Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

wrigley scoreboard featureThe Cubs have won 17 of their last 21 at Wrigley Field, including the three-game sweep over the Diamondbacks that concluded yesterday. The Cubs are also 5-2 since they lost four in a row in San Francisco and L.A. This team just seems to bounce back every time.

Now they head to St. Louis for a huge series. More on that in a bit. For now, those Cardinals are coming off of a series loss to the Pirates, capped by last night’s 7-1 defeat. Their lead in the Central is still significant, though, at 5.5 games over the Pirates and 8.5 games over the Cubs. You’ll see me say it again when it is Series Preview time, but if the Cubs want any shot at a miracle comeback in the division, it’s going to take a sweep in St. Louis. Obviously that’s a steep ask. The Pirates helped a little this weekend, but the Cubs will have to do most of their own dirty work.

In turn, then, the Cubs remain 3.0 games behind the Pirates for the top Wild Card spot. A four-game set in St. Louis looms next week.

The Nationals kept their hot streak going, beating the Braves and staying 7.5 games behind the Cubs for that second Wild Card spot. The Mets lost to the Marlins, so the Nats are now just 4.0 games behind the Mets in the East, which is probably their only realistic avenue to the playoffs. Consider that the Mets and Nats play each other six more times, which is going to make it very difficult for the second of those two teams to pass the Cubs.

Out West, the Dodgers won again and the Giants did, as well. The Dodgers are still up 7.5 games there, and the Giants are still 8.0 games behind the Cubs.

The Cubs’ magic number dropped to 20 (with respect to the Nationals; 19 with respect to the Giants). They’re about to eliminate their first team from the Wild Card race – with a Phillies loss or a Cubs win, they’ll be officially eliminated from the Wild Card race. Fun, eh?

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