I last posted upcoming schedules for the Cubs and their postseason competition just two days ago.
The Cubs have split a pair of games since then, and given that time grows ever shorter, we can probably take two teams off the list of “postseason competition.”
Unfortunately, after contending for the N.L. Central title for quite some time — and being as close as 1½ games behind the Brewers after sweeping the Giants September 6 — it’s clear that the Brewers are going to be N.L. Central champions this year. The Cubs’ elimination number for the division title is 4.
Similarly, the Cubs are now four games behind the Phillies for the top wild card spot and their elimination number for that position is 7. Thus, unless the Diamondbacks suddenly get hot and the Phillies cold, the Brewers and Phillies are going to be the N.L. hosts for wild card series beginning October 3.
The only question: Who will be their opponents? Based on standings positions as of this morning, it would be the D-backs visiting the Phillies and the Cubs taking on the Brewers in Milwaukee, and that would be quite the series, I think — especially since if that did happen, it would mean the Cubs playing at least five games in a row in Milwaukee, because they end the regular season with a three-game series there.
Here are the remaining schedules — in chronological order — for the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Marlins and Reds. At this point I think the Giants are all but eliminated. Home games in boldface.
Diamondbacks: 9 games (3 home, 6 road)
at Yankees (3), at White Sox (3), Astros (3)
This schedule could be tougher than it looks. While the Yankees are all but eliminated from postseason consideration (for the first time since 2016), they are 11-7 this month. Of course, Arizona is a bit better at 12-7.
The last three games will be very important not only for the D-backs but for the Astros. The winner of the A.L. West will get a bye in the first round. If Houston doesn’t win the division they’ll be forced to host a wild card series.
Cubs: 10 games (4 home, 6 road)
Pirates (1), Rockies (3), at Braves (3), at Brewers (3)
The games vs. Colorado take on outsize importance, and the Rox have been just awful on the road this year (22-56), and have lost their last seven road games.
The Cubs have played well in Milwaukee so far this year, splitting four games, and took two of three from the Braves at Wrigley in August.
They likely have to sweep the rest of their home games and split their road games to make the postseason, especially because they don’t have the tiebreaker against any of the other teams listed here. Thus they’ll have to finish at least one game ahead of the teams behind them to make it.
Marlins: 9 games (3 home, 6 road)
Brewers (3), at Mets (3), at Pirates (3)
The Cubs are now in a position where they hope the Brewers take at least two of three in Miami. The Brewers took three of four from the Marlins in Milwaukee last week.
The Mets are 7-3 against the Marlins so far this year, and the Marlins are 35-40 on the road, compared to 44-34 at home.
Reds: 8 games (3 home, 5 road)
Pirates (3), at Guardians (2), at Cardinals (3)
This schedule appears “easy,” but...
First, the Reds have only eight games left and the Cubs lead them by two in the loss column.
On the other hand, the Reds have been better on the road (42-34) than at home (37-41). So... after the Cubs (hopefully) take care of the Pirates tonight, let them take care of the Reds in Cincinnati starting tomorrow.
The Reds and Cardinals have split 10 games so far this year.
Lastly, I wanted to say a bit about the American League playoff race, which is even tighter than the one in the N.L. As of Thursday morning, the Astros led the A.L. West with an 85-68 record, but the Mariners and Rangers are both only half a game behind at 84-68 and the Blue Jays are 85-67. Three of those teams will make the postseason and one will stay home. Of the three A.L. West teams, one will win the division, and either one or two could be wild cards, depending on how the Blue Jays finish.
The tiebreaker scenarios are complicated, so if you’re interested I suggest you read this comprehensive overview of the current tiebreakers.
Who will win the A.L. West?
This poll is closed