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The Chicago Cubs Odds of Winning the NLCS Are Daunting, But Not Uncharted Territory

Analysis and Commentary

After losing Game 4 of the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs found themselves down three games to one against the Cleveland Indians, just one loss away from elimination.


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And in addition to the difficulties of winning three straight games against a really good Indians team, two of the remaining contests were scheduled to to be played in Cleveland. Needless to say, things were looking bleak.

At the time, Brett had discovered that only about 13% of teams who’d fallen down 3-1 in the World Series over the years had ever come back to win it all. Given that the 2016 Chicago Cubs were slightly better than your average World Series team, however, their odds fell into the 15% to 17% range. Yep. That’s how unlikely things got. But I’m guessing you remember the rest.

Why do I bring that up today? Well, the 2017 Chicago Cubs have fallen down two games to none in the NLCS against the Dodgers, and the odds of advancing, well, they’re familiar territory for this team:


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FanGraphs:

NLCS: 16.9%
World Series: 7.2%

FiveThirtyEight

NLCS: 16.0%
World Series: 7.0%

ZiPS Projections

NLCS: 20%

By the first two measures, the Cubs odds of winning the NLCS are somewhere in the 16%-17% range, which is only slightly better than their odds of coming back to win the World Series last year. Do they have the same sort of magic in them again? Maybe, but it’ll be tough – especially if the offense doesn’t wake up.

According to Zips (Thanks, Dan!), the Cubs have a 1/5 shot of coming back this time around, which is obviously a bit better … but still quite daunting.


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As for the World Series odds, don’t take those numbers too seriously for now. They’re not meant to be a representation of their odds of winning the World Series if they make it there. But rather, they’re just a compounded number combining the (un)likelihood that they advance (16%-ish) with the near-coin toss of a seven-game world series against the Astros/Yankees (50%-ish).

If there’s anything to take away from these updated odds after two loses, it’s that the Cubs certainly have their work cut out for them, but it’s not uncharted territory. In fact, they’ve come back from worse as recently as last year, and back then, the stakes were much higher.

In other words, don’t count the Cubs out yet, but buckle up, because if they’re gonna do it, it’ll be wild. If you need a dose of positivity after these odds, Brett has you covered from earlier this morning.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.