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MLB Wild Card: Late Surprises and Predictions in the NL

The race for the National League Wild Card is on fire.

With less than 20 games left in the regular season, the race for the National League Wild Card is on fire.

While the Mets and Braves are battling head to head for the East Division, the Phillies, Padres and Brewers have entered survival mode to reach the postseason.

We'll take a look at the National League Wild Card scene and, based on our analysis, predict who will advance in October.

New York Mets

They are just 0.5 games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East, and although they have an accessible schedule to stay on top, there are a few key games where everything will be decided. New York has a pending three-game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers, who are likely still trying to reach the Wild Card, and then will play three games in Atlanta against the Braves to finish the season.

The starting pitcher Scherzer, who is 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA so far this season, is working back from an injury. He’s expected to return to big league action next week in Milwaukee. The Mets' stay at the top of the East depends largely on what the team can do without Scherzer and then how the pitcher arrives after his injury for his final three starts.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves are in an important groove at 7-3 in their last 10 games. The last World Series champions will fight until the end to conquer the East.

Atlanta's schedule is a bit more complicated than the Mets', with six games remaining against the Phillies (three at home and three away), plus the above-mentioned three-game series against the Mets at the end of the season.

In the last two weeks, Michael Harris has carried the offensive load for the team, batting .422 with 12 RBIs. It will be crucial for stars like Matt Olson and Ronald Acuna Jr. to wake up from their slumps in order for Atlanta to win the games they are supposed to take.

The possible return of Mike Soroka could help the team greatly. The question is how much will the pitcher be able to contribute? So far, he has not looked good during his rehab pitching in the minors, with a 5.06 ERA over 16 innings since joining the Stripers (Triple-A).

Phillies, Padres and Brewers battle for the Wild Card

San Diego has a star-studded team that has relied on Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth’s offense, however, their schedule does not look easy. After closing the series against Seattle (also fighting for the Wild Card), they have three games left at home against St. Louis and three against the Dodgers, although these teams will be qualified as leaders of their divisions.

The Padres have not been hitting consistently, and their bullpen is not reliable at all. Bob Melvin's team has all the elements to qualify, but they have to do their job and win. Juan Soto is batting .086 with just one RBI in the last two weeks. Will the once-monster finally wake up?

Philladelphia has a fairly accessible calendar, with the four-game series against Atlanta being the real challenge. Although the team closes the season in Houston, the Astros will already be more than qualified and thinking about October.

Schwarber, Harper and Realmuto are significant offensive weapons that the team has relied on in recent times. Will Nick Castellanos be able to return and help the team? Will their rotating bullpen be able to keep the wins coming?

Milwaukee has a difficult schedule the rest of the way, but the games against the Yankees, Mets, and Cardinals will all be at home. Currently out of the Wild Card picture, the Brewers not only must win out, but are dependent on San Diego and Philadelphia losing games. In these cases, it is difficult for them to advance, but who knows.

Prediction

The real battle in the final stretch will be between the Braves and the Mets to avoid the Wild Card series, where anything can happen in three games. Given the schedules and the depth the team has in terms of starting pitching and offense, the Mets should win the NL East. The Phillies and Padres will join Atlanta in the Wild Card.