MLB standings, playoff picture update: Dodgers-Rockies series could shape up NL West, wild card races

The 2018 MLB regular season ends Sunday, Sept. 30, which means the postseason is now roughly two weeks away. However, there are still plenty of postseason races that have to be decided between now and then.

With that in mind, here's an update on the current National League postseason picture. Here's the SportsLine Projection System, and here's what the NL postseason field would look like if the season ended today (Click here for the American League playoff picture):

mlb-playoff-bracket-2018.jpg
Mike Meredith/CBS Sports

Make sure to check out SportsLine's daily pick sheet for insight about every game.

NL East leader: Braves (83-66)

  • Games remaining: 13 (7 Home, 6 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .508
  • SportsLine's NL pennant odds: 12.8 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 4.1 percent

The Braves hold a 6 1/2-game lead over the Phillies in the NL East, so they're heavy favorites to win the division for the first time since 2013. The seeding in the NL is something else to watch. The Braves right now are four games back of the Cubs for top seed and just one game clear of the Rockies for second seed. 

NL Central leader: Cubs (87-62)

  • Games remaining: 13 (7 Home, 6 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .485
  • SportsLine's NL pennant odds: 23.6 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 9.5 percent

The Cubs lead the Brewers by 2 1/2 games in the NL Central, and they won't face them again in the regular season. The Brewers do have a slightly easier remaining schedule, but it's not a huge difference. Right now, SportsLine gives the Cubs a hefty 94.5 percent chance of winning the division, and the goal in Chicago will be to wrap it up early enough to allow rest and rotation-sorting over the final handful of regular season games. The week starts with a potential challenge for the Cubs. They'll visit the Diamondbacks for three games while the Brewers host the Reds. If the Cubs can avoid losing any ground over the next three days, then they'll be in excellent shape insofar as the division title is concerned.

NL West leader: Rockies (82-67)

  • Games remaining: 13 (7 Home, 6 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .544
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 43.9 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 2.1 percent

The Rox at this writing hold a slim half-game lead over the Dodgers. However, SportsLine heavily favors the Dodgers to overtake Colorado (right now, the Dodgers have better than an 80 percent chance to win the division for a sixth straight year). That's partly because the Rockies have a tough remaining schedule, but it's mostly because the Dodgers look like the better team at a fundamental level (L.A. has an NL-best run differential of plus-146, while the Rockies check in at plus-1). The NL West title could hinge on the outcome of the three-game series between the Rockies and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium that starts Monday night. The Dodgers enter that critical set just a half-game off the pace in the NL West, and the odds will swing wildly based on the results. SportsLine has the Dodgers as heavy favorites in all three of their upcoming games against the Rockies, but if Colorado manages to take two of three then the Dodgers' chances of winning the division go from 80 percent to 52 percent. High stakes, indeed.  

NL wild card leader: Brewers (85-65)

  • Games remaining: 12 (6 Home, 6 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage: .465
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 98.6 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 2.2 percent

The Brewers still have designs on the NL Central title, but as noted above the odds are against them. As for their current wild-card position, they're in good shape. The Brewers are three games ahead of the Cardinals and Dodgers, who are tied for the second wild-card spot, and as you can see SportsLine gives Milwaukee an excellent chance of making the playoffs. The remaining schedule is also quite accommodating. In particular, they'll end the regular season with three home games against Detroit. 

NL wild card runner-up: Cardinals, Dodgers (82-68)

  • Games remaining for Cardinals: 12 (6 Home, 6 Away)
  • Games remaining for Dodgers: 12 (6 Home, 6 Away)
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage for Cardinals: .508
  • Remaining opponents' winning percentage for Dodgers: .486
  • SportsLine's playoff odds for Cardinals: 64.8 percent
  • SportsLine's playoff odds for Dodgers: 87.9 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds for Cardinals: 3.1 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds for Dodgers: 24.3 percent

After the Cardinals avoided a four-game home sweep by topping the Dodgers in series finale on Sunday, we have a tie for the second and final playoff spot. SportsLine, though, remains very bullish on the Dodgers for reasons laid out above. The system still sees them as heavy favorites in the NL West, and their surprisingly lofty World Series percentage flows from that. If expectations hold, then the battle for the second wild-card spot could be between the Cardinals and Rockies. 

Teams on the outside looking in

  • Diamondbacks (3.2 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
  • Phillies (2.7 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
  • Nationals (<1.0 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
  • Pirates (<1.0 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
  • Giants (0 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
  • Mets (0 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)

If you're looking for a longshot, then maybe the Nationals? They're six games out of playoff position, but nine of their final 12 games come against the Mets and Marlins. It's highly, highly unlikely they'll crash the party, but it's within the range of possibilities. In terms of games out, the Diamondbacks are just four games back of the Cardinals and Dodgers, but they're about to play nine straight games against the Cubs, Dodgers, and Rockies. The Giants and Mets are just waiting to be mathematically eliminated. 

Teams eliminated

  • Reds: 64-86
  • Padres: 60-90
  • Marlins: 58-91

SportsLine tabs the Marlins for 63 wins, so perhaps Don Mattingly's team can avoid a 100-loss campaign. Right now, the Marlins are in line for the third overall pick in the 2019 draft. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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