MLB wild-card standings, NL playoff picture update: Hot Dodgers have largest NL West lead of season

The 2018 MLB regular season ends Sunday, Sept. 30, meaning the postseason is now less than two weeks away. There are still plenty of postseason races that have to be decided between now and then.

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

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Here is what the MLB postseason field would look like if the season ended today. Mike Meredith/CBS Sports

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

NL East leader: Braves (85-68)

  • Games remaining: 9 (3 home, 6 away)
  • Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .496
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 96.1 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 3.1 percent

Atlanta's young club overtook first place in the NL East from the Phillies on Aug. 13 and they haven't looked back since. The Braves hold a comfortable 6 1/2-game lead with nine to play, and they will have a chance to finish off the Phillies as they have three remaining games in a four-game series to complete this weekend. Their magic number is down to four and they could be celebrating their first division title since 2013 very soon.

NL Central leader: Cubs (89-63)

  • Games remaining: 10 (7 home, 3 away)
  • Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .465
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 100.0 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 9.3 percent

Chicago's lead over the Brewers in the NL Central is currently at 2 1/2 games. The Cubs' magic number for both the NL Central title and the best record in the NL is eight. The Cubs will play their final 10 games of the season in Chicago (seven home games and a three-game series against the White Sox). 

NL West leader: Dodgers (85-68)

  • Games remaining: 9 (3 home, 6 away)
  • Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .467
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 96.5 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 28.3 percent

The Dodgers have been playing their best baseball as of late, going 12-6 in the month of September. After sweeping the Rockies, they opened up their NL West lead to 2 1/2 games, their largest lead of the season.

NL wild card leader: Brewers (87-66)

  • Games remaining: 9 (3 home, 6 away)
  • Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .462
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 98.9 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 2.2 percent

The Brewers are three games up on a wild-card spot and they seem to look more and more likely to clinch a spot in the playoffs for just the fifth time in franchise history, and the first time since 2011.

NL wild card runner-up: Cardinals (84-69)

  • Games remaining: 9 (6 home, 3 away)
  • Remaining opponent's winning percentage: .524
  • SportsLine's playoff odds: 85.0 percent
  • SportsLine's World Series odds: 3.8 percent

Three straight wins early in the week helped right the ship a bit before a loss Wednesday, but the Cardinals are now 5 1/2 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central and three games behind the Brewers for the top wild-card spot. They're 1 1/2 games up on the Rockies for the second wild-card spot and play their next six at home.

The Brewers, Cardinals, and either the Rockies or Dodgers could still finish with identical records. Here's what would happen if there were a three-team tie in the wild-card race:

  1. The three teams are assigned Club A, Club B, and Club C designations based on a long cookbook formula that includes head-to-head records and things like that.
  2. Club A hosts Club B. The winner is awarded a wild-card spot.
  3. Club C hosts the loser of the Club A vs. Club B game. The winner is awarded the other wild-card spot.
  4. The Wild Card Game is then played.

In this scenario, you want the Club A designation. That gives you a guaranteed home game and two chances to win one game to qualify for the postseason.

Teams on the outside looking in

  • Rockies: 82-70 (19.0 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
  • Diamondbacks: 79-74 (0.4 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)
  • Phillies: 78-74 (3.8 percent postseason odds per SportsLine) 
  • Pirates: 77-74 (0.0 percent postseason odds per SportsLine) 
  • Nationals: 77-76 (0.0 percent postseason odds per SportsLine)

The Rockies are still mathematically alive, and have the best postseason odds among the NL teams outside the postseason picture, but after getting swept by the Dodgers, they need a quick turnaround or their playoff hopes will be gone. They are currently 2 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot. 

The Phillies are 6 1/2 games back of the Braves in the NL East and 5 1/2 games back of the second wild-card spot. They lost the opener against the Braves in a four-game series, and the rest of their head-to-head games remaining with Atlanta are their best shot at the postseason.

The Diamondbacks have gone 5-13 in their September games. On Aug. 30, the D-Backs beat the Dodgers 3-1 in Los Angeles and were in first place in the NL West, up 1 1/2 games over the Rockies. Now, the Diamondbacks are five games back for the second wild-card spot.

The Pirates and Nationals both remain mathematically alive for the postseason, but the two teams will most likely be officially eliminated by the end of this weekend.

Teams eliminated

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