Quantifying Hope: Avoiding Sweep Vaults Cubs to 12.1% Playoff Odds

The Cubs rode a one-game winning streak into Milwaukee and now have a chance to win consecutive contests for just the fourth time since May 4-5 against the Brewers. The last time they won three or more in a row was when they swept the Astros and then took the first game from the Red Sox back in late April. That inability to string together multiple wins has been as big a problem as their 14-19 record in one-run games.

The result of those repeated failures is a last-place team that is now 10.5 games behind the division leaders and four games out of the Wild Card. With their 88-loss pace, the Cubs have fallen to 12.1% playoff odds. That’s nearly three points higher than they were prior to beating the Giants on Thursday, so things could have been even worse. Only the Reds (10.5%) currently sit below the Cubs right now according to FanGraphs.

The chicken-egg conundrum of injuries and poor play continued as Javier Assad was placed on the IL with a forearm extensor strain that could possibly sideline him for the remainder of the season. Even if he’s able to make it back much sooner, the pitching carousel continues to spin with so much centrifugal force that more riders are sure to be thrown off. Assad was the 14th Cubs pitcher to hit the IL this year, six of which have been their top starters.

Ben Brown and Jordan Wicks are still on the shelf and figure to be for some time yet, plus Cade Horton is dealing with a lat strain and will likely be treated with kid gloves. The resultant roster issues have the front office seeking help in the form of journeyman righty reliever Vinny Nittoli, about whom Craig Counsell was perhaps a little too honest.

“He’s got a little bit of a unique pitch mix,” Counsell said of the signing. “It’s not velocity. He’s got to be a pitcher when he’s out there. It’s just depth in the organization. We’ll see how it goes.”

I mean, it’s not as though the team could have promoted, say, Ethan Roberts or Hunter Bigge to make good on those internal improvements Jed Hoyer keeps talking about. While the reasons for keeping both relievers at Triple-A are more procedural than competitive, it still sucks to see the Cubs soiling the bed repeatedly and then just throwing the sheets in the laundry turds and all without so much as a pre-rinse.

But hey, maybe they run roughshod over the Brew Crew this weekend to spur a postseason run unlike any we could have predicted. Anyone want to bet on that?

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