The playoff hunt has begun to wind down, and like the American League, the National League is far from certain.
With 12 games left in the regular season, five teams are vying for two spots. Only the Philadelphia Phillies were closer to finishing first.
The Phillies had an 82-68 record and were four games ahead of the National League’s first wild-card round.
There are five teams vying for the other two spots, with leads of less than five games. Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants.
Arizona State and Chicago hold the second and third wild-card spots, but Cincinnati and Miami are only a game and a half apart. The San Francisco Giants are further behind, two games shy of the final playoff spot.
Who has the best chance of advancing to the National League playoffs?
The Defenders will begin an abbreviated two-game series against San Francisco that could escalate the battle or eliminate more playoff contenders. Their schedule is difficult against the Yankees, White Sox and Houston Astros.
The Chicago Cubs have one of the toughest schedules, completing their final six games against division rivals the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers.
As far as the Cincinnati Reds are concerned, they won’t face any direct opponents (Twins, Pirates, Guardians, and Cardinals) the rest of the way. Although their last 6 games have been as away teams.
The Miami Marlins have 11 games remaining (5 against the Mets), (3 against the Pirates) and (3 against the Brewers). Miami also doesn’t face a conference opponent, and its last two opponents will be against teams with sub-.500 records.