The Cubs looked utterly lost against Sonny Gray and the Reds through the first three innings of Thursday’s soggy affair before busting out for a 5-spot in the 4th that put them ahead for good. The win was huge because it came off of a shutout loss and gave the Cubs a series victory that kept the Cardinals at arm’s length and further buried the Reds.
With just one quarter of the season left to play, the Cubs now boast 99.2% playoff odds and continue to distance themselves from the bottom of the division. The Cardinals remain pesky foes and have seen their own odds increase by just over 10 points in the last week, but the Reds have plummeted and are now below 20% even after buying last winter and at the trade deadline.
The Brewers are still hanging around and still have a shot at the back end of the playoff pool, so the Cubs can deal them a blow this weekend. At just 19-22, Milwaukee currently sits two games behind the Giants for the final spot. Those two teams are tied in the loss column, though, so a few losses by the Crew would really put them up against it.
The Cardinals host the Reds for three games over the weekend in a series that could either ruin Cincy or breathe new life into their chances. Then things really get interesting starting Monday as the Cards head to Milwaukee for five games in three days. Doubleheaders on Monday and Wednesday mean the standings could change dramatically, so keep an eye on those results.
These next three games represent the Cubs’ last duels with a competitive team from their own division, since they face the Indians, Twins, and White Sox for eight of their final 12 games. The Pirates host them for four more and we’ve seen how Pittsburgh can be feisty, but they shouldn’t present a stiff challenge.
It’s really pretty simple for the Cubs at this point: Just stack W’s and they’re in. What they do once they get to the postseason, well, that’s a little less clear. The rotation has myriad issues and the offense disappears for games at a time, but at least the bullpen is doing well lately.
Hey, maybe everything will coalesce as of September 27.