NL playoff standings: Braves and Cardinals deadlocked

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers first-round opponent is still up in the air as the Atlanta Braves moved into a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in the National League. Los Angeles is nearly locked into the number three seed in the NL postseason.

The Braves and the Cardinals are tied atop the National League standings as the teams play out their final series to determine playoff seedings. Only two games of significance were played yesterday as the playoff bound NL Central teams were all off.

Here are Thursday's relevant results.

Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Angel Pagan stroked a solo homer off Paco Rodriguez in the eighth inning, snapping a 2-2 tie and nearly guaranteeing the Dodgers the number three seed in the National League post-season.

Braves 7, Phillies 1: Jason Heyward led off the bottom of the first, and his perfect 5-for-5 night, with a rally-killing solo homer, but his teammates added four runs in the frame, on their way to trouncing Philadelphia. Tyler Cloyd started for the Phillies and was charged with all seven Atlanta runs while departing the game with no outs in the second inning.

The combination of the Dodgers loss and the Braves win means that the Dodgers cannot top Atlanta for seeding, as Atlanta would prevail in the tiebreaker with the Dodgers. The Braves also hold the tiebreaker with the Cardinals, so even if Atlanta and St. Louis were to lose all their remaining games and the Dodgers won out, Atlanta would be top-seeded for the playoffs.

However, because the Dodgers hold the tiebreaker over St. Louis, they could host the Redbirds for the NLDS if Los Angeles sweeps the Rockies at home, while St. Louis loses all three of their games to the Cubs. But any Dodgers loss or any Cardinals win cements the number three seed for the Angelenos.

The only other scenario that nets Los Angeles a number two seed is Pittsburgh winning the NL Central (see below), as the Bucs would lose tiebreakers with the Dodgers and the Braves.

St. Louis continues to hold a magic number of one for the NL Central crown. Only one set of outcomes for the Pirates and the Cardinals would prevent the Redbirds from winning the division outright. As Eric Stephen explained yesterday:

If by chance both sweeps happen, the Pirates would host the Cardinals in a one-game tie-breaker for the division on Monday, Sept. 30. Pittsburgh would get home field advantage in said game thanks to winning 10 of 19 games against the Cardinals in 2013. The winner Monday would be NL Central champs, with the loser hosting Cincinnati on Tuesday in the wild card game.

Also yesterday Eric explained the scenarios for the NL wild card:

The Reds and Pirates meet for three games in Cincinnati beginning Friday night and, putting aside the double-sweep dream scenario for Pittsburgh, the winner of the three-game series in Cincinnati this weekend hosts the NL wild card game.

If the Pirates take two of three, they will finish with a better record than the Reds; if Cincinnati wins two of three games they tie Pittsburgh and would host the wild card game based on winning the season series, now tied at 8-8.

Today's games of interest in the National League (all times PT):

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