A brief look at the rest of the season

In Commentary And Analysis, Major League Baseball, Playoffs by dmick89

The Cubs have lost four in a row and are now 6 games behind Pittsburgh for the 1st wild card spot. They’re still 4.5 games ahead of the Giants. More importantly at this point in my opinion, they’re 5 losses better than the Giants. You can’t really make up a loss, but you can make up the win. They’re 9.5 behind the Cardinals and 8 ahead of the Nationals so I don’t think there’s much of a chance of a) the Nationals catching the Cubs or the b) the Cubs catching the Cardinals.

I’m ignoring the Dodgers who have a 3.5 game lead on the Giants. They’re only a half game behind the Cubs if you’re interested, but if the Giants catch the Dodgers, it’s probably because the Dodgers have played quite poorly¬†and it won’t likely affect the Cubs positioning in the Wild Card race.

Not that it matters, but I think due to the recent losing streak, the Cubs don’t have much of a chance of catching the Pirates either. But I also feel confident that the Cubs aren’t going to blow their lead over the Giants. Still, it’s worthwhile to look at the rest of the season schedules for each team and see what kind of a schedule they’re facing.

Home Games: Cubs (16), Giants (17), Pirates (15)
Road Games: Cubs (18), Giants (16), Pirates (19)

The Cubs have a road game left in Los Angeles, three in St. Louis and four in Pittsburgh including a double-header on September 15th. Their other road games against the Phillies (4) and then the Reds and Brewers (3 each) the final week of the season. I tend to look at what the opponents are in road games more than I do home games. I don’t know why.

The Giants probably have the easiest road schedule the rest of the way. They play 3 against the Dodgers starting tomorrow and that’s it as far as good teams go. They play 4 in Colorado, 3 in Arizona, 3 in San Diego and 3 more across the bay in Oakland.

The Pirates play the most road games of these teams and it’s the toughest. They’ve got 3 in St. Louis, 3 in Los Angeles and 3 in Chicago. They also play in Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Denver.

Opponent Winning Percentage: Cubs (.512), Giants (.477), Pirates (.497)

The Giants had a brutal August, but they’ve got a fairly easy September/October. If they reach the post-season, they’re going to do the same thing the Cubs did in August, which is entirely possible.

While the Cubs opponent winning percentage may be higher than the other two, Baseball Prospectus’ adjusted winning percentages changes things just a bit.

Team oW% oW1% oW2% oW3%
Cubs .512 .509 .498 .496
Giants .477 .490 .496 .492
Pirates .497 .497 .495 .492

The opponent winning percentage obviously doesn’t take home field advantage into account, but this is about as good a picture as I can get. The Giants have the easier schedule, but using BP’s adjustments, it’s not a whole lot easier. The Giants, and the Cubs for that matter, have a lot of ground to make up to catch the team or teams ahead of them. At this point, the number of games left begins to matter a lot too.

The Cubs can still collapse down the stretch, but they built a big enough lead in this race for the 2nd wild card spot that they’d really have to play a lot worse than we expect.

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