The Cubs are about to conclude their insane stretch of 30 scheduled games in 30 days. The brief respite on Thursday will no doubt be welcome.
And yet, so far, during this stretch, the Cubs have INCREASED their lead in the NL Central from 2.5 games to 3.5 games, despite the Brewers being red hot. Maybe the Cubs should just forget off-days altogether? (I kid, I kid.)
The Cubs, of course, walloped the Diamondbacks last night, and the Brewers lost to the Reds, which not only increased their divisional lead to 3.5 games (the highest mark in about two weeks), but it also moved their magic number into single digits, from 10 to 9 to 8:
The Brewers finish up with the Reds today before an off-day tomorrow. Then they’ll head out to Pittsburgh and St. Louis for three-game sets.
If you were wondering about the if-this-then-that gamesmanship the rest of the way:
For the Brewers to tie the Cubs in the NL Central, the following W-L has to happen:
Cubs 7-4, Brewers 10-0
Cubs 6-5, Brewers 9-1
Cubs 5-6, Brewers 8-2
Cubs 4-7, Brewers 7-3
Cubs 3-8, Brewers 6-4
Cubs 2-9, Brewers 5-5
Cubs 1-10, Brewers, 4-6
— Brendan Miller (@CubsRelated) September 19, 2018
And, yes, that means if the Cubs go 8-3, they clinch no matter what (hence the magic number being eight). The Cubs have put themselves in a very good position, despite a brutal schedule and being chased by the second best team in the National League.
Elsewhere in the NL, the Cardinals beat the Braves again, which has more or less assured the Cubs of the top spot in the NL (if they win the NL Central, that is). The Cardinals are vaguely hanging around in the NL Central, at 5.5 games back, but if they could get that to 3.0 games in time for the final series against the Cubs, well, obviously then they’d have a slim chance.
More likely for the Cardinals – and increasingly so after another loss by the Rockies – is the second Wild Card slot, for which they now have a 1.5-game lead. I’m already bracing for a Brewers-Cardinals Wild Card game, and then the winner facing the Cubs in the NLDS. Eeep.