The Chicago Cubs lost again last night (their third in a row), bringing their season-record to 83-60 with just 19 games left. Sadly, that loss came at the hands of the Brewers (their fourth straight win) on a night when the Cardinals also won their second straight game.
And as you can imagine, that’s been a total nightmare for the standings:
- Chicago Cubs: 83-60
- Milwaukee Brewers: 83-62, 1.0 GB
- St. Louis Cardinals: 80-64, 3.5 GB
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 71-72, 12.0 GB
- Cincinnati Reds: 62-83, 22.0 GB
The Cubs are now tied in the win column with the Brewers, with just a two-game lead in the loss column. That means that with another loss tonight, they could be tied for first, despite a 5.0-GAME LEAD on September 2nd (their biggest lead of the year). And if the Cardinals also win again? Well, let’s just say the Cubs would still have to fight to make sure the Wild Card game was at Wrigley Field.
Of course, according to FanGraphs, the Cubs odds of making the playoffs remains sufficiently high (99.7%) that we should get to see at least one October game this season. But it’s worth pointing out that their chances of winning the division have dropped down to 71.4%. Meanwhile, the Brewers’ odds of taking the division have risen to 25.7%. That’s a 1 in 4 chance … on September 11th. I just don’t love it.
Ultimately, the Cubs desperately need to one one of the next two games, and preferably both. If they manage to win-out this series, I would feel very confident that the NL Central is theirs for the taking, but anything less will make every game a challenge the rest of the way. If they get swept, well … let’s just cross that rickety bridge only if we have to.
And if “common sense” doesn’t prevail on Thursday (as Theo Epstein hopes), the Cubs will be forced to go from August 20th – September 20th without a single scheduled day off … and then play 10 straight before the end of the regular season. It just doesn’t look great with two more losses against the Brewers, so maybe just win tonight, eh?