pirates-Brewers series next week. The rest of the time, these teams will either be facing one of the four locked-in playoff teams, or one of the 6 teams that are essentially eliminated. So there will be a lot of scoreboard watching over the final three weeks. Let's take a look at the remaining schedules for the contenders for the second Wild Card spot.
|Team||Record||Opponents Remaining||Games with WC2 Contenders|
|Cardinals||76-68||LAD(3), HOU(6), CHC (3), WAS (3), CIN (3)||3|
|Dodgers||74-70||STL(3), WAS (3), CIN (3), SDP (3),COL (3),SFG (3)||3|
|Pirates||72-70||CHC(4), MIL(3), HOU(3), NYM(4), CIN(3), ATL(3)||3|
|Phillies||72-72||HOU(3), NYM(3), ATL(3), WAS(6), MIA(3)||0|
|Brewers||72-71||NYM(3), PIT(3), WAS(3), CIN(3), HOU(3), SDP(3)||3|
|D-Backs||71-72||SFG(6), SDP(3), COL(7), CHC(3)||0|
The Diamondbacks have a pretty nice schedule for the rest of the season. They have six games with the Giants, who are basically locked into the NL West lead and the #3 seed in the NL. But the schedule also includes 7 games with the Rockies and 3 each with the Cubs and the Padres. To have a chance, the Diamondbacks probably have to go at least 13-6 the rest of the way, and more likely 14-5 or 15-4. It's a long shot, but there is still a chance. For example, here is an optimistic scenario of how the remaining schedule could go for the six teams, resulting in a Diamondbacks-Cardinals tie at 85-77. The same possibility basically applies to all six of the contenders - a stretch of .700 ball over the final three weeks could propel any of the six teams to the second Wild Card spot.