Even with a frustrating walk-off loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road, the Chicago Cubs managed to clinch a postseason berth. It was official after the Philadelphia Phillies lost both games in their doubleheader versus the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night. Chicago still has some work to do to win their division. Due to the differences in games played between the Cubs and St Louis Cardinals, it’s tough to predict a magic number. It appears they’ll need to win 2-3 more games to secure the NL Central crown. They play two more games against Pittsburgh, and a three-game series versus their crosstown-rival Chicago White Sox to close out the regular season. Barring a complete collapse, the Cubs will be no lower than the third seed in this expanded bracket. The Atlanta Braves currently sit at the two seed, one game up on Chicago.
A Successful Regular Season
This shortened 2020 season has been a bounce back year for the Cubs. They have over-exceeded expectations thus far. Not many people had them winning the division, in fact, the Cincinnati Reds looked like the clear favorite prior to Opening Day. Chicago has taken charge of a very tough division, one that may even get four teams into the postseason. Surprisingly, they have relied on their starting pitching to carry them throughout the season. It’s the reason they got off to such a strong start. Yu Darvish has emerged as the team’s ace and has been an NL Cy Young candidate for most of the season. Pitcher Kyle Hendricks continues to show why he is nicknamed “The Professor”, and Alec Mills has stepped up to fill a major hole in the rotation. Mills went from a reliever to solidifying himself in the rotation — he’s also added a no-hitter to his resume. They’ve made life easy for first-time manager David Ross. Ross just became the Cubs seventh manager to make the postseason in his first year, and he joins some good company.
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 23, 2020
The Last Run
This season is already a success, but Chicago doesn’t want to just make the postseason. Their goal is another championship, and they will have to rely on their star hitters to accomplish that. With the exception of a couple hitters, such as Ian Happ and Jason Heyward, the team has struggled offensively. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo are supposed to be the premier bats in Chicago’s lineup, but none of them have played exceptionally well. Bryant has been the biggest concern because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. His stats are very disappointing across the board, and it definitely hasn’t helped his case for a massive contract extension. It’s no secret that this may be the last run that these core players have with each other, so they will need to step up in the postseason unless they want to be sent home early. All three of the aforementioned players can catch fire at any moment and dominate at the plate.
If the postseason started right now, the third-seeded Cubs would play the six-seeded Miami Marlins in the wild-card round. All games in the first round will be played at the home ballpark of the higher-seeded team, so the Marlins would be coming to Wrigley Field for a three-game series. The rest of the NL Playoff field would be as followed: 1. Los Angeles Dodgers vs 8. Milwaukee Brewers, 2. Atlanta Braves vs 7. Cincinnati Reds, and 4. San Diego Padres vs 5. St Louis Cardinals. All of these are subject to change, and will probably not look the same when everything is said and done. The AL Playoff Race isn’t as close, so their seeding is much more accurate. Here’s how the AL is stacking up: 1. Tampa Bay Rays vs 8. Toronto Blue Jays, 2. Chicago White Sox vs 7. Cleveland Indians, 3. Oakland Athletics vs 6. Houston Astros, and 4. Minnesota Twins vs 5. New York Yankees. This newly expanded playoff bracket will certainly provide us with some intriguing matchups throughout the postseason. It’s shaping up to be an exciting time for the baseball world.
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