Welcome to Cubs Playoff Watch, your daily look at the Chicago Cubs as they continue to push toward their second consecutive division title.
Cubs’ Magic Number: 27
The Cubs currently hold a three and a half game over the Milwaukee Brewers in the Central Division race, and they have just 30 games to go in the regular season.
With the end of the season drawing ever closer, it’s time to once again answer the question that baseball fans are faced with every September: how is a magic number calculated?
The answer is surprisingly simple. Basically, a magic number is the combined number of Cubs (or insert your favorite division-leading team here) wins and the number of losses by the second place team in a race that would result in your favorite team qualifying for the playoffs.
To get that number, here’s the equation:
163 – (Cubs wins + Brewers losses) = Magic Number
Currently, the Cubs have 72 wins going into play on Thursday, while the Brewers have 64 losses. Combining those numbers and subtracting the total from 163 gives us 27, the team’s magic number to clinch their third straight playoff berth and second straight division title.
Who Could the Cubs Potentially Play in October?
This isn’t going to be a complicated question to answer for the Cubs, unfortunately. Assuming that the Washington Nationals hold onto their 15 game lead in the NL East and are unable to overcome the 10 and a half game deficit they face in the race for best record against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs would play the Nationals if they hold onto the Central Division crown.
The only way that changes is if the Cubs get into the wild card game, where they would likely have to play either the Arizona Diamondbacks or Colorado Rockies. A win in that game would equal a likely date with the Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball.
In any of these scenarios, the Cubs would open the playoffs on the road.
The Cubs are getting ready to open a four game series against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. They swept the Braves coming out of the All-Star break earlier this season, so they’ll look to continue their strong play against Atlanta.
Meanwhile, the Brewers will also be starting a four-game series of their own, taking on the Nationals at Miller Park. They will have to face a couple of tough pitchers in that series, including Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez, but they’ll avoid Bryce Harper, who is still out with a knee injury.
The Cardinals, six games back in the division, are on the west coast to start a four game series with the lowly San Francisco Giants.