Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. . This week we're going to tackle the NL wild-card race.
Which teams will wind up in the NL wild-card spots?
R.J. Anderson: I think it's fair to say the Phillies will take one of the three slots. That leaves five realistic teams competing for the other two. I'll go with the Cubs as the second wild-card team. They have the best run differential of the five, plus the easiest remaining schedule in all of the National League, according to FanGraphs' calculations. As for the third spot, gosh, it's hard to pick who has the edge. I'll go with the Diamondbacks because I think they're the best of the remaining bunch, but the Reds have a light slate to end the year and it wouldn't shock me if they find a way to overtake Arizona.
Dayn Perry: I'm not betting against the Phillies nabbing a berth, which leaves two up for grabs. I think the Cubs get one based on the fact that they're the best team of the bunch at an underlying level. For the last spot, I'll take the Reds, who end their regular season by playing eight straight against the Pirates, Guardians, and Cardinals.
Mike Axisa: Yeah, the Phillies are pretty much locked in at this point. The Diamondbacks have played very well lately and they have six straight coming up against a checked-out Yankees team and a bad White Sox team, though they finish their season with three games against the Astros, who could be fighting for their own postseason lives. The Reds have the softest schedule to close out the season and, with all due respect R.J., the Cubs have played below their run differential all year. I'm not sure season run differential matters much during this 10-day sprint to the finish. Chicago has the most talented team among these wild-card contenders, but I dunno, they've done a poor job rising to the occasion lately. I'll say the Phillies get the first wild-card spot and the D-Backs and Reds the other two.
Matt Snyder: Phillies are the easy and obvious top wild card. Next!
I'm eliminating the Giants right off the bat. They just aren't good enough and are three games back with two teams in between. It would take a very good team to thread that needle and the Giants aren't it.
That means we have two spots for the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds and Marlins. I'm immediately putting the Diamondbacks in. They are two games in and seem to have hit their stride again here with a five-game winning streak. They are just as liable to start losing again, but not a single team in this bunch is reliable.
One left. I'm inclined to put the Cubs in, but they've lost nine of 12 right now and the pitching staff is in tatters. Both the Marlins and Reds are totally untrustworthy as well. It's at this point I'll mention that the Padres have won seven in a row and are 4.5 games out. They surely can't close the season on a 16-game winning streak, so let's say they lose just one game the rest of the way. That would put them at 83-79. The Cubs would need to go 4-6, the Reds 4-4 and Marlins 4-5 the rest of the way to finish 83-79. Couldn't you see all of those teams stumbling and doing worse? I'm not predicting the Padres to win this thing, as they've been screwing everything up all year. I'm just saying it's actually possible in this group.
I'll officially go with the Cubs after the Phillies and Diamondbacks, though. I guess. There's no confidence in this group after the Phillies.