Quantifying Hope: Cubs Distancing Themselves from Pack NL Central Odds Race

The strange season just keeps getting stranger, with six teams out of action Friday night due to positive COVID-19 test results. The Cardinals and Brewers had the first game of their series postponed after it was revealed that a pair of Cardinals pitchers had tested positive, making them the first outside of the East divisions to lose time. They’re expected to resume play Saturday, then will participate in the league’s first 7-inning twin bill.

Fun times.

The Cubs, meanwhile, lost a game to rain but appear to be full steam ahead otherwise. Despite an ugly loss in Cincinnati on Wednesday, they remain atop the standings and continue to boost their chances to capture the division. According to Sports Betting Dime, the Cubs’ odds to win the Central have already improved, going from +235 at the start of the season to +190 as of post time.

They have likewise improved in the eyes of FanGraphs’ computer projections, pushing all the way up to 83.3% division odds with 33.3 wins. That’s 1.3 wins better than earlier in the month, which might seem insignificant in any other season. But since a week accounts for around 10% of a shortened schedule sure to produce slimmer margins, every extra win is huge.

Imagine what they could do with a bullpen.

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