NL Central Finish-line: Everyone Controls their Own Destiny

While Han Solo is known for saying “Never tell me the odds!” – we feel it might be a good idea to look at the state of possible post-season play by the 3 top teams in the NL Central, as the Cardinals line up for 4 in a row (and 7 out of 10) games against the Cubs.


According to the two most common MLB Post-Season Odds-makers, as of September 19, 2019, the NL Central MLB Post-Season odds are as follows:


fivethirtyeight Fangraphs

St. Louis Cardinals: 93% (75% Division) 92.1% (72.7% Division)

Chicago Cubs: 47% (16% Division) 58.2% (20.7% Division)

Milwaukee Brewers: 60% (9% Division) 48.1% (6.6% Division)


However, 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. But interestingly enough ALL THREE TEAMS CONTROL THEIR OWN DESTINY. Currently, the Cardinals lead the NL Central and the Cubs/Brewers are tied for the Second Wild Card Spot. Thus, it is very likely that 2 of these 3 NL Central Teams will qualify for the MLB Post-Season

CARDINALS CONTROL

(Division Leader)

(Magic Numbers: 8 Division, 8 Wild Card)

Obviously, the Cardinals control their own destiny as they lead the division by 3 games (both the Cubs and the Brewers, who are tied). With a magic number of 8 (with 10 games to go), any combination of 8 wins by the Cardinals or 8 losses by the Cubs/Brewers will give the Cardinals the NL Central Division. That magic number happens to be the same for the Wild Card as the Cubs/Brewers are tied for the Final Wild Card Spot.


CUBS CONTROL

(3 Games Back Division, Wild Card Leader - Tie)

(Magic Numbers: 14 Division, 11 Wild Card)

The Cubs also control their own destiny, as they face the Cardinals 7 times in the final 10 games ("The 7 Games"). If the Cubs can win those 7 games, then the Cubs will have guaranteed enough wins (and losses by the Cardinals) to guarantee either the Wild Card or the Division Championship.


BREWERS CONTROL

(3 Games Back Division, Wild Card Leader - Tie)

(Magic Numbers: 14 Division, 11 Wild Card)

On the other hand, the Brewers can take serious advantage of the Cardinals and Cubs facing each other in The 7 Games and, in fact, should be significantly favored above the Cubs to make the post-season. The Brewers will be facing only 10 below-.500 teams, all of which have been eliminated from post-season play. Thus, the Brewers are (likely) going to win a lot and win often. However, between the Cardinals and the Cubs there will be exactly no matter what 7 losses distributed to the Cardinals/Cubs in The 7 Games. For this reason, the Brewers will get the benefit of those 7 losses, regardless of which contending team is saddled with those losses. It is guaranteed that one of the teams (either the Cardinals or the Cubs) will lose 4-7 games of The 7 Games. Thus, if the Brewers do hold serve and win their 10 remaining games against already-eliminated teams.... (1) if the Cardinals lose 4 or more games in The 7 Games then the Brewers will overtake the Cardinals for a post-season spot or (2) if the Cubs lose just 1 game, then the Brewers will overtake the Cubs for a post-season spot. Because of The 7 Games, one of these two scenarios is guaranteed. In fact, if the Brewers win all their 10 games, and (a) the Cubs lose 1 game and (b) the Cardinals lose 4 games, then the Brewers will be the NL Central Champions.


Consequently, folks, 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. While the Cardinals are leading each of the other teams, both the Cubs and Brewers still 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.