It is a truly strange time in the baseball calendar, when the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” comes to life, and that will be true for Chicago Cubs fans in coming days.
That is because the Cubs, locked into a heated battle for a wild card spot in the National League, may need to rely on two of their biggest rivals for help in the coming days.
Before we get into the who and the why, here is the picture. The Cubs currently own a wild card spot in the National League, holding a one-game lead over the Miami Marlins and a 2.5-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds. They also trail the Arizona Diamondbacks by one-half game for the second spot.
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If the Cubs could jump into that second spot, they would face the top wild card team, which at this point will likely be the Philadelphia Phillies, but even if they earn the third spot, they would still reach the playoffs for the first time since 2020, and would in all likelihood face the Milwaukee Brewers.
Here’s where the idea of setting rivalry aside comes into play. That’s because the Diamondbacks, who own a tiebreaker over the Cubs in the standings, will be in Chicago to face the White Sox this week at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Any win the White Sox can get against the Diamondbacks in that series could help the Cubs if they want to jump up in the standings, but it will also help separate the clubs since there are realistically four teams still battling for two wild card spots in the National League.
In addition to the White Sox, Cubs fans could also root for the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s because the Cardinals wrap up their season with three games against the Milwaukee Brewers and three games against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Brewers are just one win away from clinching the Central Division title, but if the Cardinals can somehow sweep them in Milwaukee, then the Cubs could potentially have a chance to still win the Central with a sweep of their own when the two clubs play on Friday. This scenario would require the Cubs to sweep the Atlanta Braves, but if we’re talking hypotheticals, then that’s what would need to happen.
In addition, the Reds are one of the teams still in the wild card hunt, and if they’re still hanging around when the weekend arrives, then the Cardinals beating Cincinnati would be a boost to the Cubs.
The Reds, like the Diamondbacks, own the tiebreaker over the Cubs, having won seven of the 13 games played between the teams, so the Cubs cannot finish in a tie with them if they hope to reach the postseason.
As for the Cubs, they’ll face three games in Atlanta starting on Tuesday against the Braves, and then three games in Milwaukee to wrap up the regular season. They have a magic number of six for a playoff spot, meaning that a combination of six Cubs wins and Marlins losses would land Chicago in the postseason.