Ranking all the possible NL Wild Card matchups

September 14th, 2018

With just more than two weeks remaining in the Major League Baseball season, many of our races are, for all intents and purposes, settled. The American League is mostly locked in at this point: The Indians will likely clinch the AL Central this weekend, and the Red Sox won't be far behind them. There's a chance the A's catch the Astros in the West, but they're both making the playoffs regardless; who wins the division will play the Indians in the AL Division Series, and whoever loses will get the Yankees in the Wild Card Game. It's mostly locked.
But the National League remains chaos. The Braves are closing hard in the NL East, but everything else is thrillingly up in the air. And this is best illustrated by the Wild Card chase. Here, in case you need a refresher, is where it currently stands:
CHC: leads MIL in NL Central by 1 1/2 games
COL: leads LAD in NL West by 1 1/2 games
MIL: +3 for top NL Wild Card spot
STL: --
LAD: 1
ARI: 4
Complete Wild Card standings
Barring something truly surreal going down over the next fortnight, the NL Wild Card Game is going to involve two of those six teams. Every potential matchup is fascinating. But some are even more compelling than others. So, today, we take a look at potential NL Wild Card matchups and rank them based on potential narrative/excitement. A one-game playoff for postseason survival is inherently dramatic. But these certain matchups would be absolutely riveting.
Postseason Picture: Where things stand right now
1. Cubs vs. Cardinals
Season series: 9-7 Cardinals
Last Postseason Meeting: 2015 NLDS (Cubs won, 3-1)
One of the most heated rivalries in sports, in a one-game playoff, loser goes home? The fans of the winning team will lord it over the losing team's for decades to come.
2. Cubs vs. Brewers
Season series: 11-8 Cubs
Last Postseason Meeting: Never
As we've seen from this week's series, the Brewers and Cubs have something special going on right now. There's no team Brewers fans want to beat more.
3. Dodgers vs. Rockies
Season series: 9-7 Dodgers
Last Postseason Meeting: Never
Every Rockies-Dodgers game has felt epic for basically two seasons now, with none bigger than the walk-off homer last month at Coors Field. If that happened in a Wild Card Game, the Rockpile would be rubble.

4. Cardinals vs. Dodgers
Season series: 3-1 Cardinals
Last Postseason Meeting: 2014 NLDS (Cardinals won, 3-1)
They have a monumental four-game set at Busch Stadium happening right now, but their postseason clashes are already legendary. Sorry, : Matt Adams is back in a Cardinals uniform.

5. Cubs vs. Dodgers
Season Series: 4-3 Cubs
Last Postseason Meeting: 2017 NLCS (Dodgers won, 4-1)
It would almost feel wrong to have the rubber match after two NLCS be in the Wild Card Game.
6. Brewers vs. Cardinals
Season series: 8-8
Last Postseason Meeting: 2011 NLCS (Cardinals won, 4-2)
These two have a huge series coming up in St. Louis the final week of the season, and they have such a postseason history that they've played each other in both the NLCS and the World Series.
7. Dodgers vs. D-backs
Season series: 9-7 D-backs
Last Postseason Meeting: 2017 NLDS (Dodgers won, 3-0)
They just met last year, in the NLDS that was over so quickly that few outside their fan bases remember today.

8. Cardinals vs. Rockies
Season Series: 5-2 Cardinals
Last Postseason Meeting: Never
The Cardinals let go without much of a fight a few years ago, and seeing him back with the Rockies, at Busch Stadium, would lead to quite a bit of drama.
9. Cubs vs. D-backs
Season series: 2-2
Last Postseason Meeting: 2007 NLDS (D-backs won, 3-0)
The Cubs head out to Arizona for a series next week, and as usual, there will be many Cubs fans in Phoenix. The same would happen if the D-backs hosted Chicago in a Wild Card Game. (Though with Arizona's recent struggles, hard to see that club hosting the Wild Card Game at this point.)
10. Brewers vs. Rockies
Season series: 5-2 Brewers
Last Postseason Meeting: Never
Collectively, the Brewers' OPS is about 50 points lower against lefties than righties, making a potentially scary matchup in a one-game series.

11. Cardinals vs. D-backs
Season series: 3-3
Last Postseason Meeting: 2002 NLDS (Cardinals won, 3-0)
Perhaps we could have a rekindling of the great Torey Lovullo- feud of July 2018.
12. Brewers vs. Dodgers
Season Series: 4-3 Dodgers
Last Postseason Meeting: Never
The teams split an epic series at Chavez Ravine last month, including a game where the Dodgers won, 21-5.

13. Cubs vs. Rockies
Season Series: 3-3
Last Postseason Meeting: Never
Either venue would be a festive one for a Wild Card Game, but the idea of those Cubs hitters at Coors in a one-game playoff is as enticing as it is unlikely.
14. Brewers vs. D-backs
Season Series: 5-1 Brewers
Last Postseason Meeting: 2011 NLDS (Brewers won, 3-2)
The D-backs' worst stretch of the season involved a road trip to New York and Milwaukee that ended 0-6.
15. Rockies vs. D-backs
Season Series: 8-8
Last Postseason Meeting: 2017 Wild Card Game (D-backs won, 11-8).
Ordinarily a division rivalry would rate higher than this, but we, of course, just saw this game last year.