The Critical Stretch

In Commentary And Analysis by Rice Cube15 Comments

Well well, folks, another set of series that were not lost! At 69-61 (nice), I believe this is the first time all season the Cubs have been eight games over the mythical .500 mark. I’m looking at the breakdown and it would seem that other than that abysmal month of May, which somewhat coincidentally was when Cody Bellinger went on the injured list halfway through, the Cubs have been .500 or above in every calendar month, including 16-8 this August before they end the month against the Brewers at home. If not for the Brewers own win streak (and the fact that their opponents in that stretch have been absolutely useless), the Cubs might have clawed back some in the division, but we can talk about that soon.

The Schedule

As stated, the Cubs will finish August with three against the Brewers at Wrigley Field before a much needed off day, after which we will see the following through October 1:

  • 4 at Reds, including a doubleheader on day one (this ends their season series)
  • 3 vs Giants & 4 vs Diamondbacks at home
  • 3 @ Rockies and 3 @ Diamondbacks with off days after each series (but those are for travel)
  • 3 vs Pirates (ends season series) & 3 vs Rockies at home
  • 3 @ ATL and 3 @ Brewers to end the season (the division is potentially still in play at this point)

These are the 32 games that remain to solidify the Cubs’ position (or at least clinch that last playoff spot). The Rays snagged the final AL Wild Card spot with 86 wins while the Phillies did the same with 87 wins last season, so I think we want the Cubs to get to at least 86. This requires a record of 17-15 which is perfectly doable, but I tend to think they’ll do better than that.

The Cubs need to win the Reds series (3-1) to ensure they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. It would be best if they also win the series against the Giants as they did earlier this year, and also against the Diamondbacks, but those are likely going to be the tossup games. The nine games against the Rockies and Pirates should give them some cushion but as you saw with the “easy” schedule this past stretch, sweeps aren’t guaranteed even against bad teams. As suggested in the last Dreamcast, Atlanta might decide to rest some folks since they’re up big in the division and that would also depend on if they have a cushion against the Dodgers for the best league record, so maybe the Cubs catch a break. Regardless, because LA and ATL are so far above the rest, the Cubs will have to play in the wild card round pretty much no matter what, and the only question remaining is whether they’ll get to bat first or last in those games. Having to barely be above .500 the rest of the way is kind of nice, but just win and you’re in.

The Postseason Picture

The Reds had just lost their series to the Diamondbacks, and as of the end of the Giants game which they just won, Cincinnati and San Francisco are on the outside looking in. Miami is the next closest competitor, while the useless Padres are falling further behind.

In order, the wild cards are:

  • Philly (3 games up on the Cubs
  • Cubs
  • Arizona (half game back)

Then we have CIN & SF 1.5 games back of Arizona, and Miami three back with a large gap before you get down to the Padres who should be ashamed of themselves. This gives the Cubs some cushion, and as you saw on the schedule above, the Cubs will play each of Milwaukee, Arizona, and Cincinnati multiple times to get closer to the division and/or create separation in that wild card race. As of now, the Cubs sit four games back of the Brewers in the division and could end their series anywhere between a game back and seven games back. My hope is that they win at least one to keep the division hopes alive until that end-of-season series and to not allow the teams below them to catch up, but it might be rough with the Brewers big three pitchers coming to Wrigley, although they have been known to give up some runs.

If you were wondering about the American League, the division leaders are Baltimore, Seattle, and Minnesota. The Twins are mainly benefitting from the fact that everyone else in their division blows. Seattle has been on a tear and has leapfrogged the collapsing Texas Rangers to take over the division. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has the top wild card spot and could still overtake Baltimore, and Texas and Houston are in a virtual tie for the final two spots with Toronto and Boston being the only ones with a realistic shot to steal those spots.


I was way wrong about Jordan Wicks waiting until September and I’m thinking he’s up to stay for a bit since he was pretty good, and Drew Smyly has shown he’s trash as a starter, and Marcus Stroman is still broken. There are at this time two open spots on the 40-man roster, and at least one spot that could be cleared without batting an eye depending on what you think of Patrick Wisdom. The hope is that they can bring up a decent reliever (i.e., Luke Little, who has been fire and is apparently Rule 5 eligible soon anyway) or a bat (Pete Crow-Armstrong is probably easy money here). Coincidentally, the Reds series starts on September 1, so we’ll find out together. Again, Cubs just need to keep winning and they’re in.

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  1. Author
    Rice Cube

    In between choosing the wrong Batista and trying too hard to guess sluggers who won a “he hit pretty good too” Gold Glove, today was a disaster (dying laughing)

    ⚾️ Immaculate Grid 148 5/9:
    Rarity: 523
    Play at:
    @immaculategrid x @baseball_ref

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  2. berselius

    ⚾️ Immaculate Grid 148 8/9:
    Rarity: 263
    A little surprised that Jose Ramirez hasn’t won a GG

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  3. Perkins

    ⚾️ Immaculate Grid 148 9/9:
    Rarity: 157

    Had to use Trevor Bauer for ARI-CLE, which…ick.

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  4. berselius

    Do(n’)tel me Octavio never played for the Diamondbacks.

    You have been banned from Obstructed View. You can browse but not participate. Please confirm.

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