What a difference a week makes, huh? I know you’re not supposed to open with a tired cliché, but it fits in this case. When we last checked in on the Cubs’ playoff odds, they were on a collision course with the Cardinals as the rivals played disparate brands of baseball. Despite falling behind in the standings, the Cubs were clinging to the best postseason odds in the division and had just strengthened their roster at the deadline.
The Cardinals stood pat in a display of either hubris, stupidity, or both, and the results since have been borderline shocking. The Cubs dropped as low as 70.3% and had a lead of as little as 17.4 points in the odds race (July 30), but that has since broken wide open.
As of Friday morning, the Cubs sit at nearly 91% while the Cardinals have plummeted to 28.7%, a gap of 62.1 points. That’s more than 3.5 times as big as it was just nine days ago, a testament to the sea of change brought about by the Cubs’ additions of Nicholas Castellanos, Tony Kemp, and Ian Happ, with even Jonathan Lucroy providing a boost in his very limited action so far.
Since limping out of St. Louis after an 8-0 loss that saw them stripped of their big boy pants like real-life versions of Clark, the Cubs have made like a pack of 30-50 feral hogs as they rampage over everything in their path. They’ve won six of seven games and appear to finally be playing with the hunger Theo Epstein has tried to entice since the end of last season.
There’s still a lot of baseball left to play, with divisional matchups comprising most of that, so this could change in a hurry. That said, the Cubs are clearly playing better than anyone else in the Central right now and have a great opportunity to push these odds even higher.