Commentary: Better check the rear-view

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The Brew Crew are right on heels of Cubs (Benny Sieu- USA Today Sports)
The Brew Crew are right on heels of Cubs (Benny Sieu- USA Today Sports)

Just a couple of short weeks ago, the Cubs were up 4.5 games over Milwaukee and 5.0 games over the Cards; my, how times have suddenly changed (again).
After going just 5-5 in their last ten games, the Cubs find themselves getting ready to host Milwaukee for a three-game set, now only holding a two-game lead over the Brewers, who have now gone 8-2 in their last ten. While St. Louis is still lurking in third place, now 4.5 games back, the division would have been even closer, had the Cardinals not dropped a couple in Detroit over the weekend.

There’s an ugly reality here: If the Cubs fail to win the series against Milwaukee, the best that they can hope for is to be tied for first place; being swept means the Cubs would fall a game back. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like the sound of that.

While the Cubs series in Washington, DC was deteriorating faster than the weather at the stadium, I received a message from my friend and CubsHQ colleague, Scott Watkins, asking what I thought of the possibility that the Cubs could end up as a wild-card team and not the division champions. Wildcard? I froze.

Somehow the Cubs always seem to be able to fall into the manure pile and come out smelling like roses, but how long can that last?

Thus far, they’ve managed to maintain the best record in the National League, despite being down two starters, key players and a closer for the majority of the season, but still, it always seems to be that they’re playing (or winning) on borrowed time. The problem, as I see it anyway, is that they’re running out of time to borrow.

The Brewers elimination number remains at 18; the Cardinals’ number is now at 16. Every Cubs win takes one number away from the elimination number, as does every loss by either the Brewers or Cards; once that number hits zero, a team cannot win the division. Here’s where the beautiful part- when the Cubs win against either Milwaukee or St. Louis, that team’s elimination number drops by two, so a Cubs’ sweep would mean that Milwaukee’s number becomes 12. THINK SWEEP.

With 20 games remaining, the possibilities are endless, but there are certainly scenarios involved that would have the Cubbies on the outside looking in. I honestly think that the Cubs will end up taking the division, but their inconsistency has me more than a little worried about the post-season.
This Thursday was to have been a day of rest, following an insane 23 straight game days, but Mother Nature goofed that up. Instead of squeezing in that crucial day off, the Cubs will now be venturing back to DC, trying to make up Sunday’s game.

Time to regroup for another long push, as the Cubs now play another 10 days before their final off-day of the season (9/20/18). Push forward, but keep checking that rear-view mirror, boys- this has become too close for comfort.


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