Hey, remember Scoreboard Watching?
It was one of my favorite features around here last year, as the Cubs battled to stay ahead in the Wild Card race, and then nearly pull ahead in the NL Central. With September here, I wanted to get back into it, at least so long as it is modestly interesting …
I say that because the Cubs, having won *again* yesterday, and the Cardinals having lost *again* yesterday, means the Cubs’ NL Central Magic Number is down to just 13. It is not at all implausible that the Cubs could clinch this thing by the end of the next business week. It’s not likely, because eventually they’ve gotta lose a game or two and the Cardinals have to win a game or two, but my word.
Speaking of which, the Cubs now lead the Central by 16.5 games, which is a blowout of the highest order. You can take the divisional leads in the American League, add them all up, and you still get to only 15.0 games. Add the other two NL division leads together and you get just 12.5 games.
The Cubs hold the best record in the National League – and the right to play the Wild Card Game winner in the NLDS – by 8.0 games. So, how about that NL Wild Card race? Well, this should tell you a couple things:
The Cubs currently have 87 wins on September 2.
FanGraphs projects the No. 1 NL WC slot goes to the Giants, at 87.3 wins.
— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) September 3, 2016
The things? The Cubs have probably pretty much already clinched a Wild Card spot, if it ever came to that (it won’t). And also: that race is a mess.
The plausible teams fighting for the two Wild Card spots are the Giants, the Cardinals, the Mets (2.0 back of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card), the Pirates (2.5 games back), the Marlins (3.0 games back), and the Rockies (5.5 games back). Every single one of those teams except the Rockies (who are only barely “plausibly” in the race) lost yesterday. The Cardinals are just seven games over .500, and they are currently in Wild Card position. As I said: it’s a mess.
The Giants, by the way, are still just 2.0 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, so the Dodgers, too, could wind up factoring into the Wild Card race. If the Cubs do end up playing the Wild Card winner, they’ll have the benefit of facing that team without the ability to use their top starting pitcher twice in that series.