The Cubs have 58 games remaining in the 2016 regular season. Of those 58, 33 will be against N.L. Central teams (Cardinals, 10; Pirates, 7; Brewers, 10; Reds, 6).
The Cardinals trail the Cubs by eight games and the Pirates are 11 back as of Tuesday afternoon; the Brewers and Reds are also-rans.
Here's a summary of what these four teams did as the non-waiver deadline passed Monday.
The Cardinals have had bullpen issues this year, and closer Trevor Rosenthal was first demoted, then recently sent to the disabled list with shoulder issues. The Cardinals made just one deal at the deadline, acquiring Zach Duke from the White Sox for minor-league outfielder (and Chicago-area native) Charlie Tilson.
The Cardinals have been winning games with their offense (they've scored one fewer run than the Cubs), so maybe they felt they didn't need any other help. Duke will help them, but their bullpen is still a bit thin.
The Pirates, who have been in the wild-card game three straight years, appear to have given up on 2016. They traded away their closer (Mark Melancon) and two members of their starting rotation (Francisco Liriano and Jonathon Niese). To be fair, the Bucs do have a couple of young pitchers (Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow) who are rotation-ready, though both of them currently are on the disabled list with "shoulder fatigue."
The Pirates likely were not going to re-sign Melancon, who's a free agent at the end of this season, and couldn't likely afford an extension for Liriano.
So they appear to be re-tooling for 2017.
The Brewers, who currently rank 12th in the N.L. in runs, traded away one of their best hitters, Jonathan Lucroy.
The Brewers, who currently are sixth from the bottom in the N.L. in relief runs allowed per game, traded away their closer (Jeremy Jeffress) and one of their better setup men (Will Smith). They got a pretty decent haul of prospects back, including Andrew Susac, who's likely going to become their starting catcher, replacing Lucroy.
But this is a classic selloff by a noncontender. The Brewers are 10 games under .500 and 16½ games out of first place. They're likely to sink lower in the division.
The Reds had lots of movable parts, and are even worse than the Brewers at this time, standing 20 games under .500 and 21½ games out of first place.
Yet all they did was trade Jay Bruce, selling high on him as he was having one of his best years. Reds pitching is on pace to allow more than 900 runs this year, and subtracting Bruce from an offense that ranks 11th in the N.L. in runs scored won't help them win many games.
Of the Cubs' potential playoff opponents, the Nationals and Giants made the biggest moves. The Nats acquired Melancon from the Pirates to replace Jonathan Papelbon as closer. Papelbon was having a bad year and this should help the Nats' pen. The Giants added starter Matt Moore from the Rays (in addition to Smith), but at the cost of starting third baseman Matt Duffy.
How do you think these teams stand as we enter the season's final two months? The Cubs, of course, bolstered their bullpen with the acquisitions of Aroldis Chapman, Joe Smith and Mike Montgomery. Was that enough to hold off division rivals and postseason opponents?