Losing again yesterday sets up an interesting conundrum for the Cubs. Now 5.5 games back of the Pirates with just 8 games left to play (7 for the Pirates), catching Pittsburgh is nearly impossible. Even if the Cubs win every single game they have left, odds are strong they won’t catch up.
What, then, of Jake Arrieta’s start tonight? Surely you don’t skip him or bump him entirely, but do you maybe keep it short? Keep it fastball-heavy? Keep it very simple?
There’s also a conundrum for Cubs fans: the best, realistic outcome for this final week is that the Pirates catch the Cardinals, tie them atop the Central, and force a one-game playoff for the divisional crown. The loser would then have to play the Cubs fresh off a must-win-type game. Speaking as a Cubs fan, I would very, very much like to see that happen. Alternatively, the Pirates could even pass the Cardinals, rather than tie them, and I think that would be good for the Cubs, too. The Cardinals look like a much, much more attractive one-game opponent for the Cubs than the Pirates.
Thus … I think I want the Pirates to win today. Label me a monster, but the Cubs’ playoff position is now set. I don’t think the extremely remote chance of the Cubs managing to tie the Pirates by the end of the year is realistic enough to root for it at the expense of the Pirates catching the Cardinals, which really could happen.
The Cardinals also won yesterday, and their lead over the Pirates is a healthy 3.0 games. However, starting tomorrow, the Cardinals and Pirates play each other for three games in Pittsburgh. The Pirates can totally catch them.
… which then makes me start to think about the Pirates’ remaining games, and I wonder if it would be possible for the Cubs to catch them. Say the Pirates got swept by the Cardinals after losing to the Cubs today, and the Cubs, in the interim, beat the Royals and then swept the Reds. That’s all possible, though remote. That would put the Cubs 1.0 game back of the Pirates heading into the final series of the year, when the Cubs play the Brewers and the Pirates play the Reds.
Eh, on the balance, I come back to what I said above. I would have loved to have seen the Cubs get the Wild Card Game at home, but I think the losses the last two days sunk those chances. I’d rather see the Pirates come back to tie the Cardinals, which would be great for the Cubs. Thus, I think I’d like to see the Pirates win tonight.
Have at me.