On Wednesday, the Cubs topped the Pirates yet again and in doing so moved to a season-best 38 games over .500. That’s significant when you think about it. Why? It is so because the Cubs can now play .500 baseball over the remainder of the regular season and still get to 100 wins. They can, you know, cruise like Usain Bolt nearing the finish line …
Confidence! So to mark this semi-important point in the season for the Bear Children, let’s fill this target up with some bullet-points …
- Speaking of 100 wins, the Cubs haven’t reached that benchmark since 1935, and they’ve won 100 games in a season just five times.
- If the Cubs’ current winning percentage of .644 holds up, then they’ll wind up winning 104 games. That would be their highest tally since 1910. As for the SportsLine Projection System, it presently tabs the Cubs for 103 wins, rounded down.
- The Cubs, though, have the remaining schedule in their favor. Opponents they’ve got left on the schedule have an average 2016 winning percentage of .481. That makes for what’s by the easiest remaining schedule of any NL Central team. They’ll play the narrow majority of their remaining games at home, and almost half of their remaining games come against the Reds and Brewers. Speaking of the Reds and Brewers, the Cubs are a combined 19-6 against those teams this season.
- As impressive as the Cubs have been in 2016, they’ve actually underperformed their baseline indicators. Based on runs scored and runs allowed, the Cubs should be 89-43 instead of “merely” 85-47. Look at the BaseRuns standings available at FanGraphs, which correct for some of the sequencing and clustering effects inherent in run differential, and the Cubs profile as a true 88-44 team, which, again, is better than their actual record. As great as the Cubs have been on the wins-and-losses front, they’ve played even better at a fundamental level.
- Framed another way, the Cubs presently have 85 wins. That means they could lose out and still be tied for 34th place in franchise history for wins in a season. Bear in mind the Cubs in 2016 are playing their 141st season in the National League.
- Lest we lose ourselves in all the assumptions, let’s point out that, yes, the 2016 Cubs are capable of playing losing baseball on an extended basis. In July, for instance, they went 12-14 and were out-scored by the opposition for the month.
- Also, let it be said that the Cubs’ franchise record for wins, 116 by the 1906 model, is obviously out of reach.
It’s more than just getting to 100 wins, though, that allows the Cubs to coast the rest of the way. They have a hefty 15.0-games lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central, and they’re seven games clear of the Nationals for top seed in the NL and home-field advantage throughout the NL bracket. As well, SportsLine gives the Cubs a flat 100 percent chance of making the playoffs as division champs. They’re presently the only team in baseball with such lofty odds.
For Joe Maddon’s club, the focus naturally turns to the postseason. They’ve never admit as much, especially in early September, but that’s the heart-of-hearts reality. Get the bullpen healthy. Go to that six-man rotation the rest of the way in order to keep the frontline starters as fresh as possible for the playoffs. Continue using the bench to give the regulars periodic rest and mental-recovery days, as Maddon already does so well. Do all of that, and 100 wins for the first time in more than eight decades should still be easily within reach. That, of course, isn’t the prevailing goal on the North Side for 2016, but it’s something.
Source: CBS Sports / The Cubs are now free to coast like Usain Bolt all the way to 100 wins