Ashley Landis/Associated Press
On Sunday, four National League teams came into the final day of play in the abbreviated MLB season looking to lock down the two remaining playoff spots.
With the St. Louis Cardinals defeating their division rival Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, they played their way into the postseason. The Cardinals secured the fifth seed in the NL playoffs, sending the Miami Marlins to No. 6.
Even though the Brewers didn’t secure their postseason berth with a win, they still earned the No. 8 seed thanks to the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies losing their games.
Considering both teams missed multiple games for players testing positive for Covid-19, fans are breathing a sigh of relief that they managed to hold on until the Wild Card Round.
Given the pandemic-shortened regular season, the MLB playoffs will look a bit different this year. Eight teams in each league have advanced to the postseason: the division winners, who hold the top three seeds, the second-place team in each division, and the two teams with the next-best records in the league, regardless of division.
The three teams to win their respective divisions were the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
The first round of play will be deemed the Wild Card round, featuring eight best-of-three series, with the higher seed hosting all games in this round. The higher seed will host every game.
Once the Wild Card round is set, things become more normal: a best-of-five divisional series, a best-of-seven championship series, and a best-of-seven World Series.
Let’s take a look at the seeding for each of the eight teams in the NL Wild Card round, as well as their odds and the schedule of play for the next three games.
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
MLB playoffs set 🔥
➖ Blue Jays (8) vs Rays (1)
➖ White Sox (7) vs Athletics (2)
➖ Astros (6) vs Twins (3)
➖ Yankees (5) vs Indians (4)
➖ Brewers (8) vs Dodgers (1)
➖ Reds (7) vs Braves (2)
➖ Marlins (6) vs Cubs (3)
➖ Cardinals (5) vs Padres (4) https://t.co/oIYpMRa5pb
NL Wild Card Round Matchups and Odds to Win League
No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers (13/10) vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Brewers (15/1)
No. 2 Atlanta Braves (11/2) vs. No. 7 Cincinnati Reds (15/1)
No. 3 Chicago Cubs (7/1) vs. No. 6 Miami Marlins (15/1)
No. 4 San Diego Padres (5/1) vs. No. 5 St. Louis Cardinals (14/1)
NL Wild Card Round Schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 30
Game 1: Brewers at Dodgers
Game 1: Reds at Braves
Game 1: Marlins at Cubs
Game 1: Cardinals at Padres
Thursday, Oct. 1
Game 2: Brewers at Dodgers
Game 2: Reds at Braves
Game 2: Marlins at Cubs
Game 2: Cardinals at Padres
Friday, Oct. 2
Game 3: Brewers at Dodgers
Game 3: Reds at Braves
Game 3: Marlins at Cubs
Game 3: Cardinals at Padres
Start times and TV schedule TBD
It’s been obvious since MLB embarked upon its 60-game slate that the Dodgers would in all likelihood lock down the No. 1 seed. Benefiting from ace pitching and an insanely productive offense, Los Angeles cruised to 43 wins in 60 games, the most of any team in either league this season.
The injury-plagued Brewers, along with the Houston Astros in the AL, become the first team to reach the postseason with a losing record (29-31), as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale pointed out:
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
The #Brewers and #Astros will be the first teams in #MLB history to reach the postseason with a losing record
It’s easy to root for the Brewers’ underdog heart, but there’s almost no chance they defeat the Dodgers in the Wild Card Round. Prediction: Dodgers.
The Reds will lean on their strong starting rotation when they begin their best-of-three series against the Braves Wednesday. But will it be enough? Atlanta’s offense is downright scary, entering Sunday leading MLB in runs scored, slugging percentage (.485) and on-base percentage (.350). With first baseman Freddie Freeman leading the MVP conversation in the National League, the Braves shouldn’t have much trouble here. Prediction: Braves.
The Marlins are another feel-good story this year, having clinched their first postseason berth in 17 years to face the Cubs at Wrigley Field. But losing starting pitcher Jose Urena, who suffered a fracture in his right forearm Sunday, for the rest of the postseason soured the good feelings. Even without fans in the seats in this exceedingly strange season, it’s hard to bet against the Cubs at home. Prediction: Cubs.
The Cardinals’ road to the postseason very well could have ended months ago when the team suffered a rash of COVID-19 infections, so it’s admirable they were able to plow through doubleheaders to make it here. However, it’s no secret St. Louis has struggled to generate offense this season, and ultimately, it’s hard to see the club outhitting Slam Diego. Prediction: Padres.
Odds via DraftKings and current as of Sept. 27
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