Even though they tied for the National League lead with 95 wins, the Chicago Cubs won’t be playing in a postseason series this year — because they couldn’t win when they needed to.
The Chicago Cubs should be playing in the National League Division Series, without a doubt. For most of the 2018 season, the North Siders were the best team the National League had to offer.
Through 162 games played in the regular season, the Cubs won 95 of them. They tied for the most wins in the National League through 162 games. And yet, the Cubs won’t even be playing in a postseason series.
Why? Because they absolutely blew it.
But they didn’t just blow it against the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card Game, which was one of the most thrilling one-game playoffs we’ve ever seen. The Cubs blew it long before that game even happened.
Not only did the Cubs lose back-to-back games at home that would’ve advanced them straight to the NLDS, but they let the NL Central title slip right through their fingers. As late as September, the Cubs led the Milwaukee Brewers by as many as five games in the division.
But they let their foot up off the gas a little too soon and went just 16-12 throughout the final month of the season, while the Brewers charged up from behind, utilizing an eight-game win streak in the process, and tied Chicago with 95 regular season wins apiece.
After the Cubs failed to stop the Brewers through 162 games, a Game 163 was needed to decide a champion. The Cubs had the advantage of playing in front of their home fans at Wrigley Field, and just needed one more victory to seal the deal and advance to the NLDS. But they couldn’t get it done, falling to Milwaukee 3-1 to officially relinquish the division title.
The very next night, the Cubs had another chance to get it done against Colorado. Keep in the mind, the Rockies also played a Game 163 the night before on the West Coast. After losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rockies then boarded a plane and traveled two time zones forward to Chicago for a must-win game the very next day. They should’ve been completely gassed, and the Cubs should’ve had every advantage.
On Tuesday night, the Cubs had every opportunity to seal the deal in the NL Wild Card Game. Colorado only scored one run through nine innings, thanks to a six-inning effort by Jon Lester followed by some outstanding relief pitching. The Rockies even basically gift-wrapped the Cubs an opportunity in the seventh inning when catcher interference was called on catcher Drew Butera with two outs, loading the bases for the Cubs. A simple base hit from Jason Heyward likely would’ve brought in two runs for Chicago, and that’s all they would’ve needed. But Heyward struck out swinging.
One base hit there, and the Cubs would’ve been headed to the NLDS.
It wasn’t until the 13th inning when Colorado’s Tony Wolters singled home the go-ahead run to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, Scott Oberg struck out Albert Almora Jr. to officially end Chicago’s season.
Through 13 innings of a must-win playoff game at home, the Cubs could only manage to score one run. This was the team that tied for the most wins in the National League.
The Cubs had two chances to get it done on their home field, and they couldn’t do it. And before it even came to that, they couldn’t lock up the NL Central when they led by as many as five games in September.
Don’t blame the wild card format for the fact that the Cubs won’t be playing in a postseason series this year.
Blame the Cubs, because they absolutely blew it.