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NL Playoff Race Watch: Brewers move into 8th seed

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The NL East is having a tough start to the week, leading to 4 NL Central teams currently holding playoff spots

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies are in the middle of a massive season-ending slide, and that’s helping the Brewers.

The Brewers’ win over the Reds on Tuesday night combined with the Phillies losing both ends of a double header to the last-place Nationals has the Brewers sitting in a playoff spot ahead of today’s series finale in Cincinnati.

Standings

NL Playoff Race - 9/23/2020

Seed Team (Place-Division) W L PCT
Seed Team (Place-Division) W L PCT
1 Los Angeles (1-W) 39 16 0.709
2 Atlanta (1-E) 33 22 0.600
3 Chicago (1-C) 32 23 0.582
4 San Diego (2-W) 34 21 0.618
5 St. Louis (2-C) 27 25 0.519
6 Miami (2-E) 28 27 0.509
7 Cincinnati (1-WC) 28 28 0.500
8 Milwaukee (2-WC) 27 27 0.500
San Francisco 27 27 0.500
Philadelphia 27 29 0.482
New York 25 30 0.455
Colorado 24 30 0.444

There are now 4 NL Central teams currently holding playoff positions with about a half-week to go, thanks to Philly’s slump. The Cubs, at 32-23, clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday night, but have yet to clinch the division title. They’re also just a game behind the Braves for the 2nd seed in the NL bracket, while the Dodgers have all but locked up the top overall seed.

The Cardinals beat Kansas City on Tuesday, moving them to two games over .500 at 27-25. The Brewers and Reds are once again effectively tied at .500 (although the Reds have played 2 more games), 1 game behind the Cardinals for the Central’s 2nd autobid into the postseason.

As of today, that puts them in the 5th seed, just ahead of Miami (28-27) — which would mean facing San Diego in the first round. Since the first three seeds are division winners, that means the Padres are basically locked into the 4th seed despite having the second-best record in the league, and the Central’s 2nd place finisher would likely be better off aiming for the 6th seed instead of the 5th.

Unfortunately for all involved, those kind of shenanigans may be tough to pull off, considering the eventual 2nd place finisher in the Central will likely need to win every game it can just to secure that spot on the last day of the season (or, in the case of the Cardinals, another possible doubleheader on Monday in Detroit if it’s determined those games are needed to decide the standings — which it looks like may be the case as of now).

The Reds and Brewers currently hold the 7th and 8th spots, respectively, while the Giants are on the outside looking in by virtue of baseball’s tiebreakers — a reminder that no extra games/Game 163s/Game 61s will be played this year, and ties will be broken largely based on head-to-head and intra-division records.

Even if the Brewers’ odds of at least getting the 8th spot continue to improve in the next couple days, there’s still the matter of jostling for seeding — after all, the difference even between the 8th and 7th seeds could mean playing the Dodgers, or possibly playing the Cubs (who could still land the 2nd seed) in a much more appealing scenario. But again — that may not be a luxury the Brewers and Reds have, unless the Phillies continue to struggle and the Giants fall back.

Remaining Schedules

Brewers - 1 @ CIN, 5 @ STL

Reds - 1 vs. MIL, 3 @ MIN

Cardinals - 1 @ KC, 5 vs. MIL

Marlins - 2 @ ATL, 3 @ NYY

Giants - 2 vs. COL, 4 vs. SD

Phillies - 1 @ WAS, 3 @ TB

Mets - 1 vs. TB, 4 @ WAS

Rockies - 2 @ SF, 4 @ ARI