The Cubs somehow won last night, despite an ineffective Ted Lilly and a rookie southpaw on the mound for the opposing team. The win, combined with St. Louis’ loss to the Astros, leaves the Cubs up 2 1/2 games over the Brewers and three up over the Cards. They are, it seems, in the driver’s seat.

What does the rest of the season hold in store? A whole lot of the Reds, Astros, and Pirates, that’s what. The Cubs will play each of those teams six times over the next month, three at home and three on the road. This sounds like a good thing since none of those clubs is very good, except that the Cubs are currently sporting a 13-17 record against those three clubs combined. This is disturbing, and should make any Cubs fan a little anxious about the next month.

Besides those three teams, the Cubs will face the Dodgers four times, the Cards five times, and the Marlins three times. The games against the Cards are extremely important, but it’s not necessary to go 4-1 or 5-0 for the Cubs; they just need to prevent the Cards from doing so. As for the Dodgers, the Cubs lost two of three to them in late May, but they could have easily swept the boys in blue: the two losses were both one run games, and the first of those losses came as a result of “bad” Bob Howry and Will Ohman combining to give up four runs in the bottom of the 8th to put the Dodgers up 9-8. The second loss in that series was an extra inning loss. As for the Marlins, they swept the Cubs back in May in Wrigley.

So what to expect in these last 30 games? It’s very hard to predict this far in advance, since injuries and starting pitching matchups will go a long way towards deciding the outcome of games, but I think it’s possible to make a conservative estimate:

Cards: 3-2

Astros: 3-3

Reds: 3-3

Pirates: 4-2

Marlins: 1-2

Dodgers: 2-2

That’s a 16-14 record over the last month, which would leave the Cubs at 84-78 for the year. That’s a very conservative estimate: the Cubs could easily go on a roll and finally start beating up on some bad teams, winning 18 or 20 of 30.

What I want to point out is this: if the Cubs do go 16-14, the Brewers would need to go 18-11 to tie them, 19-10 to win out. The Cards, assuming they lose three of five to the Cubs, would need to go 18-9 in their other 27 games to tie, 19-8 to win out. The teams play each other three times, too, so it’s pretty likely that one streaking team would knock out the other. The Cubs, in other words, probably just need to avoid tanking to win the division. If they go 16-14–which seems like sort of a bad record, given the teams they have to play–either the Brewers or Cards would have to play great ball over the last month to catch them. And who do they have to play? Well, both play a lot of games against the Reds, Pirates, and Astros, but the Cards have to face Philly at home and Arizona on the road, and the Brewers have to face the Padres at home and Atlanta on the road. In other words, they’re going to have a tough time going 18-11 or 18-9. All the Cubs need to do is NOT TANK. Play mediocre ball, and they probably win.

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