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NL Wild Card update: Can anyone catch the Braves for first spot?

Atlanta has a decent lead heading into the third week of August. Can anyone overtake the defending champs? We take a look at the updated NL WC standings.

Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves slides as he scores during the eleventh inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 9, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The revamped playoff format in the MLB has created plenty of drama even with over a month left in the regular season. Both the AL and NL Wild Card races are tight and we should see at least a few teams having to play for their postseason lives the first week of October. The Atlanta Braves may not have a shot at catching the New York Mets in the NL East standings, but the defending champs should seal up the top WC spot. Let’s take a look at the updated NL WC standings.

NL Wild Card standings, August 14

1st WC spot: Atlanta Braves, 69-46 — +5.5
2nd WC spot: Philadelphia Phillies, 63-50 — +0.5
3rd WC spot: San Diego Padres, 64-52 —

Milwaukee Brewers, 61-51 — 1.0 GB
San Francisco Giants, 54-57 — 6.5 GB

The Braves haven’t built up an insurmountable lead in the NL WC, but it’s enough to give them a cushion so long as they avoid a long losing streak. The Braves had lost five of the past six games before beating the Red Sox on Tuesday night in extras. That sort of emotional win can go a long way in start a new streak. ATL has a crucial four-game series against the Mets coming up next week that could decide the division. If the Braves can sweep, there’s a chance of stealing the NL East. If Atlanta gets beat, the Mets could start running away again.

As for the rest of the NL, the Phillies should get Bryce Harper back soon, which will be a massive boost to the lineup. The reigning NL MVP may not return to the field, but will certainly be able to bat soon. He’s already hitting off a tee and should be back on the field before the end of the regular season.

The Padres have struggled since acquiring Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury. San Diego ended a five-game losing streak with a win over the Giants on Tuesday night. The Pads have a very easy stretch of games against the Marlins and Nationals coming up, a chance to get back into the contention for the top WC spot.