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Who Needs Odds, Anyway?

Chicago Cubs


The last time I checked in on the Cubs odds of winning the World Series, things were grand.

The Cubs, having evened the series with a big Game 2 win in Cleveland, were heavily favorited to win the whole thing (nearly 2 to 1), and I think we all felt pretty good.

Unfortunately, the Cubs immediately dropped their first two at Wrigley Field to Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber … and, well, things were suddenly bleak. Odds, right?

But the Cubs won a real nail-biter Sunday night (thank you, Aroldis Chapman), which means things have shifted once again. But before you scroll further down, I’ll caution you not to expect a comforting number. The Cubs, after all, are down three games to two heading back to Cleveland to take on two pitchers (Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber) that have dominated this lineup a total of three times in just five games.

That said, things do look better than they did.

After a Game 4 loss at Wrigley Field, the Cubs’ odds had dropped all the way down to somewhere in the 15% to 19% range (FiveThirtyEight on the low end, FanGraphs in the middle, and ESPN (ZiPS) on the optimistic side). Throughout history, only 13% of teams in the Cubs’ position had ever come back to win the whole thing, so the Cubs were thought to be a bit better than most. Still, an enviable position that was not.

Then the Cubs won Game Five of the World Series in Chicago, narrowing the series deficit 3-2.

To win the the whole thing, the Cubs will be forced to take two straight games on the road, but they’ve done that plenty of times before. The odds … are just a little bit better.

  • At FanGraphs, the odds have the Cubs at 30.9% to win the series.
  • At FiveThirtyEight, the odds have the Cubs at 24% to win the series.
  • At ESPN, the ZiPS projection odds have the Cubs at 28.7% to win the series.

So, the Cubs have somewhere between a one in four, to a one in three chance of sweeping both games in Cleveland and making history on the road. It would be a storybook ending to a story that began … in April? In 2015? In 2011? In 1908? But it is an ending that remains possible.

The Cubs have their work cut out for them, undoubtedly, but we need to continue taking this one game at a time. The first one starts tonight at 7:00 CT and comes against a supposedly beatable pitcher in Josh Tomlin. My heart is racing just thinking about it.

Given the option, the Indians would not trade places with the Cubs, but the other 28 teams across baseball certainly would.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami