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At this point in the season for the Cubs, the cliche is as true as ever — a win is a win.
It wasn’t always pretty, but with the help of a couple of lesser-known heroes, the Cubs rallied to beat the Rockies and take the series with a win over Colorado on Saturday. They enter Sunday with a chance to sweep, and they’re still hanging onto a National League Wild Card spot.
Every game feels like a must-win at this point. With a few teams right on their tails, the Cubs cannot afford a slip-up. Seven games remain in their season. They need to finish this stretch strong if they want to play into October.
Here is CHGO’s daily update on the Cubs’ postseason hopes and where things stand with the rest of the playoff contenders.
Play of the Day
Javier Assad hadn’t been quite as sharp in his last three starts before moving back to the bullpen. He got hit hard, and his stuff just wasn’t playing as well as it had in the weeks leading up to Saturday.
But this was one of those nasty pitches that even left Cubs legend Kris Bryant wondering what happened as Assad escaped a jam and capped an impressive four innings of relief.
Quote of the Day
“Sometimes, struggling is the best teacher. You’ve got to learn throughout those times. It’s easy to fall into a hole — and sometimes you want to, to be honest with you — but bouncing ideas off guys, talking with people, just running through things. Just every day coming in, trying to get better during those times. Not getting too much playing time, but still trying to get better. Coming down the stretch, you can’t have any hiccups. So, just trying to do what I can to help this team win” — Miles Mastrobuoni, on now contributing to the playoff push after early season struggles and a lack of playing time.
Even with the Brewers’ loss Saturday, there’s virtually no way for the Cubs to catch them in the NL Central standings. Milwaukee is seven games ahead, and their magic number is down to 1. Another Brewers victory or another Cubs loss will end the division race. So, earning a wild card bid is essentially Chicago’s only shot at the playoffs.
First, a reminder that there’s no more Game 163. Of the seven teams with any chance at a wild card spot, the Cubs own the tiebreaker (head-to-head record) over only the Giants and Padres, while they’d lose it to the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Marlins and Reds.
Here’s how each of those seven teams fared Saturday:
- Cubs: Beat the Rockies
- Phillies: Beat the Mets
- Diamondbacks: Postponed versus the Yankees
- Marlins: Beat the Brewers
- Reds: Lost to the Pirates
- Giants: Lost to the Dodgers
- Padres: Lost to the Cardinals
All of those outcomes mean the Cubs remain in a wild card spot. They moved to four games back of Philadelphia and a 1/2 game back of Arizona in the standings, and they maintained a full game on Miami. Cincinnati, San Francisco and San Diego all fell multiple games back of the Cubs with their losses Saturday.
With that, the Cubs kept control of their postseason fate. It’s up to them to stack up wins and keep the teams below them in the standings at bay.
The Cubs will go for the sweep in the series finale on Sunday, ending the home slate of the regular season. Then, after an off day Monday, they’ll head to Atlanta for a three-game series before ending the regular season with three in Milwaukee.
Here are the remaining schedules for the the other top-seven teams in the wild card hunt:
- Phillies: vs. NYM (1), vs. PIT (3), @ NYM (3)
- Diamondbacks: @ NYY (2), @ CWS (3), vs. HOU (3)
- Reds: vs. PIT (1), @ CLE (2), @ STL (3)
- Marlins: vs. MIL (1), @ NYM (3), @ PIT (3)
- Giants: @ LAD (1), vs. SD (3), vs. LAD (3)
- Padres: vs. STL (1), @ SF (3), @ CWS (3)
According to FanGraphs’ playoff projections, the Cubs’ odds at clinching a wild card spot rose to 59.6 percent going into Sunday. Among the top-seven teams in the race, the Phillies (100 percent) and Diamondbacks (83.3 percent) are given better odds than the Cubs. They’ve moved ahead of the Marlins (48.4 percent) with the Reds (8 percent) falling even further behind, and the Giants (0.5 percent) and Padres (0.1 percent) are now pretty remote contenders.
Today’s pitching matchup
Jordan Wicks (3-1, 2.67 ERA) had his start moved back a day after Marcus Stroman got the start Saturday. Another day of rest should benefit Wicks, who’s nearly thrown the most innings of any year of his career, in the series finale.
He took his first major league loss in Arizona a week ago, but he still only gave up three earned runs across 4 1/3 innings. He did walk four Diamondbacks in his outing, which is a concern, but Wicks has still show a knack for performing in the big moments. The rookie has shown he has the right mentality as the Cubs make the playoff push. Against Colorado — who he threw his a quality start against on Sept. 11 — Wicks will need to keep that mentality and give the Cubs another chance to win.
The Rockies will counter with Ty Blach (3-2, 5.32 ERA). Despite a poorer stretch of starts in September, Blach picked up a win over the Cubs on Sept. 13 with five innings of three-run ball. Regardless, the Cubs can’t afford any losses right now. They have to figure out a way to get to Blach and end the homestand on a high note.
Tweet of the Day
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