It has taken more time than perhaps they though it would, but the Chicago Cubs can potentially clinch a playoff spot on Tuesday night.
Currently, the Cubs’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth stands at just two, but with several teams battling for the two wild card spots in the National League.
Things were slightly complicated heading into Tuesday's action, but since the Philadelphia Phillies lost their game against the Washington Nationals, things are suddenly much easier.
Heading into Tuesday’s action, here are the Cubs’ clinching scenarios, with some notes on why each of the scenarios would work to get Chicago into October.
Scenario 1: A Cubs Win
So the good news for the Cubs is that they are guaranteed to own a tiebreaker against several of the teams competing for National League wild card spots. The Cubs won six out of 10 games against the Cincinnati Reds this summer, giving them the edge over that squad. They also are guaranteed to have a better intradivisional record than either the Philadelphia Phillies or the San Francisco Giants, meaning that the Cubs own tiebreakers against those clubs as well.
As a result of that, the Cubs can simply get into the postseason with a win against the Pirates on Tuesday. That would render the result of Tuesday's game between the Reds and Brewers irrelevant for Chicago, who would reach the postseason after missing the playoffs in 2019.
Scenario 2: A Cubs loss AND a Reds loss
This scenario is a little more complicated, but there is a way for the Cubs to sneak into the postseason even if they lose on Tuesday.
If the Cubs lose, their record would drop to 32-23 on the season with five games left to go. If the Cubs were to somehow lose all five of those games, other teams could potentially leapfrog them in the standings.
A loss by the Reds to the Brewers in this scenario would guarantee that they would not be able to surpass the Cubs in wins. That result, coupled with the Phillies' loss to the Nationals earlier on Tuesday, would get the Cubs into the postseason by virtue of owning tiebreakers over both clubs.