Heading into this weekend’s series at Wrigley Field, the St. Louis Cardinals were not only within striking distance of the Wild Card, but they were just three games back of the Chicago Cubs at the top of the NL Central.
And, thus, heading into the weekend, the Cardinals had a 20.7% playoff chance, according to FanGraphs. Not great, but when you’ve had a down year and still have a 1 in 5 shot at the postseason in mid-September, that ain’t too shabby.
Well, after the weekend, that shot is now less than 1 in 20.
At just 4.7%, the Cardinals’ playoff odds are in relative tatters after a sweep at the hands of the Cubs. The Cardinals had a nearly 11% shot at winning the division before the weekend. Now that shot is under a single percent.
So the question is: did the Cubs just end the Cardinals’ season?
Well, by those odds, the strict answer is no, because, well, 4.7 and 0.9 are not the same thing as 0.0. But the practical answer – and certainly the clear answer if what is now expected comes to pass – is of course they did. The Cardinals came into the weekend knowing that if they took three of three, they would be right there with the Cubs. Even two of three would have closed the gap with another head-to-head series left on the slate.
But a sweep? It was a crushing blow. On the bright side for the Cardinals, their remaining games come against the terrible Reds, the terrible Pirates, and the two teams they need to pass in the NL Central. If they could take 5 of 6 against the Reds and Pirates, and sweep the Cubs and Brewers, they’d finish with 89 wins. The Cubs would have to go 5-8 in their remaining 13 games from there for the Cardinals to pass them.
Yup, that’s an extremely tall order, and it came courtesy of the Cubs’ sweep this weekend.