It’s September 1, and thus we have 30 days remaining in the 2018 regular season.
While the term “pennant race” is a bit outdated — we’re talking about a “division title race” here — it still brings up memories of down-the-stretch baseball, meaningful baseball in September, something we as Cubs fans went without many years in the past. This is better and more fun.
Cubs: 28 games remaining (13 home, 15 road)
at Phillies (2), at Brewers (3), at Nationals (4), Brewers (3), Reds (3), at Diamondbacks (3), at White Sox (3), Pirates (4), Cardinals (3)
Cardinals: 27 games remaining (15 home, 12 road)
Reds (2), at Nationals (3), at Tigers (3), Pirates (3), Dodgers (4), at Braves (3), Giants (3), Brewers (3), at Cubs (3)
Brewers: 26 games remaining (15 home, 11 road)
at Nationals (2), Cubs (3), Giants (3), at Cubs (3), Pirates (3), Reds (3), at Pirates (3), at Cardinals (3), Tigers (3)
The first thing you’ll notice is how little these teams play each other. The Cubs and Brewers still have six games against each other, but the Brewers and Cardinals play just one three-game series, and the same is the case for the Cubs and Cardinals, that being the final three games of the season. Those could either mean everything, or nothing.
The Cubs have 14 games remaining against teams contending for postseason spots. The three games at Arizona could be tough for the Cubs, especially since historically they have not played well at Chase Field (although they’re 5-2 there the last two years). I would not look past that White Sox series, either, as the Sox just finished a 17-12 August and have just won three of five vs. the Yankees and Red Sox.
The Cardinals have 13 games remaining against contenders, including a trip to Atlanta, and those final three games of the season at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are 4-3 against the Cardinals at Wrigley so far in 2018.
The Brewers have nine games remaining against contending teams, all of them within the N.L. Central. (I’m not currently counting the Nats, Pirates or Giants as among contenders.) If they can hang in there till the final weekend, they will finish against the woeful Tigers, who are currently 4-10 against N.L. Central teams this year.
All that is why it’s good that the Cubs enter September with a lead of 3½ games over the Cardinals and four over the Brewers. It means that if the Cubs go 14-14 this month (and of course we hope they do better) for a 93-win season, the Cardinals would have to go 17-10 to catch them, and the Brewers would have to go 17-9.
All that is possible, of course, and that should make for an exciting month of September.