Major League Baseball’s regular season ends three weeks from next Sunday.
Hard to believe, right? Where has this summer gone?
Anyway, the Cubs are still in control of their destiny in the N.L. Central, being in first place. Keep winning and a division clincher will come.
Here are the schedules for the three remaining contenders (the Pirates have fallen well out of contention at this point). For this article I’ve put the remaining schedules in chronological order. Home games in boldface.
Cubs: 25 games (12 home, 13 road)
This schedule might be deceptively difficult. 14 of these 25 games are against teams that currently have winning records, all the games against the Brewers and Cardinals. On the other hand, the Cubs are 15-9 against those two teams so far this year and are 32-17 since the All-Star break. Continuing at that pace would give the Cubs 91 or 92 wins for the season.
Brewers: 24 games (10 home, 14 road)
at Reds (2), at Cubs (3), Pirates (3), at Marlins (3), at Pirates (3), Cubs (4), Reds (3), at Cardinals (3)
The Brewers have the disadvantage of having to play most of their games away from Miller Park, where they are 39-32, and they are currently in a stretch where they play 12 of 15 on the road. They’ve got five games left against the Reds and have to finish away from Milwaukee. Their last three games in St. Louis could be quite important.
Cardinals: 25 games (13 home, 12 road)
at Padres (3), Pirates (3), Reds (3), at Cubs (3), at Reds (3), at Pirates (3), Cubs (4), Brewers (3)
If the Cardinals are going to make any sort of postseason run, they will probably have to run the table, or nearly so, in their season-ending homestand against the Cubs and Brewers. The Cubs might be close to a division clincher during that four-game series that begins September 25. The Cardinals have the worst road record among the three teams (33-36), so winning their games at home becomes much more important.
The Brewers have the most off days remaining, three. The Cubs and Cardinals have two off days left this year.
The Cubs have the longest homestand remaining of any of the teams (nine games), but also the longest road trip (10 games). The Cubs have the only winning road record among the three and have played well at Miller Park this year (4-2).
If the teams continue to play at approximately the winning percentages they have since the All-Star break, the Cubs should finish with 92 wins, the Brewers with 85 and the Cardinals with 84. That seems about right to me, a comfortable division championship for the Cubs.
Now, here’s hoping the Cubs go out and do just that!