The Chicago Cubs (96-55) closed out the National League Central Division title last Thursday night. One week later the Cubs are closing in on the best record in the National League, and all of baseball for that matter, including home field advantage throughout the National League side of the playoffs. The Cubs magic number is down to 3 as the Cubs head into tonight’s game against the Reds, looking for the sweep.
Entering last night’s game against the Reds the Cubs magic number was 5. Both the Cubs won and the Nationals lost, something they’ve been doing a lot of lately.
Here’s a look at the current division standings.
The Cubs now have an eight game lead over the Nationals with 11 games to play. Since the Cubs hold the tiebreaker, 5-2 in head-to-head wins, their magic number to clinch the best record in the National League is 3.
Assuming the Cubs clinch this week, I’d expect Joe Maddon to rest his starters for a couple of days and then get them back in and playing. It will be profoundly important for Joe to keep the starters engaged and playing good baseball, particularly with the Cardinals, Giants and Mets in a dogfight over the two National League Wild Card spots. You can bet that whoever comes out of the Wild Card game is going to be ready to play in the NLDS.