by Andy Paschen
After the recent sweep of the Cubs by the likes of the World Champion Philapdelphia Phillies, I was prepared to stick a fork in their playoff aspirations. They had fallen more than a few games behind both St. Louis in the N.L. Central and the team formerly known as Rocktober (The Colorado Rockies) in the Wild Card. I felt like John McCain, though decidedly more alive and less crypt-keeper looking, preparing to send over a written concession to Josh Mosley, congratulating him on the Cardinals victory.
Instead, I says to myself I says, “Andy, the Cubs play the lowly Pirates and Padres the next six games. If they swept those teams, isn’t it possible they could charge right back into the division?” So then I says back to the 1920s talking version of myself I says, “Stop the presses, what does the Cubs schedule look like for the remainder of the season?”
Suddenly, the playoffs for the Chicago Cubs looks like a genuine possibility.
Four games with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Three games with the St. Louis Cardinals. Four games with the San Francisco Giants. One game with the Chicago White Sox. 12 games against teams that currently boast records over .500.
The remainder of contests are against the likes of the aforementioned Padres, the injury-riddled Mets, the God-awful Nationals, Houston, Milwaukee, the Washington Nationals-like Reds, the AAA Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona. 35 of their last 47 games feature sub-.500 teams.
Let’s break those 35 games down a bit more.
- 19 of those 35 games are against teams that are ten or more games under .500.
- 13 of those 35 games are against last-place teams.
- Of those 35 games, the best runs scored differential is Arizona at -26.
- The final six games of the season are home games against Pittsburgh and Arizona.
While the Cardinals have only 14 games left against teams with winning records, the sub-.500 teams they play are slightly better, with only 10 games against the N.L.’s last-place teams.
Colorado and San Francisco on the other hand, have much a much tougher road ahead of them than the Cubs. The two N.L. West Wild Card front runners at this point have 19 and 20 games against teams with winning records, respectively. They also happen meet 10 times before the season is over, which could lead to them knocking each other out of the race while the Cubs slip by.
The other wild card (literally and figuratively) is the Florida Marlins, who have 15 games left against winning teams. However, their schedule is road-heavy, with 25 of their final 44 games played away from that abortion of a baseball field known as Land Shark Stadium. Additionally, they end the season on a six-game road swing with plus-.500 games against Philadelphia and Atlanta.
What does this all mean? I have no idea, but the data does lean in favor of the Cubs making a push towards the post-season, even though they have considerable ground to make up. It isn’t insane to consider the possibility that the Cubs could still overtake the Cardinals in the division, but the only way to do that would be with a three-game sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis come September 18-20, which would be a pretty tall order.
Bullpen season GPA: 2.94(B/B-) GPA through 115 games, down .03 from the last time I decided to do this. I can’t really blame them for their drop in performance too much, considering the starting pitching has been pretty putrid during recent stretches. The bullpen arms have been taxed to say the least.
Hero Squad: Number is games chosen as hero/goat. Sent down. Not with team. New Addition.
11 – Lee
8 – Soriano
6 – Zambrano
5 – Lilly, Ramirez, Wells
4 – Fukudome, Harden, Johnson
3 – Soto, Theriot
2 – Gorzelanny
1 – Ascanio, Bradley, Dempster, Fontenot, Fox, Gregg, Guzman, Hoffpauir, Marmol, Marshall, Scales
6 – Bradley
5 – Gregg
4 – Fontenot, Heilman, Soto, Soriano
3 – Cotts, Fox, Hoffpauir, Marmol, Patton, Samardzija
2 – Fukudome, Harden, Lilly, Marshall, Zambrano
1 – Ascanio, Gorzelanny, Guzman, Johnson, Lee, Scales