After a largely disappointing 10-game stretch, and with the Pirates and Rockies now coming into town this week for what should be a favorable homestand, the Cubs are hoping to quickly turn the page and get back to taking care of business.
Entering Tuesday, the Cubs are 78-72. They’ve lost five straight games and eight of their last 10 as they’ve lost their grasp on a National League Wild Card spot. Still, 12 games remain on the Cubs’ schedule, and we’ve seen this group respond to adversity all season. They’ll need to figure out how to turn things around quickly, but they’ve also shown everyone why they shouldn’t be counted out just yet.
Here is CHGO’s daily update on the Cubs’ postseason hopes and where things stand with the rest of the playoff contenders.
Entering Tuesday, the Cubs seem to be all but out of the race in the NL Central. Despite the Brewers’ loss to the Cardinals on Monday, the Cubs are still six games back with just 12 to play. A lot would have to go right for them to take the division crown.
So, it’s probably more worth looking at the Wild Card standings at this point in the season. The good news is, with the Marlins’ loss to the Mets on Monday, the Cubs moved a 1/2 game up in the standing and slid back into the last Wild Card spot. Technically, they’re tied with the Reds, as both are six games above .500, but the Cubs lead by percentage points.
However, remember that there is no more Game 163. Tiebreakers will determine any ties at the end of the season, and since the Cubs lost the season series to the Reds, Cincinnati would win the tiebreaker in the event the teams remained tied after the regular season. So, the Cubs would need to be a full game ahead in order to stay ahead.
As for the other four teams in the race, the Cubs hold the tiebreaker over only the Giants. Each of the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Marlins won their season series against the Cubs, so the same tiebreaker rules would apply.
The Cubs begin their last 12-game stretch of the season with a homestand featuring three-game set with the Pirates and Rockies. After an off day next Monday, they’ll head to Atlanta for a three-game, mid-week series before ending the season with three in Milwaukee.
Here are the remaining schedules for other five teams still in the Wild Card hunt:
- Phillies: @ ATL (2), vs. NYM (4), vs. PIT (3), @ NYM (3)
- Diamondbacks: vs. SF (2), @ NYY (3), @ CWS (3), vs. HOU (3)
- Reds: vs. MIN (2), vs. PIT (3), @ CLE (2), @ STL (3)
- Marlins: vs. NYM (2), vs. MIL (3), @ NYM (3), @ PIT (3)
- Giants: @ ARI (2), @ LAD (4), vs. SD (3), vs. LAD (3)
According to FanGraphs, the Cubs entered Tuesday with a 45.8 percent chance to make the playoffs. Their odds to clinch a Wild Card spot are 44.1 percent. Among the six teams in the Wild Card race, the Phillies (99.4 percent) and Diamondbacks (56.3 percent) are ahead, the Marlins (42.8 percent) and Reds (42.6 percent) are just below and the Giants (13 percent) are far back but still within striking distance.
Today’s game preview
Javier Assad (3-3, 3.10 ERA) will take the bump for the Cubs on Tuesday to open the series with the Pirates at Wrigley Field.
Assad played a big part in stabilizing the rotation when he rejoined it in early August. In his first six starts, he posted a 1.95 ERA, struck out 27 batters and walked only 10 over 37 innings. He went 2-0 in that stretch, and the Cubs won five of his six starts.
In his two starts since, though, he’s struggled. In outings against Arizona at home and at Colorado, he posted a 7.27 ERA, allowing seven earned runs in 8 2/3 innings. The Diamondbacks and Rockies combined to put up a .959 OPS, including walking five times while striking out only four times.
While Assad had been a breath of fresh air his first month back in the rotation, he’ll have to turn things around to help the Cubs complete their playoff push.
The Pirates had not named a starter as of Tuesday morning.