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The Cubs’ postseason hopes are on life support. Here’s what they need to do to get in

Full details on what is a difficult, but not impossible, task.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Braves dealt a serious blow to the Cubs’ postseason chances by sweeping the three-game series in Atlanta this week.

The Cubs aren’t out yet, though, and while they will have to, you know, start winning games as well as have some help, here is the way they can get in — even without the tiebreaker over the Marlins.

The Cubs are 82-77. They stand one game ahead of the Reds (81-78), and will have to remain there as well as pass the Marlins, because the Cubs don’t have the tiebreaker there either.

The Marlins stand at 82-76, with Thursday night’s game against the Mets standing suspended with two out in the top of the ninth and Miami leading 2-1. It will be resumed Monday at 1:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field, because of MLB Rule 7.02 (a)(5):

A suspended game shall be resumed and completed as follows:

Weather, if the game is called before it is a regulation game, or if a regulation game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead, and the home team has not retaken the lead.

The Cubs’ best chance to get in is to sweep the Brewers and finish 85-77. If that happens, the Marlins would have to lose two of three to the Pirates in Pittsburgh, which would give them 78 losses. At that point I’d guess MLB would simply cancel the resumption of the suspended game. Or, the Marlins could lose one game in Pittsburgh and go back to New York and lose the suspended game, which would put the Cubs in.

One other possibility for the Cubs would be to take two of three in Milwaukee while the Marlins get swept in Pittsburgh. If that happens, again, MLB would likely cancel the resumption of the suspended game, since the Cubs would be 84-78 while the Marlins would have 79 losses. This also assumes the Reds lose at least one to the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Last chance: The Cubs win one of three and finish 83-79. If the Pirates then sweep the Marlins, Miami would be 82-79 pending the outcome of the suspended game, which would then have to be finished. And, the Reds would have to lose two of three to the Cardinals in this scenario.

Hope that clarifies things.

Here’s the schedule and pitching matchups for the Cubs, Marlins and Reds this weekend.


5:35 CT: Marlins at Pirates. Pitchers TBD
7:10 CT: Cubs at Brewers. Kyle Hendricks vs. Colin Rea
7:15 CT: Reds at Cardinals. Brandon Williamson vs. Jake Woodford


5:35 CT: Marlins at Pirates. Pitchers TBD
6:10 CT: Cubs at Brewers. Jordan Wicks vs. TBD
6:15 CT: Reds at Cardinals. Connor Phillips vs. Drew Rom


2:05 CT: Marlins at Pirates. Pitchers TBD
2:10 CT: Cubs at Brewers. Justin Steele vs. Adrian Houser
2:15 CT: Reds at Cardinals. Hunter Greene vs. Miles Mikolas

Maybe it’s just my optimistic side showing through, but I think the Cubs actually do have a pretty good chance to still get in. The Brewers have already clinched the N.L. Central and the No. 3 seed, so they are resting their three best pitchers (Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta). The Cubs have pitchers going who have either been very good overall, good in Milwaukee, or both. The teams have split 10 games so far this year, and also split a four-game set in Milwaukee in July — and the two games the Cubs lost, they had very good chances to win.

The Marlins took three of four from the Pirates in Miami in June, but that was at a time the Pirates were in free fall. Pittsburgh is 13-11 in September and has won nine of their last 15. The Marlins are 36-41 on the road.

As for the Reds, who are still in it but even closer to elimination than the Cubs, they have split 10 games against the Cardinals so far in 2023, but lost two of three to them in Cincinnati earlier this month. On the other hand, the Reds are a better road team (43-35) than home team (38-43) this year.

Ready? Do the Cubs have a miracle finish in them?

As always, we await developments.


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