I had a request in the comments a couple of days ago to do this again, so here it is. I'm thinking of making this a weekly feature for the rest of the season. These are all the remaining games for the N.L. Central contenders, including Sunday.
Rockies (1), at Brewers (3), at Cardinals (3), at Reds (3), Brewers (4), Cubs (4), at Dodgers (3), at Rockies (4), at Cubs (3), Cardinals (3), Reds (3)
As of Sunday morning, Fangraphs' playoff odds page shows these three teams with three of the highest four playoff chances in the National League. The Cardinals are at 100%, the Pirates 99.9% and the Cubs 91.6% (the Dodgers are slightly higher than the Cubs at 92%).
The key to what happens in the division is likely the large number of games these teams play against each other. The Cubs have 13 of their remaining 34 games against the Cardinals (six) and Pirates (seven), and we just learned earlier today about the August 3 rainout makeup date:
The Cardinals play Pittsburgh six times and the Cubs six times, and the Pirates have the seven games with the Cubs and six with the Cardinals. (Note, that game time above is 1:35 p.m. ET, 12:35 CT.)
The advantage would seem to go with the Cubs and Cardinals here. The Cubs have 25 games remaining within the division, the Cardinals 26 and the Pirates 26. St. Louis is 32-18 against N.L. Central teams, the Cubs are 29-22... and the Pirates just 21-29. Pittsburgh is 5-7 against the Cubs, 6-7 against the Cardinals and only 4-9 against the woeful Reds.
So September could be a rough month for the Pirates, who are 19-7 in August. With two games remaining in the month, the Cubs are 18-8 in August and the Cardinals 17-9, so you can see there's been very little movement among the three teams this month.
Finally, here are the home-road splits among remaining games for these three clubs:
Cardinals: 16 home, 17 road Cubs: 16 home, 18 road Pirates: 15 home, 19 road
There isn't much advantage or disadvantage here, though the Pirates have been much better at home (46-20) than away from PNC Park (33-29).
Meaningful September baseball. Now isn't that a great thought? Get ready for a fun ride through baseball's last regular-season month.