Since the Cubs won their getaway game against the Milwaukee Brewers and have a four-game cushion in the NL Central before heading to Washington to battle the slightly torn down but still not that bad Nationals, I thought I’d update from the previous blog and check on the outlook as September rolls along…
Based on the current standings, the Cubs are 82-57, which extrapolated across all 162 games is around a 95-96 win pace. The FanGraphs odds barely changed and project the Cubs to finish at 95 wins. You may also notice that the three best records in the National League remain within the Central, as the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals refuse to die already. If the season ended today, the Cubs would have the fifth best record in MLB, and unfortunately (or maybe fortunately since they could then DH Kyle Schwarber or Daniel Murphy for up to four games instead of just three, although this time I’d love a sweep rather than a seven-game thriller) would not have home field advantage in the World Series because the American League is so top-heavy this year. Let’s do a quick tally…
Chicago Cubs — 82-57, 23 games remaining
The Cubs will have Thursday all to themselves since apparently only four MLB contests, which means they have a chance to gain a half game if they don’t suck. We can do a moderately worst-case scenario where they go .500 the rest of the way. Keep in mind that as of now, the magic number to clinch is 19.
If the Cubs lose Thursday: 11-12 record, finishing at 93-69 (nice?).
If the Cubs win Thursday: 12-11 record, finishing at 94-68 (better than nice).
Milwaukee Brewers — 79-62, 21 games remaining, 4.0 games back of the Cubs
To match the Cubs at 93 wins given the moderately worst-case scenario (that sure is an oxymoron), that means the Brewers would have to go 14-7 in their remaining games, which also includes a series against the Cardinals even if they were to sweep the Cubs at Wrigley (let’s pretend that they won’t). 14-7 is a .667 winning percentage, which is not impossible, but highly difficult. They do end the season in Detroit, though, so let’s pretend they win all three of those games because the Tigers really suck. However, it’s okay to root for major spoilers.
St. Louis Cardinals — 78-62, 22 games remaining, 4.5 games back of the Cubs
Matching the Cubs at 93 wins would require a 15-7 record, which is one more victory than the Brewers need in our hypothetical. This again includes head-to-heads against both teams above them in the division, including the Cubs to end the season at Wrigley.
As we know, the Cubs will end the season with essentially a 10-game home stand since they begin that stretch with three games on the South Side. Joe Maddon has proven adept at mixing and matching the lineup to suit the day’s needs, and to rest his key players given their current cushion. The bullpen seems to be rested and effective as well, and the rotation is starting to really come together at the right time. If you’re a Cubs fan, you should feel pretty darned good right now.