September 20th. That’s the day the Chicago Cubs‘ playoff dreams were put to rest for the 2021 season.
After a flurry of moves at the trade deadline ended with the Cubs’ most talented players being shipped out of Wrigleyville, the early elimination didn’t come as a surprise. Since the beginning of August the Cubs are 16-30, and outside of a seven-game winning streak, have looked like quite the pushover.
With just under two weeks until the regular season wraps up, the playoff race is in full gear, and despite already being eliminated, the Cubs could have a big impact on the outcome.
The Cubs have 10 games left on their schedule, and seven of them are against their arch-rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Although the playoffs are out of reach, the Cubs have an incredible opportunity – crush the Cardinals playoff dreams.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Cardinals have a strong grip on the second National League Wild Card spot, leading the Reds and Phillies by 5 games and the Padres by 6.5 games.
That’s certainly a comfortable lead with so few games remaining, but bigger leads have collapsed with less time to play. If the Cubs can take five or six out of the seven games against the Cardinals, they could deal a crushing blow to St. Louis’ playoff hopes, especially if one of the teams chasing them can get hot.
Beating the Cardinals that much would be hard at any point, but right now it’ll be even harder. Forget the state of the Cubs roster – the Cardinals are currently on a 12-game winning streak. They’re a team playing their best baseball with their eyes set on a postseason appearance. While it’ll be tough for the Cubs to throw water on the flaming hot Cardinals, the motivation of crushing your rivals’ playoff dreams should be massive motivation.
Rivalry aside, the Cubs’ final 10 games will weigh heavily on their 2022 draft position. After Wednesday night’s loss to the Minnesota Twins, the Cubs moved past them for the 7th pick in next year’s draft.
Realistically, the Cubs still have a wide range of outcomes as far as the draft order goes. As of Thursday morning, the Cubs were four games away from having the 5th pick in the draft, and five games away from having the 12th pick in the draft.
Over the season’s final three series, a lot can change for the Cubs. Whether it’d be more fun to see them crush the Cardinals’ playoff dreams or play awfully and move higher in the draft order probably depends on who you ask. For me, I’d rather see them squash the Cardinals’ postseason hopes, no matter how unlikely that outcome may be.