Goatriders of the Apocalypse

On the march to 100 wins

I'm just updating an older post; go read it for an explanation of what I'm doing.

Last I wrote about the Cubs' strength of schedule, I anticipated them having a .702 win percentage over the past six games. That didn't come to pass, mostly because a team can't go 4.21200 and 1.78. They did go 4 and 2, which I think is close enough. (5 and 1 would have been better, but I'm not greedy.)

The Cubs have fewer home games left on the schedule, and tougher opposition to face than they did a week ago, but their win expectation has actually gone up. Why? The Cubs have been doing a lot of winning big, which has increased their win expection - remember, I'm using a variation of Pythagorean win percentage, which is based on a team's runs scored and runs allowed. The rather embarassing loss to the Nationals wasn't enough to offset this.

So the current expectation, based on the log5 method, is 99.4 wins, just a tick above the 98.9 wins from the last report. Same as last time, right now it looks like the Cubs' big test is going to be the four-game set against the Mets. Everyone is talking about the final series against the Brewers, but the Mets are (just slightly) a tougher opponent than the Brewers, and its a four game set.

It may not matter, though. Based on the model, the Cubs are expected to be at 96 wins by the time that series rolls around. The Cubs' magic number to clinch a playoff spot right now is 23 games, so the Brewers would have to go 24 and 7 to keep the Cubs from at least clinching a playoff spot by then, or a .774 win percentage. That's not impossible, strictly speaking, but I have to say it's not likely.

So long as we're on that note, the Cubs are expected to have between 97-98 wins to start the series in Milwaukee, again based on the model. That's 16-17 wins; their magic number to win the division is 27. The Brewers would have to go 19 and 9, or a .679 win percentage, to keep the Cubs from clinching the division by the start of that series.

Now, this is simply a model, anda pretty simplistic one at that. (I'm not modelling individual pitcher matchups, which is the one thing I really wish I was doing - I'm working on it, but it's very difficult to figure out probably starters a month in advance.) And there's a reason they play the games, after all.

Apparently the widget is giving people fits, but here's a link. Check the second tab.

Oy...

After the 4th paragraph, my head started spinning and I had to lay down.

Go Cubs!

THE Important Series

For some reason, I keep thinking that the upcoming series against the Phils is THE important series -- a bellwether, if you will. And to wrap it around into next week, this homestand will spell out how the Cubs do the rest of the season.

As for the series with the Phillies, I can't explain it but they worry me more than the Mets. It just seems like the Mets are such an aging team and as we near the end of the season they will be even more hobbled. The Mets series may seem more important to many because of how late in the season it occurs, but if the Cubs don't have it wrapped up (or at least within a game or two) by the beginning of that series, obviously it takes on more importance than it should.

The Phillies are very beatable for the Cubs. Regardless of who pitches for them, we should have Kosuke, Edmonds, and Fontenot starting with Ward as to go-to pinch-hitter. What do they all have in common? They're lefties. The right side of the Phillies infield (Utley & Howard) have the most errors of any 1B-2B combo (according to ESPN Sunday Night Baseball [not Joe Morgan]). Howard has 14 and Utley has 12, so we need to hammer the right side of the infield.

Finally, this homestand (8/28-9/3) as a whole is very important to the Cubs' season. If they don't win 5 out of 7, I'm going to be a little worried. If they go 4 of 7 (a split with Philly and a series-win against the Astros) I can live with it, but I won't be comfortable. Here's why:

Brewer's sched 8/29-9/10:
3 gms @ PIT
3 gms vs NYM
4 gms vs SD
3 gms vs CIN
(then they play 4 against the aforementioned Phillies)

They are going to win 9 or 10 of those 13 games, if not more.

After the upcoming homestand, the Cubs have a slight respite but they cannot lose focus as they are often wont to do against lesser teams:

3 gms @ CIN
3 gms @ STL
3 gms @ HOU

Then Cubs host the Brew Crew.

I'm scared and I'm babbling. Hold me...

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