Quantifying Hope: Cubs Enter Cards Series with 81% Playoff Odds

It hasn’t been a banner week for the Cubs, but their odds of capturing another NL Central banner actually improved. Even though the division leaders have gone only 4-6 in their last 10, no other team in the division went better than 5-5 in that span. Only six games separate the Central, making it easily the most competitive division in baseball.

Consider this: Three other first-place teams have a bigger lead on second than the Cubs have over Cincinnati. That makes the 76 divisional contests an absolute gantlet in the Central, as evidenced by the Cubs going 2-4 against Cincy so far.

They’ve got a chance to make hay in St. Louis, where the Cardinals are getting much less than expected from their pitching staff and Paul Goldschmidt. And with the Brewers playing either the Pirates (12) or Reds (8) in 20 of their next 34 games, there’s a chance for the top two teams in the division to really separate themselves from the pack. Or for the Brewers to fall back.

Though they’ve got just a 1/2 game lead heading into Friday’s action, the Cubs have continued to outpace their opponents when it comes to playoff odds. Milwaukee has generally trended up in May, though the Brewers have hovered around 50% for the last two weeks or so. The Cubs, on the other hand, have remained above 75% most of the month.

There will surely be a comment or three along the lines of, “Who cares, it’s not even June,” and that’s fine. The point of these weekly checks is not to provide some sort of guarantee, but to keep a running tally of where the Cubs stand and how their outlook has changed. Truth is, it really hasn’t lately.

The Dodgers continue to be the runaway favorite in the NL, with 99.8% playoff odds and 21.3% World Series win odds that are the best in baseball. Part of that is the AL being so top-heavy, more is that the Dodgers are just a really good team. Still, the Cubs are second in the league in both their playoff and World Series odds (7.5%), so they’re giving themselves a puncher’s chance.

Now just imagine what would happen to those odds if they went out and found themselves a legit bullpen addition. Mmmmm.

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