Chicago Cubs Magic Number Watch: 12 Games and Shrinking

It’s that time of year, my friends. No, not football season, I’m talking about the glorious sport of scoreboard watching. Although, I’ll admit that as a Cubs fan I’m always scoreboard watching hoping the Cardinals lose.

The Cubs didn’t win yesterday, but they did decrease their magic number from 13 to 12 thanks to the St. Louis Cardinals dutifully losing to the Cincinnati Reds for the second straight night. In fact, they’ve dropped three straight games to sub-.500 teams. So that helps.

The magic number is determined by the following formula: 162 + 1 – Cubs wins – 2nd place team’s losses. So here’s today’s calculation: 163 -87 – 64 = 12.

And here are the standings in the NL Central:

Chi Cubs 87 48 .644 7-3 L1 9/4 vs SF, 2:20 PM
St. Louis 70 64 .522 16.5 12 4-6 L3 9/4 @ CIN, 1:10 PM
Pittsburgh 67 66 .504 19.0 10 4-6 L5 9/4 vs MIL, 1:35 PM
Milwaukee 59 76 .437 28.0 E 4-6 W3 9/4 @ PIT, 1:35 PM
Cincinnati 57 77 .425 29.5 E 4-6 W2 9/4 vs STL, 1:10 PM

The Pirates are only 2.5 games back from the Cardinals, so it’s at least conceptually possible that they move ahead of the Cardinals. If that happens then the Cubs magic number would be derived based on whatever team occupies the second place spot.

The Cardinals will close out their three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds today at 12:10 PM CT. If they lose, the Cubs magic number will fall one spot. So, by the end of today the magic number could be 10.

Let’s keep in mind that the Cubs and Cardinals will play a three game series starting on Monday, September 12. Soooo….it’s quite possible that the Cubs could clinch in St. Louis. And wouldn’t that be fun?

The Cardinals have 8 games, including today’s game, and the Cubs play 7 games until the two teams meet. So 15 total games and the Cubs magic number is now 12, and you see what I’m saying, right? The Cardinals are probably going to win at least a few games between today and the 12th. The Cubs are probably going to lose a few games in that time. When they play each other the outcome will count for twice as much, kinda, since a Cubs win will equate to a Cardinals loss and that would be a 2 game swing in the magic number.

So, as long as the magic number is 6 games or less when the two teams meet starting on September 12, the Cubs will mathmatically be able to clinch the NL Central in St. Louis. Of course, the Cubs could always go on a win streak and the Cardinals could lose enough that the Pirates overtake them in the standings. Oh, still so many possibilities.

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