September 17, 2008

Looking ahead

Since the Cubs are now at 99.9977% to reach the playoffs, I feel safe in talking about the PLAYOFFS now. First, the NL playoff teams, as they stand today

Mets (WC)

It would be extremely shocking if the Cubs and Dodgers lose their divisions at this point. The only real contenders left for playoff spots are the Brewers, Phillies, Mets, and Astros. Sadly, I see the Astros continuiug their post-hurricane slump, so the only real contenders left are the Brewers, Phils, and Mets. here are the possiblilities

1. Brewers win WC, Phllies win NL east
2. Brewers in WC, Mets win NL east
3. Mets win WC, Phillies win NL east
4. Phillies win WC, Mets win NL east

In situations 1 and 2, the Cubs play the Dodgers, in 3 and 4, the Cubs play the WC leaders. If we look purely at Nate Silver's Secret Sauce , we can get some insight on what would be best for the Cubs.

Note: The secret sauce is a pretty simple formula - Nate determined that the 3 variables that best suggest success in the playoffs are Team Defense, Starting Pitching, and having a Shutdown Closer. Simply rank each team in these categories, add up the 3 rankings, and the lowest score has the best Secret Sauce rating. Here's how things break down for these teams

Cubs: Fielding - 1, Pitching - 3, Closer - 20, total - 24
Phils: Fielding - 14, Pitching - 20, Closer - 1, total - 35
Brew Crew: Fielding - 10, Pitching - 17, Closer - 9, total - 36
Mets: Fielding - 8, Pitching - 14, Closer - 22, Total - 44
Dodgers: Fielding - 17, Pitching - 11, Closer - 16, total - 44

Thus, clearly the Cubs should be rooting for the Phillies to win the division, as we would get the Dodgers or Mets in the first round (even better would be the mets, since that calculation was made using Wagner's numbers, and their BP is even more in shambles now). A 1-game playoff for the Brewers and Mets (as mentioned in an earlier post) would be especially choice, as it would weaken both of them heading in to the playoffs. My personal feeling though is that I would rather play the Dodgers - Manny is their only star offensive player, and none of their starters scare me. The Mets at least have Santana and some legitimate hitters (Wright, Beltran, Reyes, Delgado) that we would have to worry about, flammabile bullpen notwithstanding. They would throw Santana at us twice in a 5 game series, which would be tough to beat...though we have beaten the Brewers on both of Sabathia's starts...(power lefties...)

On a personal note, I'm hoping that the Cubs split their remaning games with the Brewers (losing tonight would be fine since it's Sheets v Marquis, our most average pitcher). That way, we don't clinch on Thursday, and could clinch on Saturday instead vs. the Cardinals. I only say this because I will BE at that game (thanks to my awesome in-laws). That would be freaking awesome. What would be doubly awesome would be if Holy Shit Carlos Zambrano gets pushed back a day, due to his high pitch count in the no-hitter and need to cruise into the playoffs, and starts that game, because we love us some Carlos. Lilly is great too though...just glad that we won't get Marquis. I have a tendency to get 5th/spot starters at Cubs games that I go to for some reason so it will be nice to break the trend.

I'm curious how our playoff rotation will shake down. We probably won't have to go to a 3 man rotation, because who do you leave out of Zambrano, Harden, Dempster, Lilly? I could *maybe* see bouncing Lilly, depending on how well a team hits lefties. He should be great against the Dodgers though, if he can pitch in their stadium. My feeling is that we will see Z, Demp, Harden, Lilly, but I have no idea how it will break down. What a rotation!

Anyway, Go Cubs Go! (and Go Phillies Go!)