There was a good several-weeks-long stretch back in September when it seemed like none of the three primary Wild Card competitors – the Cardinals, Mets, and Giants – was especially interested in running away with the thing.
But, in the last week, they’ve all really picked up the pace.
Last night, all three teams won their games by at least four runs, and the race remains tight: the Mets are in the first Wild Card position by a full game, and can clinch a playoff spot by winning one of their last two games, or if the Cardinals lose one of their last two.
The Giants are in the second Wild Card spot by a game over the Cardinals, and now have a magic number of two.
In my view, your rooting interests should be the Mets clinching today with a win (because then they can preserve Noah Syndergaard for the Wild Card Game on Wednesday, and he could make just one start in the NLDS), and the Cardinals winning both of their games this weekend.
Then, you root for the Giants to win just once this weekend, and those two teams wind up in a tie, forcing an extra game on Monday, which has the potential to use up another top starter, who might then make only one start in the NLDS (but could still possibly make two, depending on how the outings go).
Interestingly, the Giants elected to pitch Madison Bumgarner last night so that he could be lined up to start the Wild Card Game. The good news there is that now, pretty much no matter what else happens, he will not be starting twice in the NLDS.
Johnny Cueto is still a possibility for a tiebreaker game on Monday (which would allow him to start Games 2 and 5 of the NLDS on normal rest). HOWEVER Cueto would have to pitch in that tiebreaker game on just three days’ rest, which would not be ideal. Matt Moore is scheduled to pitch on Sunday, so it’s pretty clear that the Giants are hoping they don’t have to play a tiebreaker.
Today, the Mets will send Bartolo Colon out against the Phillies and Phil Klein (who is apparently not a real estate agent).
The Giants will send Ty Blach out against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw.
The Cardinals will send Michael Wacha out against the Pirates and Chad Kuhl.
Meanwhile, in the American League, there are still four teams within a game of the Wild Card, which is just deliciously wonderful. The Orioles are on top by a game, with the Blue Jays in the second position. The Tigers are a half-game behind the Blue Jays, and the Mariners are a half-game behind the Tigers. You’d better be rooting for a four-way tie (here are the tiebreaker rules), because why not? EMBRACE CHAOS.