Last night, the Cubs lost to the Diamondbacks in gloriously burning fashion (a one-hit shutout, in which their best starter at the moment, Cole Hamels, gave up 7 earned runs over 6.0 innings pitched), but they still won their last two series at the end of this monstrous 30-game stretch and that’s really impressive. Some might call the stretch incredible.
Unfortunately, those pesky Brewers won their game against the Reds 7-0 last night, which is keeping them in this contest for at least a little while longer. They’ve now won six of their past ten games, and while they have an elimination number of just 8, they’re only 2.5 games out. There’s still time for them to come back, even if it would be challenging.
In fact, here’s a graphic of every single way the rest of the season could play out, and what each team would need to do if the other won a certain number of games:
Obviously, if the Cubs win 8 or more games, they clinch no matter what happens to the Brewers. But, as soon as they drift to 7 wins and fewer, they’ll need an assist from Milwaukee to win the division. There’s also the possibility of a tie, as the light blue squares represent. In that case, the teams will play a one-game playoff at Wrigley Field (because the Cubs won the seasons series 11-8, they get home field in a hypothetical tiebreaker). But I suppose we’ll just take this one game at a time and see what happens.
The Brewers and the Cubs are off tonight, by the way, so nothing will change for at least a day.
The Cardinals lost again last night, and they’re now 5.5 games out of first with an elimination number of 5. They really only need to get themselves within 3.0 games of the Cubs by the final series of the year, but it’ll be challenging to get there. And even at that point, the Cubs would still have to be swept to lose their hold on the division. Oh, and the Brewers also would have had to fall behind the Cardinals. So.
No, instead, I suspect the Cardinals are focusing on their tenuous 1.5 game grasp on the second Wild Card spot over the Rockies. That race has essentially become just a 3-team skirmish, because the Phillies and Diamondbacks (no thanks to the Cubs) are more or less out of it (5.0 games back).
And finally, after another win last night, the Dodgers have taken a 2.5 game lead in the NL West, and their magic number, like the Cubs, is down to 8.
Pretty exciting season, eh?