Cubs scheduling concerns with 47 games in 47 days


by - Staff Writer -
Heyward and Kipnis provide leadership for Cubs (David Banks - USA Today Sports)
Heyward and Kipnis provide leadership for Cubs (David Banks - USA Today Sports)

The Cubs’ much anticipated weekend bout with the St. Louis Cardinals was postponed because another Cardinal has tested positive for Covid-19, thus enlarging the already present outbreak in that clubhouse.

Today, the Cubs are back in action for the first time since their 13-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals Thursday night. A four-day lay-off is not something that was anticipated during a season of only 60 games.

Nonetheless, the Cubs sit at 10-3 and need to continue their hot start despite this momentum cool off. Today's opponent is the Cleveland Indians, and the Cubs take them on for two games before playing the Milwaukee Brewers for four.

There are now 47 days left in the regular season, and the Cubs need to squeeze 47 games in to finish their total 60. The “60 game sprint” that everybody expected turns into one when games get canceled due to weather and the ongoing pandemic.

Not only does the Cardinals’ outbreak hurt the Cubs from a momentum standpoint, who had won six of seven before having the weekend season canceled, but it also hurts the Cubs because they now have to play many more games in fewer days as the season winds down with a strict end date of September 27th.

The Cubs opened their year with the pitching rotation of Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, Jon Lester, and Alec Mills.

Chatwood went Thursday night, so in theory, the Cubs could choose to restart their rotation, pick up where they left off, or essentially start any pitcher they want to besides Chatwood.

Cubs skipper David Ross announced that they would pick up where they left off, with Jon Lester getting the ball against the Indians on Tuesday and nine days rest. Mills, Hendricks, Darvish, and Chatwood will follow big Jon, on nine days rest.

That should line the rotation up for bursts in the short run. With 47 games remaining and 47 days to play them, the Cubs should stack up nicely rotation wise — with an added boost coming from Jose Quintana, who is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Tuesday and whos impact upon his return has not quite yet been announced.

In terms of the Cardinals, the Cubs play them two more times, a three-game series from August 17-19 and a four-game series from September 4-7. The challenge is making up the three games from the weekend is that both remaining series’ take place at Wrigley Field at home and the one that was canceled was supposed to take place in St. Louis.

The Cubs have scheduled off-days the 20th and 27th of August and the 14th and 17th of September. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have off just August 27th and September 3rd. But the other thing to consider is the Cardinals have to somehow squeeze 55 games into the next 47 days, and they are not even playing until Thursday at the earliest. So that will mean 55 games in 44 days for the Cardinals, an unheard-of workload for a team that still might not even be healthy.

For the Cubs to make up the games, it does not seem possible to squeeze them in St. Louis. What the league could do is have the Cubs play doubleheaders on three of the seven days that the Cubs and Cardinals are scheduled to play at Wrigley, and just have the Cubs bat first even though the games are at Wrigley. That way, the games get made up, and the Cardinals are credited with the home game, even though it’s at Wrigley Field — and with the lack of fans, it shouldn’t feel that disadvantageous to the Cardinals.

It remains unknown how the MLB will decide to handle the Cardinals’ situation in terms of scheduling, especially since their outbreak is not entirely under control yet. But in glancing ahead, the Cardinals already have a doubleheader scheduled with the Brewers and Tigers, three with the Brewers and two with the Tigers to be exact. All doubleheaders contain a pair of seven-inning games instead of nine, so that should help ease the blow on the Cardinals pitching staff that will be forced to cover 495 innings (give or take) over the next month and a half.

If you thought 47 games in 47 days for the Cubs would be bad, imagine the stretch the Cardinals are about to embark on if and when they get healthy. Either way, this outbreak, Cardinals’ players fault or not, throws a major wrench in the Cubs’ season, and the MLB attempt to foster a season amidst a pandemic as a whole.

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