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NL Wild Card update: Does anyone here actually want to make the playoffs?

Seemingly everyone in the running for a Wild Card spot in the NL is struggling to get out of their own way at the moment. We break down where things stand as the regular season approaches its final month.

Miguel Amaya of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after a home run in the eighth inning off Jordan Lyles of the Kansas City Royals at Wrigley Field on August 20, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

With the dust fully settled from the 2023 trade deadline, we’re getting a sense of the new landscape around the league as the we hit the sprint to the regular-season finish. Preseason expectations are out the window; gone are the days where teams and fans can preach patience over a long season. It’s now or never, and the Wild Card races in both leagues are looking like they’ll go right down to the wire once again. The third Wild Card spot, first implemented last season, will give us six teams in the postseason on each side and byes for the top two seeds in each league. That means the regular-season stakes have never been higher, or involved more teams — and that added drama is palpable as we near the month of September.

So: Where does your favorite team stand? Below we’ll go over the NL Wild Card picture with up-to-the-minute standings and analysis.

NL Wild Card standings, August 21

1st Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies — 67-56, +3.5
2nd Wild Card: San Francisco Giants — 64-59, +0.5
3rd Wild Card: Chicago Cubs — 63-59, —

Cincinnati Reds — 64-60, —
Arizona Diamondbacks — 64-61, 0.5 GB
Miami Marlins — 64-61, 0.5 GB
San Diego Padres — 59-66, 5.5 GB

Things are rough out there right now: Among the seven teams listed above, only Arizona has been better than .500 over its last 10 games, and the D-backs are still just 15-27 since the start of July. While the NL Wild Card race may not have the sort of title-contender quality that we see in the AL, though, it more than makes up for it in pure intrigue: Five teams — the Giants, Cubs, Reds, D-backs and Marlins — are separated by exactly two games in the loss column as they fight it out for the final two playoff spots.

There doesn’t figure to be a ton of upward movement here in the season’s final weeks, as the Braves and Dodgers have the NL East and NL West, respectively, on lockdown, and the Brewers remain three games up on the Cubs in the NL Central. The Phillies would seem to be more or less above the fray, 3.5 games clear of the pack, but the rest of these standings will be a knockdown, drag-out fight to the finish in September.

The Giants have been particularly poor of late, losers of three in a row and eight of their last 10 as they meet the Phillies for a crucial three-game set starting on Monday night. Chicago feels like the most complete team, or at least the team with the fewest glaring flaws, although the back-end of their rotation remains awfully sketchy — especially with Marcus Stroman out with an injury. The Cubs also have by far the easiest remaining schedule of any of these teams, with a remaining opponent winning percentage of just .474 and series against the Tigers, Pirates (twice) and Rockies (twice) still left to play. Philly, by contrast has the single hardest remaining schedule in the Majors with a .526 opponent winning percentage, while the Marlins (.507) and Giants (.501) also have their work cut out for them.