The Chicago Cubs finish out their home slate tonight, and close out their series against the St. Louis Cardinals. While we won’t be watching the Cubs trying to clinch a playoff spot or sew up a divisional crown, there are actually some interesting things to consider about the win-loss outcome of tonight’s game. It’s been years since that was true of the final game at Wrigley Field in a given season.
Among the interesting things:
- The Cardinals can’t clinch the NL Central tonight, no matter what happens. The Cubs’ win last night, paired with the Pirates’ wins the last two nights, took that out of reach.
- Speaking of which, the Pirates are just one game back of the Cardinals in the loss column. All things equal, it would be more palatable to see the Pirates win the Central than the Cardinals. A win tonight can only help in that regard.
- (The Pirates finish with two more against the Braves, and then three against the Reds. After the Cubs, the Cardinals get the Diamondbacks, who are racing for that number one pick.)
- Something else a win tonight does? It gives the Cubs a winning record at Wrigley Field on the season. They currently stand at 40-40.
- A win would also give the Cubs a series win over the Cardinals, and take the season series to 9 wins for the Cubs, 10 wins for the Cardinals. It’s not quite even, but that would be nice and close.
- The Cubs also have a semi-arbitrary, but narratively-important goal available to them: avoiding 90 losses. With four games left, the Cubs have 88 losses. A win tonight, and the Cubs would need take only two of three from the playoff-eliminated Brewers to hold the line at 89 losses. Given that the protected draft pick is already in place, and the difference between drafting 7th and 9th in 2015 probably doesn’t have as much “value” as a positive close to the year, finishing with a sub-90-loss record feels like a great goal. As I said, it’s arbitrary, but the “story” of a 73-89 team heading into the offseason (especially one with an upward trajectory) feels like a stronger sell to prospect free agents than a 70-92 team that limped to the finish line.
- Also: the Cubs haven’t been under 90 losses since 2010.
- Tonight’s game is also the last at Wrigley Field before a significant facelift begins. Make sure to get your unobstructed photos of left field while they last. It’s all for the better, but Wrigley Field is going to look very different starting next season.