Which Teams Can Most Pull Away in the NL Wild Card Race

As the MLB season officially welcomes July, which of these NL teams can really pull away in the heated wild card race?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 02: Francisco Lindor #12 of the New York Mets celebrates his 11th inning walk off double with Pete Alonso #20, and DJ Stewart #29 to win the game against the Chicago Cubs 7-6 during their game at Citi Field on May 02, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The National League Wild Card race is appropriately… wild.

The MLB season has just tiptoed into July and 10 teams in the NL are currently duking it out for a spot in the postseason, as we get closer to the real dog days of summer.

As of this writing, the Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Milwaukee Brewers have all played themselves into enough breathing room atop their respective divisions.

That means nine of the remaining 11 NL teams all have a realistic shot of winning the 2024 Wild Card. (We can safely call the Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies out of the running.)

Ad – content continues below

Under the currently MLB playoff structure, there are two Wild Card series in both the National and American League. The lowest-seeded division winner and three wild card teams will hook up for a best-of-three series immediately following the end of the regular season.

Winners of each league’s wild card round advance to face the two best division winners.

And in some cases—like 2023’s Arizona Diamondbacks— make it to the World Series.

So, does your NL team have a shot at pulling away from the NL Wild Card race? Should you expect some big-time deals at the trade deadline?

Let’s break it all down, in order of standings, as of July 3rd.

Which of These NL Teams Can Pull Away From a Packed NL Wild Card Race?

National League Standings (via: MLB.com)

Atlanta Braves

The Braves have yet to hit their stride. Pre-season rankings had them among–if not the best–team in the National League.

Ad – content continues below

But maybe they won’t fulfill springtime expectations.

They’re currently nine games above .500 and are leading the NL Wild Card race.

They’ve been hit with major injuries to both Spencer Strider and Ronald Acuña Jr., both of whom won’t return in 2024. Marcell Ozuna continues to tear the cover off the ball (.300, 21 HR, 67 RBI, .951 OPS) but underwhelming seasons from Ausitn Riley (.250, 9 HR, 31 RBI, .744 OPS), Matt Olson (.242, 12 HR, 41 RBI, .748 OPS), and most of the rest of the starting nine, means they need an upgrade.

Chris Sale (10-3, 2.79 ERA), Reynaldo Lopez (6-2, 1.83 ERA) and Max Fried (7-3, 2.91 ERA) have been good, but the Braves need a bit more depth.

The Braves have already pulled away in the NL race. In order to catch the Phillies, though, the Braves need a starting pitcher and an outfielder.

Not making the playoffs in 2024 would be catastrophic for Atlanta. Look for them to keep pace.

Ad – content continues below

Can the Braves pull away in the NL Wild Card race? Absolutely.

St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals got off to a bullish start to the season and were, at a point, nine games under .500.

They turned it on in June and currently hold the last Wild Card spot.

The Cards got even better news regarding Lars Nootbar, who’s expected to begin a rehab assignment at the end of the first week of July.

A healthy Nootbar and getting Willson Contreras back on track could be a massive boost to the resurgent Cardinals.

Can the Cardinals pull away in the NL Wild Card race? Yes. If Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt return to form? Absolutely.

Ad – content continues below

San Diego Padres

The Padres are looking to separate themselves not only in the WC race but from a disappointing 2023 campaign.

A healthy Fernando Tatis Jr. (.279, 14 HR, 36 RBI, .822 OPS) is a massive boost but Jurickson Profar (.314, 11 HR, 55 RBI, .884 OPS) and Jake Cronenworth (.259, 12 HR, 53 RBI, .762 OPS) are leading the way.

They’ve gone 7-3 in their last 10 and trail the Braves by only three games for top spot among Wild Card teams.

Look for the Padres to add some depth pieces in July, maybe more. Keep in mind, GM A.J. Preller has never been shy to pull off a big move.

Can the Padres pull away in the NL Wild Card race? Absolutely.

New York Mets

Over the last month, the Mets have been one of the most exciting teams in baseball.

Ad – content continues below

Their strong play has erased a tough start to the season, when they fell 11 games under .500 on May 29th.

They continue to hover around the .500 mark, which means July will be a tough decision for the front office. If they continue at this pace over the next three weeks, look for them to add at the deadline.

If they cool off considerably, they could dish off Harrison Bader, J.D. Martinez, and starting pitchers Luis Severino, and Sean Manaea — all of whom are all set to hit the open market by year’s end.

Can the Mets pull away in the NL Wild Card race? If they mimic their June run, yes.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Last year’s NL champs are getting good production from Ketel Marte (.287, 17 HR, 49 RBI, .874 OPS), Joc Pederson (.283, 10 HR, 34 RBI, .873 OPS) and Christian Walker (.256, 17 HR, 53 RBI, .802 OPS), but their franchise star, Corbin Carroll has been struggling big-time.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year is really dampening Arizona’s upside. Carroll is hitting only .213 with two homers, 23 RBI, and only 14 SB — which is a key facet to his game. He has started to turn things around, but he is still not producing at the near-MVP level we saw at times last year.

Ad – content continues below

The starting rotation is also lagging, specifically Jordan Montgomery. The 31-year-old signed a late free agent deal with the D-Backs and has pitched to a 6-5 record with a 6.44 ERA in 13 games.

Last year’s studs, Merrill Kelly is on the 60-day IL with a shoulder injury and ace Zac Gallen is tending to a hamstring injury.

Magic has to strike Arizona two years in a row, it won’t be easy.

Can the Diamondbacks pull away in the NL Wild Card race? Not if Carroll and their starters don’t get going.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants have a lot of teams ahead of them during a campaign in which they’ve been mediocre.

Their July and August success will depend on capitalizing better in close games, staying consistent, and getting more from their starters.

Ad – content continues below

Their offensive production has been pretty even across the lineup, getting decent production from Matt Chapman, Heliot Ramos, Thairo Estrada, and Jorge Soler.

But they need their starting pitchers to turn it around. Simply put, their rotation has been okay. Logan Webb is 6-6 with a 3.12 ERA and Jordan Hicks is 4-4 with a 3.36 and Blake Snell is on a rehab assignment after a dreadful 0-3, 9.51 ERA to his Giants career.

Can the Giants pull away in the NL Wild Card race? It’s not looking good.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are fun to watch, but they’re a bit early to compete, even in a crammed Wild Card race.

The Bucks haven’t made the playoffs since 2015, but they need to address some big question marks across their roster, if they actually want to content.

Expect Jared Jones (93 Ks in 86 IP), Mitch Keller (9-4, 3.20 ERA), and Paul Skenes (4-0, 2.06 ERA) to head the Pirates’ rotation for a long time.

Ad – content continues below

Skenes has 70 strikeouts in 52.1 innings, and a healthy Oneil Cruz has been fun. But there’s not really much else to this team, right now.

Can the Pirates pull away in the NL Wild Card race? If their three aces really hit their stride, maybe. And that’s even a big maybe.

Cincinnati Reds

From one Cruz to another, Elly De La Cruz is one of the most exciting players to watch in baseball. He’s hitting bombs (14), knocking in runs (37 RBI), and leading the Majors with 40 stolen bases.

For the Reds, though, that’s pretty much it. Don’t expect them to go off in the second half.

Can the Reds pull away in the NL Wild Card race? Not unless Elly can pitch too?

Washington Nationals

The Nationals are the perfect example of how to get a good haul back for a superstar.

Ad – content continues below

CJ Abrams (.284, 13 HR, 42 RBI, .860) is emerging as the real deal, they just called James Wood aka the top prospect in all of baseball, and MacKenzie Gore has 107 strikeouts in just over 90 innings pitched.

Abrams, Wood, and Gore all came over to the Nats as part of the Juan Soto deal.

Kudos to the kids for playing well — and staying competitive — but the Nationals aren’t yet ready to make a run.

Can the Nationals pull away in the NL Wild Card race? Not just yet.

Chicago Cubs

Despite Shota Imanaga (7-2, 3.07 ERA) having a nice start to his North American career, the Cubs haven’t hit their stride consistently yet this season.

Craig Counsell’s first year as the Cubs skipper hasn’t gone well. His team needs more defence at third base, more production from his catchers, and more consistent arms behind Imanaga.

Ad – content continues below

The Cubs could deal Cody Bellinger or Ian Happ at the deadline, if they wanted to sell, Or, they could remain status quo, and look to retool for 2025.

One thing is for sure, they will not pull away in the NL Wild Card race with all of these teams ahead of them looking to do the same.

Can the Cubs pull away in the NL Wild Card race? No.