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NL Wild Card update: Can the Padres, Phillies hold off the Brewers?

We break down the NL Wild Card race heading into the final month of the 2022 MLB regular season.

San Francisco Giants v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One
Christian Yelich #22 of the Milwaukee Brewers at bat against the San Francisco Giant during game one of a doubleheader at American Family Field on September 08, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With about 20 games remaining for each team in the MLB regular season, the National League Wild Card race has come down to three teams vying for two spots. Meanwhile, the Braves and Mets are trying to stay out of the Wild Card fray, focusing on a division title instead. Here’s where we stand entering Saturday’s action.

NL Wild Card standings, Sept. 11

1st WC spot: Atlanta Braves (87-53)
2nd WC spot: San Diego Padres (78-62)
3rd WC spot: Philadelphia Phillies (77-64)

The Milwaukee Brewers are 73-66, putting 3.5 games behind the Phillies and four back of the Padres. The Brew Crew had a chance to gain ground Friday but experienced a disappointing home loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers have dropped their past three games against Cincinnati — all at home — and still have six more games against the team that has been out of playoff contention since April, basically. That half dozen could very well decide this race.

The Phillies have been up and down all year long, but their remaining schedule does them some favors as they have six games remaining against the cellar-dwelling Nationals. Philadelphia is 11-2 this year against the Nats. On the other end of the spectrum, Philadelphia has seven games remaining versus the Braves and five games split between a couple of American League contenders: the Astros and Blue Jays.

After a drama-filled month of August, the Padres have righted their ship somewhat as winners in nine of their past 13 games. That includes a critical, extra-inning triumph over the Dodgers on Friday. That was just their fourth win through their past 23 games against the L.A. dating back to late August 2021. If San Diego is going to make the playoffs, they will have to earn it as their schedule features six more games against the Dodgers, three each versus the Cardinals and White Sox, and two meetings with the Mariners. Juan Soto needs to snap out of his slump; he is just 2-for-32 over his previous ten games.

And at the top of the Wild Card standings lie the Mets, who have lost four of their past six games — all against teams under .500 — to fall out of first place for the first time since the start of play on April 12. They enter Saturday a half-game behind the Braves (87-51), who have won eight in a row. The NL East champion will be the No. 2 seed in the NL playoffs, meaning they would avoid the Dodgers until the NLCS. However, whoever finishes second in the East would be lined up on Los Angeles’ side of the bracket for the NLDS. So, winning the division is extremely important for each squad. It may come down to three games between these rivals in Atlanta from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.