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September 19, 2019
With 10 games left, the Chicago Cubs are facing a tough road ahead. They are tied for the National League wild card spot and three games back in the NL Central Division.
The Washington Nationals (82-67) and Chicago Cubs (82-68) hold the two spots at the moment.
The Cubs, who finished last season in a tie with the Milwaukee Brewers for the divisional crown and had to play a one-game playoff, would love to avoid that type of scenario again after losing in the National League Wild Card Game last fall.
Currently, the most likely opponent the Cubs would face off against is the Washington Nationals. The Nats now hold the top Wild Card spot by three games, meaning the Cubs would be away from Wrigley Field: already a bad sign.
The Nationals won’t catch the Braves in the NL East, especially after losing five of seven games to them in two recent series. The Nats, 4-6 in their last 10 games, have also hit a rough patch at exactly the wrong time.
While the Cubs trail the St. Louis Cardinals (84-66) by two games in the NL Central, seven games remain between the two teams. Taking those two series could put the Cubs in control of the division, but losing them could keep them out of the playoffs. The same goes for the Cardinals.
Kyle Hendricks suffers considerably away from the Friendly Confines, recording a 4.76 ERA and a 1.412 WHIP away from home. Against the Nationals this year, he holds an even worse 6.35 ERA, but this is over an admittedly small sample size of 5 2/3 innings.
For the Nationals, they’d likely run perennial Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer in the one-game playoff. Scherzer has been his typical self this year, pitching to a 2.41 ERA with a league-leading 2.19 FIP and 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
The last time these two teams met up in the postseason, the Cubs narrowly squeaked past the Nats in the NLDS in seven games. Though several players have come and gone from each team, many of the key assets remain, offering a similar match up.