The NL Central race became much clear Wednesday. The first-place St. Louis Cardinals (94-65) beat the Washington Nationals, 4-1, and the Cincinnati Reds (90-69) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (91-68) lost to the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs to give the Cards a healthy cushion atop the division with three games left in the regular season.
With a loss, the Reds have been mathematically eliminated from winning the NL Central pennant. The Bucs technically still have a chance to tie the division, but they would need to win out against the Reds and the Cardinals would have to lose out against the Cubs to close the season. Technically speaking, the Cardinals have a 99.8 percent chance of ultimately clinching the division title.
The magic number for St. Louis to clinch the NL Central is one.
As a result, the Reds and the Pirates will, in overwhelming likelihood, be facing each other in the one-game NL Wild Card playoff. The winner of that game would go to face the top-seeded team among NL division winners in the NLDS, which is currently the Cardinals. St. Louis is currently a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Braves (93-65), and two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers (91-66).