The Chicago Cubs have now won six straight series, including a weekend set against the best team in baseball, and their playoff odds continue to rise along with their confidence on the diamond.
When baseball was on its All-Star break, the Cubs were 42-47, seven games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central and owners of a 9.5% chance of making the postseason, according to FanGraphs.
Since then, the Cubs have gone 16-7, including a winning streak of eight straight games, and they have won six consecutive series after losing two-of-three to the Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field.
All of that winning, coinciding with the cooldown of the Cincinnati Reds and several other major National League contenders, has the Cubs firmly back in the playoff hunt, and has even lifted them into the third NL wild card spot after winning two-of-three against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field.
After those two victories, the Cubs now have a 33.6% chance of winning the Central Division, as they are currently one and a half games behind the Brewers.
What’s even more impressive, according to FanGraphs, is that the Cubs are projected to win 84 games, and now have a 52.9% chance of making the postseason, a spectacular improvement over just a matter of weeks.
As a final note, the Cubs had a 0.2% chance of winning the World Series at the All-Star break. While the number still isn’t super-impressive, it too has risen to 1.5%.
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections are even more bullish on the Cubs’ chances. As things stand, they are projected to win 84.8 games, just 0.2 wins fewer than Milwaukee.
Baseball Prospectus also gives them a 44.4% chance of winning the division, and their total playoff odds are all the way up to 61.6%.
To make things even more intriguing, the Cubs currently have just three games scheduled against current playoff clubs for the next three weeks, a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend.
Before a month-ending series against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, the Cubs will have home games against the White Sox and Royals and road series against the Tigers and Pirates.
The club’s September schedule does get harder, as they will have to face the Reds in Cincinnati and then host the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. All three of those clubs could still be in playoff contention when that stretch arrives.
The Cubs also face season-ending series on the road in Atlanta and in Milwaukee, though the Braves could have the division and top-record sewn up by that point in the campaign.