Before the start of this weekend’s series against the Nationals, the Chicago Cubs’ odds of winning their division (according to FanGraphs) had taken a relatively large hit.
- Chances of winning the division: 77.2% (-5.1%)
- Chances of reaching the playoffs: 95.3% (-1.2)
- Chances of winning the World Series: 8.7% (-0.9)
Although their odds of reaching the playoffs – in one way or another – remained up over 95% (right where we like it (thanks, two Wild Card system)), their odds of winning the division had sunk to 77.2%. As we pointed out above, that was a pretty significant drop this late in the season.
But after their bajillionth and bajillionth+1 comeback on Friday and Sunday, plus some losses for the Brewers (thanks, Braves!), the Cubs’ odds have risen again to new heights. Check out these huge jumps in just three days, as of the start of play today:
- Chances of winning the division: 85.8% (+8.6%)
- Chances of reaching the playoffs: 97.0% (+1.7)
- Chances of winning the World Series: 10.3% (+1.6)
After taking two of three from the Nationals, while the Brewers dropped two of three to the Braves, in mid-August, the Cubs’ chances of winning their division shot up nearly nine percentage points. And now, their chances of reaching the postseason are all the way up to 97%. Meanwhile, their World Series odds are not exactly the best among the divisional leaders, but I’ll take over 10% in mid-August any day of the week.
Here are the updated NL Central standings as of the start of play today:
- Chicago Cubs: 68-49
- Milwaukee Brewers: 67-54 (3.0 GB)
- St. Louis Cardinals: 63-55 (5.5 GB)
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 61-58 (8.0 GB)
- Cincinnati Reds: 52-66 (16.5 GB)
Pretty, right? Especially the Brewers already having banked FIVE more losses than the Cubs.
I’d still brace yourselves for a wild stretch. Although Brett was correct in pointing out that the Cubs’ current three-game lead over the Brewers ensures that they’ll be in sole possession of first place until at least Thursday, there are a lot of divisional games remaining. At this point, it’s probably fair to rule out the Reds and Pirates from overtaking the division, but the Cubs will play the Cardinals (3) and Brewers (8) eleven more times before the end of the year. That’s plenty of time for either team, particularly the Brewers, to play catch up.
But also … things are good.
After winning their weekend series, the Cubs have improved their odds tremendously and head into this short two-game series against Milwaukee with far less to lose than the Brewers currently have. Just win one of those games and the Cubs will be sitting pretty. Sweep them, and the Brewers will have trouble sleeping. This thing is far from locked up, Cubs fans, but the team has put themselves in a very good position going forward.