Although the Cubs have lost three of their last five, including two in a row to the woeful Phillies, things really aren’t all that bad.
Even the divisional race isn’t much more insanely out of reach than it was a few weeks ago.
If the Cubs were to sweep the Pirates this week, they’d plausibly pick up 1.5 to 2.5 games on the Cardinals, making them 5.0 or even 4.0 games out of first heading into the three-game set with the Cardinals. And then if the Cubs swept that series, they’d be just one or two games out of first. It’s really not crazy that the Cubs could come back in the Central.
It just … um, well … requires that they win seven in a row against the two best teams in baseball. OK, maybe that’s a bit much to ask.
If you disregard the divisional race, the Cubs are still looking great in the overall playoff picture. According to BP, the Cubs’ playoff odds are at 98.4%. At FanGraphs, they’re at 99.3%. The Cubs’ divisional chances are at 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively, which means their chances of winning the division are roughly the same – or slightly larger – than their chances of missing the playoffs entirely. Take from that what you will.
Speaking of the Cubs’ chances of missing the playoffs entirely, if it’s going to happen, it’s probably going to come by way of the Giants passing the Cubs. But that isn’t likely. The Giants are 7.0 games back of the Cubs, and eight in the loss column.
In his writeup to the Giants’ latest win last night, Grant Brisbee included this helpful chart, as shared by Mike Gianella:
— Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) September 15, 2015
Now, then, it’s entirely possible that the Cubs could go 6-14 to close things out, and it’s entirely possible that the Giants could go 12-6. The Cubs have a very tough schedule the rest of the way, and the Giants have a very easy schedule.
But the likelihood that both of those things happen – or a more profound version of each one – is small. Indeed, that’s what’s reflected in the Cubs’ playoff odds. Which are still enormous.
Now we see what happens this week.