This past weekend, Cubs fans had a dilemma, as I explained in this article. We were going to have to root for either the Brewers or Cardinals to win, since the Cubs needed to gain ground on both teams and they were playing each other.
With the Cubs’ sweep of the Pirates, that series turned out pretty well. The Brewers took two of three, which helped the Cubs cut St. Louis’ division lead in half, from four games to two. The Cubs maintained a one-game lead over Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot.
Now, we are in a similar predicament as the Cardinals will take on the Nationals in St. Louis in a three-game series beginning tonight, just before the Cards come to Wrigley Field for a four-game set that starts Thursday evening.
This one has much more clarity, in my opinion. While it would be nice for the Cubs to catch the Nats for the top wild-card spot, it would be far better for the Cubs to catch the Cards for the division lead. Thus, assuming the Cubs again take care of business against the Reds at Wrigley Field beginning Monday evening, the best scenario in St. Louis would be for the Nats to sweep the Cards. If that happens, the Cubs could take over first place in the N.L. Central by sweeping the Reds.
Potential good news for the Cubs: The Cardinals will have to face Washington’s three best pitchers in this series: Stephen Strasburg (Monday), Patrick Corbin (Tuesday) and Max Scherzer (Wednesday).
We can dream, right?
Now let’s take a look at the remaining schedules for the N.L. Central contenders. Games are listed in chronological order, home games in boldface.
Cubs: 13 games (7 home, 6 road)
vs. Reds (3), vs. Cardinals (4), at Pirates (3), at Cardinals (3)
The Cubs have played well all year at home. They’re 50-24 at Wrigley Field, the 20th time in franchise history they have won 50 or more at home, and the third time in the last four seasons. And, they’ll get to face that Pirates pitching staff they demolished all weekend three more times, next week in Pittsburgh.
Cardinals: 13 games (6 home, 7 road)
vs. Nationals (3), at Cubs (4), at Diamondbacks (3), Cubs (3)
Like the Cubs, the Cardinals have had a tough time on the road this year (36-38 so far). The series at Wrigley against the Cubs, obviously, is key for both teams. The D-backs might be eliminated from postseason contention by the time the Cardinals get there, but Arizona has a winning (37-35) mark at Chase Field.
Brewers, 13 games (7 home, 6 road)
vs. Padres (4), vs. Pirates (3), at Reds (3), at Rockies (3)
Milwaukee doesn’t play a team with a winning record the rest of the year, and that could be good news for them. Starting Monday evening they will host the Padres in a four-game series. San Diego just got swept at Colorado. Then the Brewers get to face that same Pirates pitching staff the Cubs just pounded.
But after that, the Brewers finish on the road at Cincinnati, where the Reds have a 40-35 record at Great American Ball Park, and at Colorado, where the Rockies always play well (39-36 so far in 2019). Just ask the Cardinals about that — they lost two of three at Coors Field just last week.
Also, in case you’re wondering about the Cubs’ chances to catch the Nats for the top wild-card spot, here’s their remaining schedule:
Nationals, 14 games (8 home, 6 road)
at Cardinals (3), at Marlins (3), Phillies (5), Indians (3)
The Marlins could be a 100-loss team by the time the Nats play them, so that’s no help. Washington has a doubleheader vs. the Phillies in that five-game series, which could tax their pitching staff. Then they wrap things up against the Indians, who are likely going to be fighting for their own playoff life in that set.
Two weeks to go in the 2019 regular season. Looks like it’s shaping up as quite a finish.
Assuming the Cubs sweep the Reds this week, which of these Nationals/Cardinals results would be best?
This poll is closed
Nationals take two of three
Cardinals take two of three