With their win in Atlanta, the Cubs have now won eight of nine games and have maintained their division lead over the equally hot Brewers and Cardinals. The three teams atop the Central are the hottest in the NL, but it’s going to take an absolute supernova from one of the teams trailing to Cubs to catch up.
According to FanGraphs, Chicago now boasts a 99.6 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 91.3 percent chance to win the division. As you can see from the chart below, the Cubs have increased their chances over the last week of August, though St. Louis has gone absolutely nuts over the course of the month.
As of July 31, the Cards’ odds bottomed out at a mere 7 percent. Mike Matheny had been fired two weeks before and the environment had improved, but things weren’t quite clicking yet. Then the calendar turned and the Cards started playing like they really gave a Shildt, a trend that has continued for weeks now.
Even with the hot play of their rivals, the Cubs have an enormous advantage when it comes to the numbers in the loss column. Five fewer losses than the Cards and six fewer than the Brewers give the Cubs a little house money as they head into the home stretch. Let’s take a look at some quick math to show what I mean.
Should they maintain their current .594 winning percentage, the Cubs will finish their remaining 29 games with a 17-12 record. That would force the Cardinals to go 22-6 (.786) and Brewers to go 22-5 (.815) in order to take over first place, neither of which is likely. Even if the Cubs limp home at 15-14 (.517), the Cards would need to go 20-8 (.714) and the Brewers 20-7 (.741).
Oh, and the Cubs get Kris Bryant back this weekend.