Cubs Playoffs

Breaking down the Cubs' tiebreaking scenarios for wild card spots

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The Chicago Cubs enter their final two series of the season with a one-game lead over the Miami Marlins in the race for a wild card spot, and they are also tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second wild card slot in the National League.

The Cubs, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2020, will have a tough road ahead this week as they take on the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins, but their opponents will face some interesting challenges of their own down the stretch.

With these three teams, along with the Cincinnati Reds, who are 2.5 games back of the Cubs, still n the running for a playoff berth, we thought it would be interesting to answer a simple question: who would advance to the postseason in the event of a tie?

Remember, Major League Baseball got rid of tiebreaking games when they expanded the playoff field prior to the 2022 season, so math is required to determine who is advancing and who will go home.

For the sake of this exercise, we will assume that the Giants will be eliminated, as their elimination number stands at just two in the wild card race, meaning that a combination of two Cubs wins and Giants losses would eliminate San Francisco from playoff contention.

We will also assume that the Phillies, whose magic number for a playoff spot is just two, will not be involved, as they have a five-game lead over the Cubs and Diamondbacks with six games to play in the regular season.

Here are the scenarios:

Cubs and Brewers tie

Okay, this one is extremely far-fetched. The Brewers have a magic number of one to clinch the Central, but if they should get swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, and if the Cubs sweep the Braves, then the final series of the season between the rivals could have big consequences.

If the Cubs were to sweep that series in Milwaukee, the two teams would finish the regular season with identical 88-74 records. The Cubs would then own the tiebreaker over Milwaukee, as they would have won the season series between the teams.

Cubs and Diamondbacks tie

If the Cubs and Diamondbacks finish the season tied, the Diamondbacks would own the tiebreaker thanks to their 6-1 record vs. Chicago this season.

If the two teams tie and both would get wild card spots, then the Cubs would get the lower seed.

Cubs and Marlins tie

In this scenario, the Marlins would own the tiebreaker over the Cubs thanks to a 4-2 record against the North Siders.

If the two teams tie and both would get wild card spots, then the Cubs would get the lower seed.

Cubs and Reds tie

The divisional rivalry tiebreaker would go to the Reds, who eased past the Cubs with a 7-6 record in 13 games this season.

If the two teams tie and both would get wild card spots, then the Cubs would get the lower seed.

Cubs, Diamondbacks, and Marlins tie

Since the Marlins have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cubs and Diamondbacks, they would win a three-way tie between the clubs.

If there were a three-way tie for two spots, then the Diamondbacks’ tiebreaker over the Cubs would apply.

Cubs, Diamondbacks, and Reds tie

The Reds won the season series against both the Cubs and Diamondbacks, meaning they would take down a tiebreaker between the three teams.

If two spots are up for grabs, then the Diamondbacks would own the tiebreaker over the Cubs for the second spot.

Cubs, Marlins, and Reds tie

This one gets slightly more complicated, as the Marlins and Reds split their season series at three victories apiece.

In the event that the three teams tie for one spot, the Cubs would be eliminated from the proceedings, and then the Reds and Marlins would proceed to the next tiebreaker, which is intradivision record. The Reds were 20-29 against the National League Central this season, while the Marlins are 25-24 against the NL East, giving them the edge.

The Reds do have three more games against a Central opponent as they take on the St. Louis Cardinals, while the Marlins have three games remaining against the Mets, but those results won’t be enough to change this tiebreaker.

Cubs, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Reds tie

A four-way tie would in all likelihood involve two spots, barring a miracle comeback from the Giants or Padres.

In this scenario, the Reds and Marlins would take the two spots, as they both won their season series against the Cubs and Diamondbacks. The Marlins would then own the higher seed over Cincinnati thanks to their superior intradivisional record.

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