The Cubs went into the second half of the season with playoff odds sitting just under 73%, but winning five of six from the Reds and Pirates has shot those up in a big way. More than 10%, actually, as the Cubs now sit at 83.5% entering Friday’s game with the Man Diego Machadres.
The difference has come almost solely from usurping what had been increasing odds for those two vanquished foes. Both the Brewers and Cardinals climbed from last week’s lower perches as well, but the Cubs have outpaced them by a bit.
My apologies if this is a little busy when viewing on a mobile device, but I wanted to show you just how dramatic this all is. Individual outcomes can’t cost the division, unless they’re viewed in hindsight or come in the 163rd game, but performance against division opponents sure can improve a team’s outlook. And as the season moves along, the magnitude of each result increases that much more.
Last week saw the NL Central trending toward the middle, but we’re now seeing a good deal more separation as the Cubs start to play better baseball. That’s going to be put to the test in a big way over the next two weeks, though.
After finishing their nine-game homestand, the Cubs head to San Francisco to face the surprisingly spry Giants. Though Farhan Zaidi has maintained that his team will sell at the deadline, which is the correct stance given their expiring veteran deals, it’s not always easy to swing westward and win on the road.
From there, the Cubs head to Milwaukee for three then St. Louis for three more before returning home to again face the Brewers for another three games. That’s nine straight against the two teams breathing down their necks, a stretch that could go a long way toward deciding the season.
There’s some old saying about waiting to cross bridges until you come to them, so for now we’ll revel in what the Cubs are currently doing and how they’ll fare against the Dads. But maybe keep a little side-eye on next week, when things really start to get wild.