The Chicago Cubs didn’t get much help in their quest to clinch a playoff spot and the Central Division title on Friday, but they took care of their own business as they beat the Minnesota Twins at Wrigley Field.
The victory, the fifth straight for the Cubs down the stretch, leaves them with a five and a half game lead in the Central over the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, and puts them in even better position to lock up that divisional crown in the season’s closing week.
Here is where things stand as we enter play on Saturday:
Cubs’ Magic Number for Playoff Spot: 6
The Cubs’ magic number has been slowly dwindling in recent days thanks to the quality play of teams trying to get into the National League playoffs at the bottom of the race, but the good news for the Cubs is that their divisional magic number now matches their number to clinch a playoff spot, standing at just six with nine games left to play in the season.
Winning the division would be big for the Cubs, as they would then get home-field advantage in the first round and would lock in a top-three seed in the postseason.
The Cardinals and Reds are currently battling for the second place spot in the Central, with the winner getting a seed between four and six and the loser having to potentially settle for the seventh or eighth seed in the race.
If the Season Ended Today…
The Cubs are still holding on to a one-game lead over the Atlanta Braves for the second seed in the National League, which would still pit them against the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Phillies.
Things continue to develop in this department however, as the surging Reds have won six games in a row and are currently tied with the Cardinals for second place in the National League Central. The Reds, a team picked by many to be a division contender earlier this season, could be a scary opponent in round one for any club, and the Cubs will definitely be keeping a close eye on that squad in the season’s closing week.
As for the Braves, the Cubs not only hold a one-game lead on Atlanta in the race for the second seed, but they also have a one-game lead in intradivisional-record, the tiebreaker that would be used to settle a tie between the teams at the end of the season. That makes the Cubs’ last series against the Pirates even more important, as it could put a hammerlock on the second seed for the North Siders.
What’s Coming This Weekend
The Cardinals, after sweeping a doubleheader Friday,will play the Pirates this evening. The Reds are still playing the White Sox in Cincinnati, while the Braves are taking on the Mets.
The Cubs will continue their series with the Twins, who are still chasing the White Sox for the top spot in the American League Central. Alec Mills will go up against Michael Pineda in his first start since throwing a no-hitter against the Brewers.