Wild Card Threats: Who will compete for the 1st and 2nd Wild Card?

Hey, were only one game out of a wild card spot!!

As they've already shown in the first two games of the season, the dodgers look like the elite team in the NL West. So as with many teams in the MLB, the Dbacks best option for a playoff spot looks like the wild card. With the Cardinals and Dodgers generally regarded as favorites in their divisions, who are the other teams in the wild card picture?

The National League

The Obvious: Atlanta Braves/Washington Nationals

I think pretty much everybody can agree that both the Nationals and Braves will make the playoffs. One of them as the division champion, and the other as a wild card. Both of their pitching staffs are arguably one of the best in the NL despite some injury's. Young bats like Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, Ian Desmond, and others should get them enough run support for their pitching.

The Obvious: Cincinnati Reds

Choo is a big loss, but their offense is still good enough to get get the job done. Homer Baily and Matt Latos are very underrated pitchers, along with Mike Leake and Johny Cueto.

The Highly Unlikely: Philadelphia Phillies

What the hell happened? It's hard to imagine how Ruben Amaro could screw up a hundred win team from 3 years ago, but Ruben Amaro Jr has found a way. Granted, You can't blame him for everything, considering key players like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have had injury problems. The Phillies need their stars from years ago to shine in 2013 if they have any chance at competing for a wild card. It also doesn't help they might have one of the worst bullpens in the NL.

The Highly Unlikely: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies offense can compete with anyone in baseball, but Brett Anderson is just not the big pitching piece the Rockies need to compete. They're not completely hopeless, but I wouldn't bet on them finishing higher then 74 wins.

The Highly Unlikely: San Diego Padres

"What? You're saying these guys aren't really that great?"

Yes, it's true. The Padres don't play the rest of the MLB like they do us. That doesn't mean they aren't talented though. Nor their offense or pitching will intimidate anyone, but it's good enough to at least be average. The bullpen suffers a big loss with Luke Gregerson being traded, which is still a head scratcher. It will be fun to see how Austin Hedges does, as he's likely to make his debut this year.

The Highly Unlikely: New York Mets

The Mets had a very underrated offseason. He may be overrated, but Curtis Granderson is a huge upgrade on offense. The same could be said about Colon on the pitching side. It's to bad the Mets chances are extremely low due to the injury of Harvey and the very crappy bullpen.

The Who Knows: San Francisco Giants

If Cain, Vogey, and Lincecum can all pitch like they're capable of, there's no doubt in my mind they'll be in the playoff picture till the very end. But that's a big if. The offense is above average when everyone is contributing, but it's going to come down to the pitching for the 2012 champs.

The Who Knows: Pittsburgh Pirates

I don't know if you aim to repeat as wild card champs, but with the stacked Cardinals having the potential to win 100 games, it looks to be the best case scenario for the Pirates. They didn't do much of anything in the offseason, and loss two big pieces in Morneau and Byrd. The pitching is solid, but I'm not sure if the bucs can rely on Francisco Liriano to have as great of a year as last. The Pirates biggest strength is the bullpen. Headlined by Jason Grilli, the pirates bullpen finished 2nd in the NL in era last year. That could be a big key in their chase back to the playoffs.

The Who Knows: Arizona Diamondbacks

We may be the worst team in baseball right now, but luckily there's still 160 more games to go! The offense has potential to compete with anyone in baseball with Goldy, Hill, Trumbo, Prado, and a bounce back year from Montero. It'll be fun to see if the bullpen can bounce back after blowing two games a week last year. But the pitching is the down point in this team, and that looks like it'll keep us from partying in October.

The American League

The AL East will continue to remain a stacked division with New York, Boston, Tampa, and even Baltimore looking to compete. The young Royals might finally have the bats and arms to get a playoff spot for the first time in over twenty years. The West will continue to be a race between the underrated A's against the revamped Rangers. It'll be interesting to see how the improvements on the Mariners and Angels pay off, but even if everything goes well, I don't think it'll be enough.

Conclusion

In the AL, the Rangers will finally hold off the A's, and force them to play the Royals in Kansas City's first playoff game since 1985. The Braves will easily be the first wild card in the NL. The Diamondbacks have plenty of offense and with the better bullpen, they'll be better in 2014. But the pitching is just not good enough to pass the Reds or Pirates for the 2nd wild card.

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