The second wild card bid may end up being a life-saver for the defending MLB champions, as the St. Louis Cardinals would have been trailing the Atlanta Braves in the race for a post-season berth at this time last year.
But with the second spot now available, both St. Louis (74-62) and Atlanta (76-60) are narrowly ahead of the new-look LA Dodgers, who are currently 1.5 games behind the Cardinals at 73-64.
With the Cincinnati Reds far ahead of the field in the NL Central at 83-55, the only realistic path for St. Louis to defend their pennant is the wild card.
However, a wild card is worth a lot less than it used to be, as the two winners will have to meet in a winner-take-all game before the start of the division series, with the winner having to burn their ace before the start of the five-game series.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, at 2.5 games back, are the only realistic contender to grab a wild card berth in the NL.
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