As more games are played during the Major League Baseball season for the Chicago Cubs, the diminishing schedule begins to play a more crucial role. Not only is the number of games important but who is on the schedule is pertinent as well. As we stand in the middle of August, playoff races are beginning to mature. Besides the National League West and East, no other division in the league has a team atop the division with more than a 4.5-game lead. This season has offered a new caveat: the balanced schedule.
In years past, teams within weaker divisions had great opportunity to beat up the lackluster teams of their respective division several more times a year. It all changed in 2023, as the number of games with division opponents was cut down significantly. For the Cubs, a confluence of team camaraderie and a beneficial schedule may propel the Northsiders into mid-October.
Before the All-Star break, the Cubs were reportedly heavy sellers. Well, a lot has changed over the last several weeks. As of today, the Cubs are 19-11 since the Midsummer Classic and currently have the sixth-best run differential in MLB.
For the first time since 2020, the Cubs may earn a spot in the MLB Postseason. With approximately 6 weeks left in the regular season, the Cubs are vying for not only a Wild Card spot but the National League Central crown as well. Of all 15 N.L. teams, the Cubs have the easiest remaining schedule.
Of the Cubs' remaining 43 games, 20 will be played against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago White Sox. All five of those teams are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to run differential.
In terms of strength of schedule, the Cubs' record versus the remaining opponents equates to a win percentage of .484. Two of the Cubs' biggest foes, the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, are in the middle of the pack when it comes to strength of schedule.
Crazier things have happened, especially for the Cubs. Now is not the time for complacency to take over. Chicago has struggled in close games, going 13-14 in one-run contests. Daytime first pitch has also not benefited the Cubs (25-28). Undoubtedly, the Cubs have a legitimate shot at the postseason, however, there are aspects in which the Cubs will need to shore up in order to make some noise in the field of 12.