Rain delays don’t only come along to help the Cubs in the World Series.
The Brewers got a gift of a rain delay last night against the Pirates, whom they were trailing 3-1 thanks to a successful outing from Pirates starter Ivan Nova. But then the rains came in the middle innings, Nova’s night was over, and the Brewers came out and destroyed the Pirates’ bullpen for a comfortable win.
Coupled with the Cubs’ loss to the White Sox, the gap in the NL Central is once again down to just a game and a half (two games in the loss column). The nervousness has crept back in.
To be sure, it is all but mathematically impossible for the Cubs to miss the playoffs entirely at this point. They have a theoretical 6.0-game lead over the Rockies for the second Wild Card spot (if the Brewers and Cardinals both passed them). Even if the Cubs lost every single one of their remaining nine games, the Rockies would have to go 7-2 to pass them. Since there is no way the Cubs will lose every single one of their remaining nine games, I am comfortable saying they are going to be in the playoffs in some way.
But … I mean, obviously you want to avoid the Wild Card Game. So it comes back to that NL Central magic number of eight. The Cubs are going to need to win some games, because the Brewers’ schedule the rest of the way is at least as cozy as the Cubs’.
If the Cubs are going to get an assist in this Pirates series, though, you figure it could be today. The Brewers will be facing Trevor Williams, who has pitched liked the best pitcher in the NL (non-Jacob-deGrom division) in the second half.