For the first time in a long time, the St. Louis Cardinals will not be involved in the chase for the National League Central Division crown.
The Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, and Milwaukee Brewers are separated by less than three games atop the National League Central and all three teams enjoyed an off day on Thursday.
If the season ended today, both the Reds and Cubs would be on the outside looking in with the Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, and San Francisco Giants securing the three Wild Card berths. But the NL Central could look a lot different by the end of August.
Cubs have favorable schedule leading toward NL Central clash with Reds.
The Cincinnati Reds have had a tough go of things during the month of August. The Reds have lost eight of nine and sit at 60-57 with 45 games left to play. Up next for the Redlegs is a three game trip to Pittsburgh. But after that, things get very difficult.
The Reds will play three games against the Bucs before returning home for two games against the Cleveland Guardians and a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Reds then embark on 10-game road trip to play the Los Angels Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, and San Francisco Giants.
The Milwaukee Brewers schedule is equally as difficult. The Brew Crew head out on the road to play nine game in 10 days against the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Texas Rangers. Milwaukee then returns home to play the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres.
@ Pittsburgh Pirates
@ Toronto Blue Jays
vs. Cleveland Guardians
vs. Chicago White Sox
vs. Toronto Blue Jays
vs. Kansas City Royals
@ Los Angeles Angels
@ Detroit Tigers
@ Arizona Diamondbacks
@ Pittsburgh Pirates
@ San Francisco Giants
vs. Milwaukee Brewers
But the Chicago Cubs have a cakewalk moving forward. The Cubbies play three games at the Rogers Centre against the Toronto Blue Jays before returning home to play the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. The Cubs then go on the road to play the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates.
At the same time the Cincinnati Reds will play three games in the Bay Area against the Giants, the Brewers and Cubs will clash in Wrigley Field. Quite likely, this three-game series could determine who's leading the NL Central.
The Chicago Cubs then begin the month of September with four games in three days agains the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park while the Milwaukee Brewers head to Philadelphia to play the reigning NL champs.
Will the 10-game road trip out west virtually eliminate the Reds from the NL Central race before the final month of the season? Will the Cubs run roughshod over their opponents in the next few weeks? Will the Brewers survive the gauntlet they're about the face?
The month of August certainly favors the Chicago Cubs. For a team that was on the brink of selling at the MLB trade deadline, the Cubbies could be the team to beat down the stretch in the NL Central. Both the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers will get their chance.