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An updated look at 2020 postseason matchups and remaining schedules

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It’s going to be one wild weekend.

The Cubs are No. 1... hopefully they still will be after Sunday
Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

We enter the final weekend of the 60-game sprint of a 2020 regular MLB season with a lot still up in the air as far as postseason position, especially for the Cubs.

The Cubs still lead the NL Central by 2½ games entering Friday’s action with a magic number of 3. Thus, they can win the division outright if they sweep the White Sox this weekend regardless of anything the Cardinals do (the Reds and Brewers have been eliminated from the division race, though both still have a chance at a postseason spot).

I’m pretty sure you agree with me that a Cubs sweep is very unlikely this weekend, as nice as that would be.

Here are the remaining schedules for the four contenders in the NL Central:

Cubs at White Sox (three games)

Brewers at Cardinals (four games)

Reds at Twins (three games)

As Cubs fans, we’d have to root for the Brewers to take as many of those four games as possible, since Milwaukee is already eliminated from the division title race. The Brewers also still have a shot at one of the wild cards, so they’ll need no extra motivation this weekend. Milwaukee and St. Louis have a doubleheader Friday, then single games Saturday and Sunday.

The Reds also still have a chance for a wild-card spot, but they will have to do that by defeating the Twins, who now occupy first place in the AL Central. That won’t be easy. That three-game series is at Target Field and the Twins are 23-5 at home so far this season. Minnesota leads the White Sox by one game and the Indians by two games in the AL Central. They’ll have their own motivation to win, as the Twins, White Sox and Indians (who have all qualified for the October tournament) could all finish in any of these seeds in the AL: second, third, fourth, fifth or seventh. (The sixth AL seed belongs to the second-place finisher in the West, currently the Astros, whose magic number to clinch that spot is one.)

The Cubs still have an outside shot at the No. 2 seed in the NL, but they would have to sweep the White Sox and the Braves would have to be swept by the Red Sox this weekend, as Atlanta holds the tiebreaker and they lead the Cubs by two games. The Red Sox are having a miserable season and the games are in Atlanta, where the Braves are 18-9 so far this year. The Cubs’ main focus this weekend, then, would be winning the division so they can host the wild-card series next week as the No. 3 seed.

Here are the postseason matchups as they stand through Thursday’s games:

NATIONAL LEAGUE

#8 Giants (28-28) at #1 Dodgers (40-17)
#7 Reds (29-28) at #2 Braves (34-23)
#6 Marlins (29-28) at #3 Cubs (32-25)
#5 Cardinals (28-26) at #4 Padres (34-22)

The matchup I really want to see in the first round is Reds vs. Dodgers. The Dodgers have good hitting and pitching but if they have to see Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray... there’s a possible upset. The Reds are a tough matchup for anyone, and they’re hot: 9-2 since September 13.

Don Mattingly has done an excellent job with a mainly-anonymous Marlins team, especially with a mostly young pitching staff. Former Cub Brandon Kintzler has been solid as their closer.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

#8 Blue Jays (30-27) at #1 Rays (37-20)
#7 Indians (33-24) at #2 Twins (35-22)
#6 Astros (29-28) at #3 Athletics (34-22)
#5 Yankees (32-25) at #4 White Sox (34-23)

The Twins have strong motivation to avoid the Yankees in a first-round series. Those two teams have met five times in a Division Series since 2003. The Yankees have won all five series and won 15 of the 17 games played. But as I noted above, the three AL Central teams could move up and down this ladder quite a bit this weekend. The Rays and A’s have clinched division titles. Three of these four matchups, if they happen that way, are between teams that have already played each other 10 times this season.

It’s going to be a crazy weekend in MLB. Fasten your seat belts.

Poll

Will the Cubs win the NL Central?

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  • 75%
    Yes
    (319 votes)
  • 24%
    No
    (103 votes)
422 votes total Vote Now