UPDATE: The Cubs clinched the Central Division title thanks to the Cardinals' loss to the Brewers Saturday.
The Chicago Cubs clinched their playoff berth earlier this week, but now they’re trying to lock up the third seed in the National League standings by capturing the Central Division title.
The Cubs are aiming for that title, which would come with home-field advantage in the Wild Card Round beginning on Wednesday.
Before they can start worrying about all of that, they’ll need to focus on the task at hand and to take care of business against the Chicago White Sox. Here is where things stand heading into Saturday’s action:
Cubs’ Magic Number for a Division Title: 1
By virtue of the Cubs’ win and a Cardinals loss to the Brewers on Friday night, the Cubs are just one win or St. Louis loss away from clinching their first division title in three years.
Both teams play at 6:10 p.m. Saturday, with the Cubs taking on the White Sox and the Cardinals continuing their series against the Brewers, so there is a chance the Cubs will wrap up the division title on Saturday evening.
The Cardinals’ only hope to grab the Central title away from the Cubs is to win both of their games this weekend, and for the Cubs to lose both of their games to the White Sox. Even if that occurs, the Cardinals would still have to play a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on Monday at Comerica Park, and if the Cardinals lose either of those games, the Cubs would still win the division.
If the Season Ended Today….
The best the Cubs can do at this point is to capture the third seed in the National League, as the Atlanta Braves are locked into the second seed and the Los Angeles Dodgers are locked into the top seed in the league.
That would mean the Cubs would face the lowest-ranked second place team in the National League, and at this point the Miami Marlins own that position, setting up the first playoff showdown between the two clubs since 2003.
The St. Louis Cardinals, who are chasing the Cubs, are currently in the fifth seed spot, and would face the San Diego Padres in the first round. The Padres are locked into the fourth seed, meaning they’ve earned home field advantage in the Wild Card round.
The Dodgers would take on the San Francisco Giants in the first round, while the Atlanta Braves are set to take on the newly-clinched Cincinnati Reds in the first round.
The Cubs will wrap up their season with two more games against the White Sox, and a win in either game would lock up the Central Division for the North Siders.
The Cardinals have two games remaining against the Milwaukee Brewers, and they’ll need to win both and hope that the Cubs lose both of their games to have any prayer of winning the division title.
The Marlins, who also clinched their playoff spot this week, will continue their series against the New York Yankees, while the Reds will continue a series against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are trying to capture the American League Central title, and could do so with a win and losses by the White Sox and Indians on Saturday.