After reading Gameboy’s blog that addressed some obvious but necessary needs from the Chicago Cubs down the stretch, it got me thinking about what exactly that “stretch” entails for the remainder of the season and how the Cubs can capitalize on advantageous spots and distance themselves from the Brewers that inhabit Wrigley North just across the Illinois/Wisconsin border and of course the Cardinals to lock up that number one seed in the National League and the central division title.
So, here’s what the Cubs have ahead of them the remainder of the regular season. The 17 remaining games are as follows:
146 – Thursday, September 13 @ Nationals
147 -Friday, September 14 vs Reds
148 – Saturday, September 15 vs Reds
149 – Sunday, September 16 vs Reds
150 – Monday, September 17 @ Diamondbacks
151 – Tuesday, September 18 @ Diamondbacks
152 – Wednesday, September 19 @ Diamondbacks
153 – Friday, September 21 @ White Sox
154 – Saturday, September 22 @ White Sox
155 – Sunday, September 23 @ White Sox
156 – Monday, September 24 vs Pirates
157 – Tuesday, September 25 vs Pirates
158 – Wednesday, September 26 vs Pirates
159 – Thursday, September 27 vs Pirates
160 – Friday, September 28 vs Cardinals
161 – Saturday, September 29 vs Cardinals
162 – Sunday, September 30 vs Cardinals
Now, this is one of those spots where this doesn’t look terrible, but, it also isn’t going to be easy either. The Cubs are 38-36 versus teams with a .500 record or better but hold a record of 46-25 versus teams that are below .500. The Cubs will close the season having to square off in 11 games against teams that are above .500 and only get six games versus teams below .500. As each team currently sits, here are their respective records:
Chicago White Sox: 57-89
Cincinnati Reds: 63-84
Pittsburgh Pirates: 71-72
Washington Nationals: 74-72
Arizona Diamondbacks: 77-69
The Brewers, on the other hand, face a similar last stretch of their season as they get the Reds for three, Pirates for three at home and then go on the road for six straight – three in Pittsburgh and three against the Cardinals – before coming home and closing it out with three against the Tigers. Those road games versus the Pirates and Cardinals will more than likely be the “make or break” games for their division title hopes.
If the Cubs just be themselves down the stretch and perform like they are supposed to, the rest will take care of itself.
Moving on, let’s take a closer look at how the Cubs have stacked up against the remaining teams on their schedule so far in 2018.
Cubs Record versus Each Remaining Team
White Sox: (2-1)
We already know that the Cubs can hit and anybody that tells you otherwise probably subscribes to whatever the hell rag fallacy bullshit newsletter that Michael Wilbon seems to subscribe to. Among NL teams, the Cubs rank as follows in these batting stat categories.
|WAR – 1st||wRC+ – 2nd||wOBA – 2nd||OBP – 1st||Batting Average – 1st||BABIP – 1st||K% – 11th|
RBI and Runs – 3rd: Coupling this with the pitching staff numbers, the Cubs will be going up against in their final 17 games, those are encouraging nuggets.
Reds – Cubs hitters will get to (hopefully) FEAST on the Reds staff that is sporting a bottom-two WAR, xFIP and ERA among all NL starting staffs. Reds starters also give up a National League high 1.47 HR/9 and have served up a whopping 214 homers this season. You want to talk about some piss-missles about to go over the bleachers at Wrigley, this will be the staff to do it against.
White Sox – Much of the same as it is with the Reds starting pitching, the White Sox starting pitching is equally atrocious and even more so now that Kopech needs to go under the knife to fix his throwing arm. White Sox starters sport the 25th worst ERA in all of baseball, have allowed THE MOST walks in the major leagues and the fourth most runs while sporting the highest xFIP and the fourth worst WHIP. Gonna be no excuses for the bats not to get to work against these guys either.
Pirates – The Pirates have a middle of the road staff in just about every facet of the game. They rank 17th in ERA and WAR, 12th in BABIP, 16th in BB/9 and 17th in K/9. This team is average at best and the Cubs hitters are really good, gotta get it done boys.
Cardinals – Ah yes, the Cardinals, every Cubs fan’s favorite team to hate, a title that is being quickly contended by the Brewers, but I digress. The Cardinals staff, much like Pittsburgh, is average but slightly better than the buckos. The Cardinals staff has the fourth best ERA in the NL and has allow the fewest HR/9 in the NL …..BUT…. have the fourth worst xFIP in the league and have the sixth worst WHIP in the NL.
There are some cracks in their armor that can be exposed and the Cubs are going to have to find them, especially since the last three games of the season when St. Louis comes to town will probably……definitely……be very important. Not a lot of homer run expectancy against the Cards starters, so the Cubs are going to have to get it into the outfield and find the gaps to drive in runners and get W’s.
Diamondbacks – In relation to their respectable W-L record, their starting staff has put up some decent numbers as well and will provide a tough test for Cubs hitters. Despite their starters having the second worst WHIP in all the National League, Diamondbacks hurlers sport the ninth best ERA in the majors, the sixth best K/9 and the tenth best HR/9 in the majors. Dbacks starters also only walk 7.6 percent of batters they face and have combined for the third best WAR among starting staffs in the National League. Much like facing the Cardinals, it’s going to be all about getting on base and driving in runs the hard way against this rotation.
Nationals – One game on Thursday and I’m so sick of the Nationals and basically all of D.C. in general after the frustrating as hell series the Cubs had to endure with what seemed like a damn MONSOON that ripped through there last week. Rant. Over.
To summarize all that – basically if the Cubs be the Cubs they should take care of business. Beat the bad teams (Reds and Sox) like they are supposed to and pick up some hard-fought W’s against teams that are .500 or better. If that means winning ugly then so be it, just get it done. The Cubs are the best hitting team in the National League and are going up against pitching staffs that are average or below average at best. Get ‘em in gear Crazy Joe, and let’s take this thing deep into October.
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