“You can see the mornin’, but I can see the light.” – Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Let it Ride
The Cubs were off yesterday while the Diamondbacks lost to the Yankees, but both teams still control their postseason destinies. There are six games left in the season and three teams are fighting for two Wild Card spots, so Chicago’s twofold mission is simple in scope.
- Win one more game this week than Arizona;
- Don’t lose any ground to the Marlins.
That’s it. The Cubs and Diamondbacks are sporting identical 82-74 records and Miami is one game off the pace, but both teams hold a tiebreaker advantage over Chicago. If the North Siders meet both objectives, they’ll earn the second Wild Card slot and a likely trip to Philadelphia. Meeting one means possibly playing the Brewers in Milwaukee. Failing both means Chicago’s season ends on Sunday.
The Cubs are facing the toughest remaining schedule of their Wild Card opponents, so it won’t be easy. Then again, playoff teams find ways to win games that circumstantially seem like certain losses. Nobody back in March thought the Cubs would be in this position with six games left. Win or lose, let’s just enjoy some meaningful late-September baseball.
Cubs News & Notes
- David Ross wants to see the Cubs keep their current momentum going.
- Chicago has navigated some bumpy roads since the start of September.
- The Top 10 Wrigley Field moments of 2023 include a walk-off home run by Christopher Morel and last week’s grand slam by Alexander Canario.
- Starters have been set for the Atlanta series and our own Sean Holland has the preview.
- Cody Bellinger leads the Cubs with a 2.53 win probability added. A WPA of 1 means adding 100% to the chance of winning one game.
- Shortstop Dansby Swanson told Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic that the Cubs have come a long way ($) since the start of the season.
- Swanson is a candidate to be named Shortstop of the Year, though Corey Seager is the current favorite.
- Justin Steele has become a legitimate Cy Young candidate thanks to advice from former Cubs star Jon Lester.
- Marcus Stroman is not expected to exercise his offseason opt-out, and will therefore remain with the Cubs in 2024.
- The Tennessee Smokies are one win away from taking the Southern League crown.
- Cade Horton gets the start tonight with a chance to bring home a Smokies championship.
Odds & Sods
Blake Snell sounds like a future starter for the White Sox based on this description.
Blake Snell is going to join a highly exclusive list of star pitchers to have won CYs in both leagues then hit free agency where every fanbase will dread the contract their team inks him to. One of the funniest careers tbh
— Robert Orr (official) (@NotTheBobbyOrr) September 26, 2023
- Milwaukee (88-68): The Brewers will be crowned NL Central champs with a win or a Cubs loss this evening.
- Cincinnati (80-77): Joey Votto might have played his final game in Cincinnati as a Red. The fans gave Votto a standing ovation before Sunday’s game against the Pirates.
- Pittsburgh (74-82): Pirates manager Derek Shelton received a text from Ross apologizing for some disparaging remarks made by the Cubs’ manager.
- St. Louis (68-88): The Cardinals placed Willson Contreras and Nolan Arenado on the injury list, ending their seasons.
- The Dodgers and Braves have clinched their divisions, and the Brewers’ magic number is one. Milwaukee is the likely No. 3 seed while Atlanta’s magic number for the top seed is three.
- The Phillies can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Pirates tonight, or a Diamondbacks loss. Their magic number to clinch the top Wild Card berth is 2.
- The Diamondbacks and Cubs are tied but Arizona holds the tiebreaker. The Diamondbacks are in Chicago to play the White Sox.
- The Marlins are a game behind and are in New York to play the Mets. They also hold the tiebreaker advantage over Chicago.
- If the season ended today, the Braves and Dodgers would have first-round byes, the Cubs would play a best-of-three series at Milwaukee, and the Diamondbacks would travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies.
Climbing the Ladder
“One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal.” – Queen, A Kind of Magic
Seiya Suzuki has been wielding the hot bat since August 18. During those 36 games, the right fielder is hitting .363 (49-for-135) with nine home runs and 13 doubles.
Steele takes the bump tonight. He is making his fourth career appearance, and third start, against the Braves. The lefty is 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA against Atlanta, with all previous appearances coming at Wrigley Field. He last faced them on August 6 and came away with a win, giving up four runs, three earned, in 5.1 innings.
- Games Played: 156
- Record: 82-74 (.526)
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,984
- Total Strikeouts: 1,333
- Strikeout Rate: 22.28%
- Team Batting Average: .255
- Runs Scored: 792
- Runs Allowed: 691
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 67.4%, 2.7% to win the World Series
How About That!
Monday’s Three Stars
- Logan Webb – He helped to keep San Francisco’s playoff hopes alive with a complete game shutout. Webb also outdueled Snell in the Giants’ 2-1 win.
- Justin Verlander – The 41-year-old veteran turned in a vintage performance by going eight innings with eight strikeouts as the Astros dropped the Mariners 5-1.
- Jon Gray – The Rangers also won to keep pace with the Astros and Mariners, and Gray was a big reason why. He held Angels batters to one run and five hits in a six-inning performance that included seven punchouts.
Nico Hoerner has been a joy to watch all season.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 24, 2023
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- Matt Eberflus believes the Bears are close to turning things around, but you don’t have to dive too deep to find a few positives.
- Governors Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis will square off in a Fox News debate on November 30 between two people who will probably never be president.
- Business owners are tired of credit card transaction fees, so they’d like us all to start using cash again.
- Jizz music, easily the most inappropriate term in the Star Wars universe, is under attack, but it’s probably not what you think.
- If you’re into jazz music, please check out my new friend and drinking buddy Dr. Sushi on the streaming app for WMSE-FM 91.7 every Tuesday morning.
- Mike Love is always looking for ways to remain relevant, so this week he decided to let everyone know — again — just how much he hates Pet Sounds without saying it verbatim, of course, because of, you know, royalties and such.
They Said It
- “I love seeing where we started and where we’ve come to. What people looked at the Chicago Cubs as [when the season started] versus what they [see] now. To me, there’s a difference in how we go about our business and the expectations and standards that we’ve started to create here. That’s a big deal. If you want sustainable success, you need that part first. I feel like we’ve done a really good job of building on that. Every day we show up, we expect to win. That’s a really important step until you can really thrive at a high level.” – Swanson
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Suck it, Mike Love.