The Milwaukee Brewers clinched a playoff spot by having an amazing September, but what about the Chicago Cubs? Did they completely collapse, or did the Brewers just play fantastic baseball?
The Milwaukee Brewers are riding a six-game winning streak. They have won 17 of their last 19 games. They also own a 19-4 record in September. However, the Chicago Cubs have gone 9-14 since the calendar flipped from August to September, and have been eliminated from any chance at a playoff spot.
What were the playoff odds on September 1st?
The Chicago Cubs had a 73-63 record on September 1st and owned a 2 1/2 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Milwaukee Brewers were three games behind the Cubs for the second Wild Card.
According to FanGraphs playoff odds calculator, the Cubs had a 41.6% chance of earning a Wild Card birth, and a 76.2% chance of making the playoffs on September 1st.
The Milwaukee Brewers had an 8.1% chance of making the playoffs, and a 10.7% chance of earning the Wild Card on September 1st.
What happened next?
Well, the Chicago Cubs own an .808 OPS as a team in September, so the issue wasn’t on offense. For comparison’s sake, the Milwaukee Brewers own a .757 team OPS in September.
The Cubs also own a 3.95 team ERA in September, so it’s not like the pitching was a huge problem. They weren’t as good as the Brewers and their 2.77 team ERA in September, but a 3.95 ERA isn’t terrible.
They also have four blown saves in five chances. That’s not helpful. The Brewers have 11 saves and four blown saves in September.
They did lose Javy Baez for the season. However, the Milwaukee Brewers have been without Christian Yelich for 14 games, and they’ve gone 12-2 without him. The Brewers were also still feeling the effects of injuries to starting pitchers, so health wasn’t an issue.
The Chicago Cubs just lost…a lot. While the Brewers were busy finding ways to win, the Cubs kept finding ways to lose. The recent weekend sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals appeared to take the wind out of the Cubs’ sails and left them with a steep climb in a short period. A pair of losses to a Pittsburgh Pirates team that is clearly ready to get far, far away from each other has ended the Cubs season.
To go from a 76% chance at a playoff spot to 0% in 25 days is a collapse. To go from 8% to 100% in 25 days is an amazing run. What’s odd is that there really isn’t an obvious reason to point at as to why the Cubs lost. They just…started losing and really haven’t stopped. The Brewers can point to rapid improvements in pitching and timely hitting and clutch defense when they think about their September record. However, even the Cubs are struggling to point to a reason why they collapse. It just happened, and now they’re going home in a few days.