There are but five games left in the season, and the Chicago Cubs have already racked up 92 losses. Those five games come against the Pirates and the Cardinals, so reaching 70 wins doesn’t seem too likely at this point.
The bottom six in the standings shake out thusly:
1. Houston Astros – 51-106
2. Miami Marlins – 58-99
3. Chicago White Sox – 62-94
4. Chicago Cubs – 65-92
5. Minnesota Twins – 66-90
6. Seattle Mariners – 68-89
I list only the bottom six, because, based on the records and the Cubs’ tiebreaker (the worse record in 2013 gets the tiebreaker – in terms of higher pick – in 2014), sixth is the lowest the Cubs can fall at this point.
That means, among other things, the Cubs are guaranteed to stay in the bottom ten by the close of the season, meaning that they will have a protected pick in 2014. For those who’ve forgotten, when a team signs a free agent who has been extended a qualifying offer (aka, the best free agents), that team loses their first round pick unless they pick in the top ten selections. For those teams – which now includes the Cubs – only a second round pick is lost. That may or may not wind up mattering to the Cubs, depending on the kind of money they’re able and willing to spend this offseason, but it’s an advantage.
As for the Cubs’ first round pick in 2014, it looks increasingly likely that it will be number four.
The White Sox have six games left, two against the Indians and four against the Royals. For the Cubs to “pass” the White Sox, they need only tie the White Sox’s record (again, thanks to the tiebreaker). If the White Sox go 3-3 over their last six, the Cubs would have to lose all five remaining games. If the White Sox go 2-4 or worse, which seems more likely, the Cubs cannot pass them.
As for “falling” out of the fourth worst spot, the Twins also have six games left, with four against the Indians, and two against the Tigers. Were they to lose all six games, the Cubs would have to lose four of their last five to tie the Twins (and thus preserve the fourth pick). If the Twins go 2-4, which seems more likely, the Cubs could win three of their final five games and still get the fourth spot.
To fall all the way to sixth, the Cubs would essentially have to win four or five of their remaining five games, and the Mariners would have to lose four or five (they’ve got two against the Royals and three against the A’s).
Taken all together, the fourth spot looks very likely for the Cubs. Third is possible, as is fifth. Sixth is the only other possibility, but it quite unlikely.