Chicago Cubs reduce magic number despite rough series

By: Alex Patt

The ultimate goal for the Chicago Cubs this past series in Milwaukee was inch closer to another NL Central title. After losing the first two games, the Cubs took the finale by a score of 6-4. That win put the games 4.0 up in the central and reduced the magic number to 19 with 23 games left to play. Winning just one may not have been the most desired result of the series, but they’ll take it.

While the Cubs are in first, the Brewers and Cardinals entered Thursday just a half-game apart and playing for a wild card spot. There is one more regular-season series against the Brewers next Monday at Wrigley Field, one more opportunity for the Cubs to create big separation between them and the Crew. Overall things are looking good for the Cubs, it would just be ideal to wrap it up as soon as possible with no drama.

In the meantime they have a four-game set with the Washington Nationals, a team that is not in a playoff race anymore but still not a team to take lightly. Cubs will face Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer in this four game-set while the Boys in Blue will send out Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels and Mike Montgomery. Even with Daniel Murphy on the Cubs and Matt Adams gone, there is still Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Juan Soto, and Anthony Rendon to deal with. Biggest area of weakness on the Nationals right now is their bullpen, which the Cubs will want to take advantage of like they did in the last series against them.

Speaking of bullpen, big news came out yesterday when Joe Maddon expressed his doubts about closer Brandon Morrow’s return this season. Pedro Strop has been the acting closer in his absence and has done overall a good job, but not having a closer in the final stretch and postseason run is still a tough blow. Luckily the Cubs have options in Strop, Steve Cishek, and Carl Edwards Jr. to serve in his place and there may be a “Closer by Committee” utilized with these guys. Hopefully bullpen as a whole can rebound after a rough series in Milwaukee.

Other Cubs notes:

-Cole Hamels was named NL pitcher of the month (0.69 ERA and 1.00 WHIP)

-GM Jed Hoyer was rumored as a candidate for the vacant Mets GM job

-Seven more games starting Thursday (9/6) before their next off day

-Game one vs. Nats will be Strasburg against Hendricks, a 2017 NLDS game one rematch

-Joe Maddon has not made many friends with umpires, evident after his ejection a few days ago

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