Hey, the Nationals won a game!
With the Cubs beating the Reds last night, though, the magic number for the Cubs to clinch the best record in the NL, and the top playoff seed, is down to two. By the end of this weekend’s series against the Cardinals, the Cubs figure to have that baby locked down.
Meanwhile, the other division leaders – those Nationals and the Dodgers – have magic numbers of two and five, respectively, which means they’re quickly approaching the point where they’re going to be able to really start resting guys in advance of the playoffs more regularly. It’s been a rather unglamorous year for divisional races in the NL, with the East and the Central basically decided by July, and the West having been mostly decided by early September.
The Wild Card race in the NL, on the other hand, is also unglamorous, but for entirely different reasons:
Giants: "I am not interested in a Wild Card spot, thank you."
Mets: "I am also not interested."
Cardinals: *chews on eraser*
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) September 22, 2016
That’s about the size of things, with each of those three teams losing again last night, and remaining in a three-team tie atop the Wild Card standings. Perhaps each will lose the final 10 games of the year, thus preserving the tie, and yielding a whacky, but desirable, tiebreaker scenario.
Of course, it’s highly unlikely that the tie remains in place by the final day of the season, but it’s not impossible. Either way, it’s looking like whichever team the Cubs face in the NLDS is not going to be riding high on a multi-week hot streak. Each of the three teams is deeply flawed, as well, which of course means that the historically good Cubs will be swept in three games.