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NL Wild Card update: Braves building lead despite injuries

Atlanta has had to deal with plenty of injuries all season, the latest to Ronald Acuna Jr. We break down the NL Wild Card race.

Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (7) reacts after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning of an MLB game against the San Diego Padres on May 15, 2022 at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The MLB season is approaching the end of August and we’re taking a look at the playoff picture. The National League shouldn’t offer us many surprises at this point. The NL West is all but decided with the Los Angeles Dodgers running away with things. The NL Central is competitive and will come down to the Milwaukee Brewers vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. The NL East is interesting despite the New York Mets dominance. The Atlanta Braves have an outside shot to take over the division from the Mets. If the Braves don’t, the first WC spot in the NL feels very likely. Let’s take a look at the updated NL WC standings.

NL Wild Card standings, August 16

1st WC spot: Atlanta Braves, 71-46 — +6.5
2nd WC spot: Philadelphia Phillies, 65-51 — +1.0
3rd WC spot: San Diego Padres, 65-53 —

Milwaukee Brewers, 61-53 — 2.0 GB
San Francisco Giants, 58-57 — 5.5 GB

The Braves have a nice lead on the Padres and likely won’t get overtaken before the end of the season. The Padres have a bit of pressure now that Fernando Tatis Jr. isn’t coming back after being suspended for PED use. The Phillies, Padres and Brewers are essentially competing for the two spots. The Giants have an outside shot and we shouldn’t count them out entirely. This is a team that led the MLB in wins last season and won the NL West division title.

The latest Braves injury is to Ronald Acuna Jr., who is dealing with a knee injury. He’s been held out of the lineup and ATL could be cautious with him moving forward the rest of the season. Ozzie Albies should be back in the lineup before the end of the season. Top prospect Vaughn Grissom was recalled from AAA to replace Orlando Arcia, who was placed on the injured list. If Acuna ends up on the IL, we could see another move by the Braves. It shouldn’t have a huge impact on the NL WC race with the Braves holding a decent lead over the Pads. We’ll see as the season gets into the home stretch.