I’ve been posting these updates once a week, but now with just 10 days left in the 2020 sprint of a 60-game season, things have changed a bit for the Cubs.
The Reds have won five in a row and have taken over second place in the NL Central from the Cardinals, who have dropped seven of their last 10 and now stand outside the eight-team NL playoff field. Here are the Cubs’ magic numbers as of Friday morning:
Here are the remaining games for the Cubs, Reds and Cardinals. Home games in boldface.
Cubs, 10 games (3 home, 7 road)
Twins (3), at Pirates (4), at White Sox (3)
Reds, 9 games (6 home, 3 road)
White Sox (3), Brewers (3), at Twins (3)
Cardinals, 12 games (5 home, 7 road)
at Pirates (4), at Royals (3), Brewers (5)
The Cubs don’t have an easy road, playing two AL Central contenders. You’d think the Pirates would be an easy mark, but they defeated the Cardinals Thursday (thanks!) and have played reasonably well at home (10-14), so the Cubs should not take those games for granted. The Reds have to play the same two AL Central contenders the Cubs do. The Cardinals face the Royals, who they’ve already defeated two of three, and then face a Brewers team that could be eliminated by next weekend. St. Louis has to do that with am already-depleted pitching staff, though, and now they might have lost Dakota Hudson, too.
If I had to guess right now, I’d say the Reds will finish second in the NL Central and take the No. 6 postseason seed.
Speaking of which, here would be the postseason matchups if the season had ended following Thursday’s games:
Interestingly, all four of those matchups would be between teams that have not faced each other this year. The Padres theoretically have a chance to catch the Dodgers, 3½ games behind with nine left, but those teams don’t play each other again. The Dodgers have clinched a playoff spot.
Also of interest: The Cubs have moved ahead of the Braves for the No. 2 seed by a game, with 10 games remaining for each team. If they wind up tied, the tiebreaker would be the teams’ record within their division. The Cubs are currently 21-15 within the NL Central with four games remaining vs. divisional foes, all against the Pirates. The Braves are 19-14 within the NL East with seven games remaining within their division, three at the Mets this weekend, then hosting the Marlins for four. The Braves are 5-2 vs. the Mets so far this year and have split six games with the Marlins. Atlanta finishes their season with three games vs. the Red Sox at home.
The White Sox and Rays have clinched playoff berths, but as you can see, there’s still room for quite a bit of movement up and down the seeding list for the AL.
Just one of those matchups (Astros/A’s) is between teams that have faced each other previously this year.
And Twins fans would groan if they had to face the Yankees in a postseason series, even if all the games are at Target Field. Since 2003 those two teams have met five times in a division series. The Yankees won all five and the Twins won only two of the 17 games played. Beyond that, in the same time frame (2003-now) the Twins are 35-81 against the Yankees in regular-season play.
That’s where the Cubs and other teams stand for postseason positioning entering Friday’s games. I’ll post another update Monday.