Scoreboard Watching: Cubs Closing In, But So Are the Brewers

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Scoreboard Watching: Cubs Closing In, But So Are the Brewers

Chicago Cubs

The good news is that with their win last night, the Cubs have gone on a five-game winning streak at exactly the right time: Because while they’ve been on a pretty darn nice stretch since the end of the series in San Diego, the Brewers have been going off for their last ten games (9-1), even without Christian Yelich.

Indeed, their 5-1 win over the Padres last night didn’t help the Cubs the way a Brewers win did over the weekend (they were playing the Cardinals, so a loss from either team was going to be a good thing), and altogether, that’s kept them within 1.0 game of the Cubs in the Wild Card race and NL Central.

Speaking of the NL Central, the Cardinals also won last night, which keeps the Cubs at 2.0 games back, which actually isn’t a terrible distance with so many head-to-head matchups remaining (and where they were a week ago), though you obviously hope that gap narrows further before the big series begins this Thursday.

NL Central Standings:

  1. Cardinals (84-66):
  2. Cubs (82-68): 2.0 GB
  3. Brewers (81-69): 3.0 GB
  4. Reds: eliminated
  5. Pirates: eliminated

In the division, the Brewers have an elimination number of 10 and the Cubs have an elimination number of 11. Things are extremely tight, but again, with seven games left against St. Louis, the Cubs could still pull ahead. Of course, the Brewers are so close that if they keep winning and the Cubs and Cardinals split, they could see a realistic path to first place (shudders) for themselves.

But that’s not all that happened last night. The Cardinals may have won, but at least their win came against perhaps the only other team that matters to the Cubs right now: the Nationals. With their loss to the Cardinals, the Nationals’ lead for the first Wild Card spot has slipped to just a half-game over the Cubs and 1.0 game over the Brewers.

Wild Card Race: 

  1. Nats (82-67):
  2. Cubs (82-68): 0.5 GB
  3. Brewers (81-69): 1.0 GB

And although the Phillies, Mets, and Diamondbacks haven’t been eliminated from this race just yet, they’re now each at least 5.0 games out of the second WC spot, which is enough to basically end their season at this point in the year (the Cubs and Brewers’ winning streaks really made some separation).

But here’s the thing: While I may want the Cubs to get into the tournament by any means necessary (the Wild Card game, for example), winning the division is FAR more important than getting to play a one-game playoff, even at Wrigley Field. The damage that would do to their chances in the NLDS without a fully effective starting rotation (at the moment) to rely on is tremendous (you’d have to burn Yu Darvish or Kyle Hendricks in a one-game playoff and hope that the rest of the rotation would step back up for the big series).

So while the declining gap between the Cubs and Nationals is nice, I’d rather the Nationals stomp all over St. Louis this week, before handing them off to the Cubs this weekend.

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Author: Michael Cerami

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