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The Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals and remaining schedules

Two weeks to go!

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs enter Monday’s action 2½ games ahead of the Brewers and 5½ games ahead of the Cardinals in the N.L. Central, and still hold the best record in the National League by 2½ games ahead of Milwaukee, four games ahead of Atlanta and five over Colorado (the two latter are currently the other division leaders).

Per Fangraphs, they have a 99.9 percent chance of making the postseason and an 87.3 percent chance of winning the division.

The division-clinching magic number over the Brewers is 11 and over the Cardinals, it’s 8.

Here’s what all three teams have remaining on their schedules for the rest of the 2018 regular season, listed in chronological order. Home games in boldface.

Cubs: 13 (7 home, 6 road)

at Diamondbacks (3), at White Sox (3), Pirates (4), Cardinals (3)

Brewers: 12 (6 home, 6 road)

Reds (3), at Pirates (3), at Cardinals (3), Tigers (3)

Cardinals: 12 (6 home, 6 road)

at Braves (3), Giants (3), Brewers (3), at Cubs (3)

As you can see, the Brewers and Cardinals have one more off day than the Cubs do, but in general these schedules seem pretty equal. The Cubs and Brewers both play A.L. Central teams that are out of the race, though the White Sox have played better recently (they’re 22-21 since August 1). The advantage here for the Cubs is that they’ll be able to use the DH in the three road games vs. the White Sox. The Cubs are also likely to play in front of very friendly crowds with lots of Cubs fans at all six of their remaining road games.

The Brewers aren’t nearly as good in road games (39-36) as they are at Miller Park (46-29). They’re 11-5 against the Reds this year, but only 5-11 against the Pirates. By the time they face the Cardinals, St. Louis might be eliminated from the division race and at that point, we’d have to root for the Cardinals to win those games.

From the Cardinals’ standpoint, they have a tough series in Atlanta coming up. They got swept by the Braves earlier this year in St. Louis and Atlanta’s also hoping to clinch a division title soon, with a magic number of 8. The Giants have apparently checked out for the year, losing 12 of their last 14; the Giants and Cardinals earlier split four games in San Francisco. Even if they fall out of the division race, the Cardinals still have a shot at being in the wild-card game.

The final three Cubs/Cardinals games at Wrigley Field could thus mean a lot... or nothing.

Here’s a visual depiction of what the Cubs and their pursuers could do over the last two weeks, and what it would take for those teams to tie the Cubs depending on the Cubs’ record. Thanks to BCBer interbret for making this chart for me.