Since I last made a “remaining schedule” post 10 days ago, the N.L. Central hasn’t really defined itself too well.
The Cubs have sneaked out to a two-game lead, but with six weeks to go that’s certainly not a lock. The Cubs will have to keep playing the way they did against the Blue Jays, getting timely hitting and (mostly) good pitching to keep winning. (Though I would certainly not recommend going down two runs in an extra inning as a way to win games.)
Note: the games listed below are not necessarily in chronological order.
Cubs (39 games: 19 home, 20 road)
The Cubs still have what should be considered an “easy” schedule. At this writing, of their 39 remaining games, just 14 are against teams that currently have winning records. That didn’t work out so well against the Reds, though, so the Cubs shouldn’t take anything for granted.
Cardinals (38 games: 19 home, 19 road)
Home: Padres (3), Rays (3), Pirates (3), Reds (3), Cubs (4), Brewers (3)
Road: Pirates (3), Brewers (2), Giants (4), Padres (4), Cubs (3), Reds (3)
The Cardinals still have a West Coast swing remaining, though it’s against the two worst teams in the N.L. West. The Cardinals are just 1-2 vs. the Giants so far this year, and oddly, have not played the Padres at all. They’ll play their entire season series vs. the Padres over the next two and a half weeks, beginning with three in St. Louis starting Tuesday.
Brewers (37 games: 16 home, 21 road)
Home: Pirates (3), Cardinals (2), Nationals (4), Cubs (4), Reds (3)
The Brewers have done all right in the first three games of their West Coast trip, taking two of three from the Rockies in Denver. That’s not easy to do, as the Rockies (including this weekend’s set) are 38-25 at home. The Brewers travel to San Francisco next, and the Giants just split a four-game series at home vs. the awful Phillies, so this one might not be so tough. After that, though, the Brewers have a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. Here’s hoping the Pacific time zone is not kind to the Brewers.
Pirates (38 games: 19 home, 19 road)
Home: Dodgers (4), Reds (3), Cubs (4), Brewers (3), Cardinals (3), Orioles (2)
Road: Brewers (3), Reds (6), Cubs (3), Cardinals (3), Nationals (4)
The Pirates, like the Cardinals, have an equal home-road split remaining. Their biggest issue is that even if they’re still in contention in the season’s last week, they have to finish with a four-game series at Washington. The Nats will have long clinched their division by then, but should be playing to get ready for the postseason.
Ranking the schedules, I’d place the Cubs as “easiest,” though it’s close. The Cubs do have the most remaining home games, and no other team has more home games than road games. The Cubs have the only winning road record of any of the four teams, and they have the best intradivisional record of any of the teams:
Record within N.L. Central