Quantifying Hope: Not Even Beating Rays Can Pull Cubs from Odds Nosedive

The Cubs managed to take two out of three from the Rays, but their playoff hopes dimmed due to that ugly sweep at the hands of the Reds. Dropping four of six since our last look at their postseason odds saw the Cubs fall nearly four points to just a 14.2% chance at playing more than 162 games. They are tied with the Pirates despite currently sitting four games back of them in the standings, which is something of a head-scratcher.

Even stranger is that the Cubs and Cardinals are separated by 24 points in the playoff odds calculation while just three-thousandths of a point keep them from being tied for last in the NL Central. The moral of the story here is that the projections lean very heavily on preseason odds, so the results could end up varying wildly from what we see below.

The next 10 games will have a lot to say about whether the Cubs can climb out of this nosedive, as they face three contenders in the Padres (57.7%), Angels (22.7%), and Giants (47.6%) before returning home to Wrigley. Then the Cubs get a day off before facing the Pirates and Orioles (41.2%) ahead of their two-game trip to London to face the Cardinals. Though the Angels don’t have great odds, they’re over .500 at the moment and have a couple of players who can win games all on their own.

One other factor here is that it appears Justin Steele may only miss one start due to a very minor left forearm issue that forced him to depart his last start after three innings. Good pitching allows even mediocre teams to get hot, and Steele has proven that he is one of the most effective pitchers in the league.

I’ve got a pretty good feeling that next week’s installment of QH might already offer a very clear picture of where the Cubs truly stand. My feeling isn’t quite so good when it comes to what that picture will look like.

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