I know we've all been playing the "compare the Cubs and the Cards for the duration of the season" game, and it does generally look like it's one of the two teams. I've been thinking a lot about the teams and the series each team is playing, and wanted to get my thoughts into a generally cohesive format.
I'm going to take a quick look at each of the Cubs Matchups for the rest of the season, and roughly how I think they're going to go. If I get any sort of positive feedback or comments, I've got a similar list for the Cards matchups.
It's long, but it's a quick read (I'm not going to go too in-depth)
The Cubs have 28 division games remaining.
Reds 6 games (3 Away, 3 Home) 45-59 as of August 3rd
The Reds have, after their hot start, proven to be the same Cincinnati team that we're used to seeing. Coming into this first series against the Cubs, the Reds are bringing a 6 game losing streak and a general lack of spirit. They still have some talent on their ball club, and may very well take a couple of games from this Cubs team, but the general likeliness is that we can fairly easily get 4 wins from this series.
Pirates 9 games (3 Away, 6 Home) 45-59 as of August 3rd
Little can be said about the now AAA Pirates that hasn't already been said, but their recent fire sale is largely the imprint of a management team trying to put their ideas and faces into the team. Perhaps in a few years, they can be contenders for something. But now, not so much. They've lost seven of their last ten, and the one bright spot for them is that they're winning games at home (28-20 as of writing), and they have a lot more home games left.
That being said, I see no reason the Cubs can't get at least 6, and more likely 7, games against this team. In fact, I'll be pretty damn disappointed if they don't.
Astros 3 games (3 Home) 52-53 as of August 3rd
The Astros are always unique. Every time we think they can't possibly be contending for something, they somehow do. Yet right now they're looking at losing seven of their last ten, and the injury/being plain bad bug seems to be biting a lot of their players right now. They don't have too tough of a schedule through the rest of the season, but they're looking at enough games against good teams (particularly 7 games against the Phils, and 6 against the Cards), that they're likely done for the season, only 4.5 games out.
With that, the Astros always seem to try to ruin my life, so we'll likely trip up in this series, and probably get one game.
Brewers 7 games (4 Home, 3 Away) 52-53 as of August 3rd
Brewers seem to have a similar idea to the Astros--play well for a while, then let your lack of depth kill you in the long run. They don't have the worst schedule in the world, but they are largely a .500 team playing .500 ball, and the distance already between them and the teams at the top of the Central will be too much to keep them going anywhere.
I figure at minimum 4 games from this matchup. Especially, the late September matchup should likely involve the Brewers taking a look at some guys for next year.
Cardinals 3 games (3 Away) 58-50 as of August 3rd
Well, it's always them, and they're the ones to get over. All signs point to this series being absolutely crucial to our success this season. It's either going to be the "stomp their throats" portion, where we can put them behind us and begin focusing on our postseason, or it's going to be treading water and maybe getting ahead (unfortunately, more likely.)
I had a whole breakdown of common opponents, schedules, records, etc, between these two teams, but I dont' have enough of a presence on the board, likely, to push this novel through, let alone another one.
Since the break, the Cards have gone 9-8, while the Cubs have gone 12-5. It's the little details like that, if we can keep them up, that are going to give us the edge.
I'm hesitant to call things must win, especially a month and a half out, but this series is. Pure and simple. We need 2 here.
Phillies 3 games (3 Home) 59-47 as of August 3rd
The Phillies are good, and only got better at the end of last week. They're many people's favorite for the WS, and with good reason.
However, our last meeting with them our bats came alive in a 10-5 victory. The first game of that series, a Lilly that was obviously not himself (and went to the DL shortly thereafter pitched) Game 2 we lost in 13.
The Cubs can play the Phillies just as tough as anyone else can, as evidenced by that series. Being at Wrigley, we should have an advantage, even though the Phils are in that rare situation where they're barely over .500 at home, but rocking the away games.
We'll take 2 here.
Nationals 3 games (3 Home) 33-72 as of August 3rd
It's hard to sweep all 7 games of a series, but rarely do you get to play 7 games against a team like the Nationals. While it's not hard to imagine sweeping them at home, I'll say 2 games to be conservative.
Mets 6 games (3 Home, 3 Away) 50-54 as of August 3rd
The Mets are weird. Every time I think they've decided to be completely terrible, they play just well enough to keep themselves a stone's throw from first place. However, they're not good, and they're too spotty. I think we can get 4 games here.
Rockies 4 games (4 away) 58-47 as of August 3rd
I do not look forward to our west coast trips. I can't help but feel terrible things happening out there. The Rockies are playing solid baseball, and hopefully Philly can cool them off a bit before we get out there. With the way our bats have been swinging lately (namely, going over the plate and making contact with the ball occasionally), perhaps we can get something going.
As a sidenote, I can't help but really, really, really want to see Fox on the field as much as possible in the launching pad known as Colorado
2 games here, definitely, though 3 isn't out of the question.
Padres 3 games (3 away) 43-63 as of August 3rd
Go sweep them. They're bad, and they're not getting better any time soon.
Dodgers 4 games (4 away) 65-40 as of August 3rd
Here's something that doesn't come up as often as it should--the Dodgers are not that great outside of the west, playing just 11-10 against the central. I expect this to hold too, and we can finally get some of the Dodgers out of our mental block by splitting this series.
Giants 4 games (4 away) 58-47 as of August 3rd
Oh boy. They're playing well right now, and I wouldn't be shocked to see them easily take the wild card. I also don't see us doing so hot at the end of this 10 game trip spread from St. Louis to Milwaukee to San Francisco. We might lose three here, making that series against the Cards even more important than they always are.
Diamondbacks 3 games (3 home) 46-59 as of August 3rd
Should the Cubs and Cards play pong for the rest of the season, this series could be important. Or you could be seeing all of the backups playing (hopefully for a good reason). Thank goodness it's in Chicago.
2 games here.
As you can see, I'm thinking we win about 36-40 games through the end of the year, which I don't think is unreasonable, especially of a team with the potential like we have. We do, unfortunately have to hope some of those other teams can help us out, but that's where having 5 games more than they do comes into play.
The future of the season is in the Cubs hands. Let's stop being negative, and raise them up with the best our fandom has to offer.