With only 8 games to go, and 2 wins at the start of the “7 Deadly Cubs (Games)”, it might be a good time to look at the state of the potential for post-season play by the 3 top teams in the NL Central… According to the two common MLB Post-Season Odds makers, as of September 20, 2019, the MLB Post-Season odds are as follows:
St. Louis Cardinals: 99% (91% Division) 98.4% (91.2% Division)
Chicago Cubs: 21% (2% Division) 29.9% (3.3% Division)
Milwaukee Brewers: 79% (6% Division) 68.7% (5.4% Division)
However, as I noted previously, these odds are only based on past performance, run differential, and future games left. These odds fail to factor in the exact opponents left in the schedule.
As we noted previously, the Cubs and Cardinals are likely to distribute losses to each other over the “7 Games” and the Brewers – with their only-under-.500 teams to play – could take advantage of these losses. And it looks like the Brewers might be doing just that (well... against the Cubs)….
(Magic Numbers: 6 Division, 4 Wild Card)
Obviously, the Cardinals control their own destiny as they lead the division by 3.5 games (with the Cubs 5 games out). With a magic number of 6 (with 8 games to go), any combination of 6 wins by the Cardinals or 6 losses by the Brewers will give the Cardinals the NL Central Division. And merely 4 Cardinals wins and/or Cubs losses and the Cardinals are in the Post-Season. The odds are aligning giving the Cardinals between 98-99% of making the Post-Season, and between 91-92% chance of winning the Division. Make no mistake, these 2 wins against the Cubs were HUGE!
On Sept. 16, the Cubs had a 76.7% Chance of making the Post Season (via Fangraphs). After today's loss??? Only 29.9%. That's a dramatic shift. Which leads us to....
(5 Games Back Division, 1.5 Games Back Wild Card)
(Magic Numbers: 14 Division, 11 Wild Card)
The Cubs no longer control their own destiny. With 2 consecutive losses to the Cardinals, the Cubs cannot simply win out and guarantee the Division or the Wild Card. The path for the Cubs to win the division (5 games back with 8 games left) is incredibly bleak. The path for the Cubs to win a Wild Card spot is possible, but with the Brewers playing only weak teams to go, it will be tough for Cubs to catch up -- especially if the Cardinals continue to beat them!
(3.5 Games Back Division, Wild Card Leader)
(Magic Numbers: 13 Division, 8 Wild Card)
On the other hand, the Brewers still control their down destiny for a Wild Card spot. As we noted previously, the Brewers are taking serious advantage of the Cardinals and Cubs facing each other in The 7 Games. While the Cubs were favored 2 days ago over the Brewers, we noted that the Brewers "should be significantly favored above the Cubs." Right now, the Brewers just need to win 8 of 9 (against ONLY below-.500 teams) to guarantee a Wild Card spot. And if the Cubs lose further, the Brewers' job becomes easier and easier to clinch. On the other hand, with 2 consecutive wins by the Cardinals, the Brewers chances to win the NL Central are dropping -- even with their easy schedule. With less 9 games to go (8 for the Cardinals), the Brewers will need to have a combination of 13 wins + losses by Cardinals to win the NL Central. Those odds are tough. But, considering their schedule and the Cubs' position, the Brewers are in the drivers' seat for a Wild Card spot!
As promised, it’s going be a wild ride over the next two weeks. Each game is meaningful, and each game has significant impact on which of these NL Central Opponents will make the Post-Season. The Cardinals continue to lead each of the other teams, but now, only Cardinals and the Brewers control their own post-season destiny
Adam Van Grack is an attorney at the law firm of Longman & Van Grack, LLC practicing litigation, business law, and sports law. Adam is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals having attended Washington University in St. Louis for college and law school. Adam has been previously appointed as the Chair of a U.S. Olympic National Governing Body.