I guess the headline is a little deceiving because yes, the Cincinnati Reds can make the playoffs. There are eight games left on their schedule and they are currently one game out of the final playoff spot. Before we dive too far into things, let’s take a look at the standings and the playoff odds for the National League Wild Card:
The top three teams get a wild card spot and will make the playoffs. Philadelphia has a big lead and as such, their playoff odds (via Fangraphs) are about as high as a non-clinched of yet team can have. Arizona’s got to be feeling good about their chances, too. The Cubs, Marlins, and Reds, though, are all bunched up together and are more likely to not make the playoffs than to make the playoffs. San Francisco probably is going to need to win out the rest of the season, and get some help in order to grab a playoff spot.
Cincinnati has the tiebreaker over Chicago if those two teams were to wind up tied at the end of the season. They also hold the tiebreaker over Arizona if the two teams are tied. They do not hold the tiebreaker over the Marlins in a scenario in which those two are tied at the end of the season.
The Reds have today off. On Friday they will open up a 3-game series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s the final homestand of the season, and perhaps the last chance to see Joey Votto play in Cincinnati, too. After that they’ll have an off day on Monday, play two games in Cleveland against the Guardians, have an off day on Thursday, and then wrap up the regular season with three games against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
All three teams left on the schedule are under .500. Two of the series are on the road – which has been a better result for the Reds this year. Cincinnati doesn’t control their own destiny, but they are close enough that if they end the season going 6-2 or better, then they’ll finish with 85 wins. That likely gets the job done. Anything less than that and things get real iffy, real quick.
The loss on Wednesday looms large. It’s a game that should have been a win, and while there are plenty of wins on the season that probably should have been losses, at this point in the season there’s so little time to make up for those games that it just feels larger.
As for the other clubs in the race, here’s how their schedules look:
Cubs – 1 game vs Pittsburgh, 3 games against Colorado, 3 games against Atlanta, 3 games vs Milwaukee.
Marlins – 3 games vs Milwaukee, 3 games vs New York (Mets), 3 games vs Pittsburgh
Dbacks – 3 games vs New York (Yankees), 2 games vs Chicago (White Sox), 3 games vs Houston
Giants – 7 games vs Los Angeles (Dodgers), 3 games vs San Diego