Just three weeks remain in the 2019 MLB regular season. (And where did that time go?)
Three weeks ago, the Cubs were tied for first place and in the middle of a five-game winning streak. Since then, they’ve gone 10-8, which isn’t terrible, but when the team they’re chasing, the Cardinals, has gone 16-5... you see the problem here, I trust.
There are several possible outcomes to this season for the Cubs, most of which involve them heading to the postseason. Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for the Cubs and the teams closest to them in the division and wild-card standings, in chronological order. Home games in boldface.
Cubs: 20 games remaining (10 home, 10 road)
at Padres (4), Pirates (3), Reds (3), Cardinals (4), at Pirates (3), at Cardinals (3)
Cardinals: 19 games remaining (9 home, 10 road)
at Rockies (3), Brewers (3), Nationals (3), at Cubs (4), at Diamondbacks (3), Cubs (3)
Brewers: 20 games remaining (7 home, 13 road)
at Marlins (4), at Cardinals (3), Padres (4), Pirates (3), at Reds (3), at Rockies (3)
Nationals: 20 games remaining (11 home, 9 road)
at Twins (3), Braves (3), at Cardinals (3), at Marlins (3), Phillies (5), Indians (3)
Diamondbacks: 19 games remaining (12 home, 7 road)
at Mets (4), Reds (3), Marlins (3), at Padres (3), Cardinals (3), Padres (3)
Phillies: 20 games remaining (9 home, 10 road)
Braves (4), Red Sox (2), at Braves (3), at Indians (3), at Nationals (5), Marlins (3)
At first glance, it would appear the Cubs have a real advantage here. They are the only team among these five with a homestand longer than eight games, and the Cubs have played well at home. They’ll likely have to win eight of the 10 home games, and against the teams they face in that final homestand they are 14-4 in home games so far this season (6-0 vs. Cardinals, 5-1 vs. Pirates, 3-3 vs. Reds). And, they’d have to probably split the 10 road games remaining as well.
Also, as has been mentioned many times, even with a current 4½-game deficit in the N.L. Central, with seven games remaining against the Cardinals the Cubs can still determine their own destiny in the division. If the Cubs can make up two or more games of that deficit over the 10 games they’ll play before they meet St. Louis at Wrigley September 19, that becomes much more doable.
The Cardinals have just one series remaining against a non-contender, three games at Colorado beginning Tuesday. They still have to face the Nats, Brewers and D-backs in addition to the seven with the Cubs. St. Louis has been incredibly hot lately, but they have played only six games against a team with a winning record over their last 30 games (Brewers; they went 4-2).
The Brewers have that “easy” schedule coming up, as the three games against the Cardinals are the only games they have remaining against a team with a winning record. But Milwaukee has just seven home games left, and they are 31-37 away from Miller Park.
Washington’s schedule is the reverse of Milwaukee’s. They have just one series remaining (three vs. the Marlins) against a non-contending team, and have a makeup doubleheader against the Phillies (in Washington) in the season’s last week. It’s still possible for the Cubs to catch them for the top wild-card spot (Cubs trail by three), but they would need to pass the Nats to claim it, as Washington has the tiebreaker (winning the season series).
The Diamondbacks would seem to also have an “easy” schedule, as the Cardinals are the only team remaining on their schedule with a winning record. Arizona trails the Cubs by 1½ games for the second wild card. This could produce a dilemma when the D-backs play the Cardinals: Which team would you want to win? It would depend on where the Cubs are in the standings at the time.
The Phillies are currently tied with the Brewers; both trail the Cubs by two games for the second wild card. They have a rough ride coming up, with their next 17 games all against teams with winning records and 14 of those against contenders. They’ve got that previously-mentioned doubleheader against the Nats, too.
The six teams noted in this post are competing for three postseason spots (N.L. Central title and both wild-card spots). Three will head to October baseball and the other three head home for the winter. Will the Cubs make it to the postseason for the fifth straight year?
The Cubs will finish the 2019 regular season...
This poll is closed
... as the N.L. Central champion
... as the first wild card team
... as the second wild card team
... out of the postseason