The race (though that doesn't seem to be the right word to use) for the final National League wild card playoff spot is not producing inspiring baseball from any of the three top teams in the hunt. The St. Louis Cardinals currently hold the spot and are being chased by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
All three teams have been playing as if they'd rather not go to the postseason this year. Heading into September the Cardinals had a half-game lead over the Pirates and a game and a half lead over the Dodgers. In September the three teams have combined for a record of 10-22.
The Pirates have taken the biggest dive. It's been well-documented that the Pittsburgh has not had a winning season since 1992. This seemed to be the year the Bucs would end that streak of futility. At the end of July the Pirates were 15 games over .500. But since then they have won 13 and lost 26 and now sit just two games above the break-even mark.
The Dodgers got out of the gates well this season, and at the end of May they led the NL West by five games. But they couldn't hold the lead, and now L.A. trails the Giants by seven games. The Dodgers are 4-6 in September and have lost three straight.
The Cardinals reached a mark of 14 games over .500 on August 27. But since then the Cards are a woeful 4-11. They were just swept by the San Diego Padres. The Cardinals start a big four-game series in Los Angeles today.
The two teams that are coming on strong are the Milwaukee Brewers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Both teams seemingly threw in the towel on the season when they traded some big name players. But the Phillies are an MLB-best 9-2 since the start of September and the Brewers have been nearly as good at 9-3.
Both teams trail the Cardinals by three games for the final NL playoff spot. The Phils play four games this weekend against the worst team on the National League, the Houston Astros. The Brewers, meanwhile, having just swept a series from the Atlanta Braves, will host the New York Mets for three games starting Friday.A native of St. Louis, Brad Boeker has rooted for the Cardinals for over 40 years.
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