The Long Road to October: Final Edition

Josh TollesonCorrespondent IApril 2, 2009

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 28:  Former Chicago Cub third baseman Ron Santo speaks to the fans during a retirement ceremony for Santo's uniform number 10 before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 28, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  The Pirates defeated the Cubs 3-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It's the final stretch, the fourth quarter! It's time to find out how the Cubs will perform in 2009, or at least according to my projections.

This is the fourth and final installment of my Cubs 2009 in-depth preview and predictions. You can read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three to see how the Cubs have fared up to this point.

Through 124 games, I have the Cubs at an impressive 72-52 record. Will they be able to reach 100 games with 38 games remaining? It won't be easy, so let's find out!


August 25—August 27 (three-game series)
Washington Nationals @ Chicago Cubs  

Despite being amongst the worst teams in the majors last season, the Nationals gave the Cubs all they could handle, splitting the season series 3-3.

Expect the Cubs to play lights out the remainder of the way. If Lou sticks to his idea of resting his regulars, we could see Lee and/or Ramirez rested for a game this series. With a comfortable lead in the division, it'll be a playoff atmosphere in Wrigley.

Prediction—Cubs win two of three

August 28—August 30 (three-game series) 
New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs

Speaking of playoff atmospheres, it'll be exciting when the Mets roll into town. Everyone knows Johan Santana thrives in the second half. Will K-Rod still be closing? Or will his health or production falter?

The Mets will likely be in a dog-fight for the NL East, so look for them to bring their absolute best. I have the Mets winning the series, but the Cubs will play well and begin positioning themselves for an October run.

Prediction—Cubs lose two of three

August 31—Sept. 2 (three-game series)
Houston Astros @ Chicago Cubs

We say farewell to our friends from Houston. While the Astros have been known to put late-season runs together, don't expect a pitching-depleted Houston squad to do the same this season.

There's a strong possibility several Astros starters have been dealt away at this point of time, so look for the Cubbies to take advantage of a less-than-stellar Astros ballclub.

Prediction—Cubs win two of three

Sept. 4—Sept. 6 (three-game series)
Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets

The Cubs final get a taste of the Mets' new ballpark. It remains to be seen whether or not it'll be hitter or pitcher-friendly, but the Cubs will be out for revenge following the tough series the Mets brought them the week prior.

I predict the Cubs pitching will be absolutely lights-out in September, and it'll start in New York. Momentum will be built from this series. I like the Cubs to upset the Mets in their backyard.

Prediction—Cubs win two of three

Sept. 7—Sept. 9 (three-game series)
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates

Twenty of the Cubs games in September will be against NL Central rivals, so in the event that they're in a tough division race, the division will be won or lost come September.

However, I predict the Cubs will have the Central wrapped up quite early. Expect plenty of young callups to get looks for the Pirates squad this series. The Cubs offense should have little problem with a youthful Pirates pitching staff.

Prediction—Cubs win two of three


Sept. 11—Sept. 13 (three-game series)
Cincinnati Reds @ Chicago Cubs

Cub fans will be glad to see the Reds for the final time in 2009. Expect a highly- competitive series with plenty of offensive firepower, perhaps from newly-acquired talent from both teams.

The Reds will provide a good test for the Cubs, who follow up this series with a crucial four game affair with Milwaukee. I like the Cubs to keep their momentum rolling.

Prediction—Cubs win two of three


Sept. 14—Sept. 17 (four-game series)
Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs

This could be the season for the Brewers, or simply a tune up for the Cubs as October quickly approaches. Like all games at Wrigley in September, expect an electric atmosphere with a playoff-feel.

It'll be interesting to see the state of the Brewers pitching rotation. Following the huge acquisition of Sabathia last season, don't expect the Brewers to just field a Triple A ballclub in September. They should give the Cubs a tremendous series, with a split resulting.

Prediction—Cubs win two of four


Sept. 18—Sept. 20 (three-game series)
Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis Cardinals

The final skid of the Cubs 2009 season will come at the hands of the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. A likely MVP contender, Pujols should be a beast in this series. The key, of course, will be the Cardinals pitching staff. Will Carpenter still be healthy? Who will be closer?

I expect the Cubs to stumble this series. Fortunately, this will be the final series they lose for the year. If the Cardinals are in contention, which I predict they will be, expect them to defeat the Cubbies.

Prediction—Cubs lose two of three


Sept. 21—Sept. 23 (three-game series)
Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers

As the season draws to an end, the Cubs regulars should begin getting rested in preparation for the playoffs. Depending on where the Brewers are in the standings, the Cubs will face a team with their backs to the wall.

Look for the Cubs to burst out of their funk and take care of business in Milwaukee. The only joy Brewer fans may get out of this series, besides one win, is the sausage races.

Prediction—Cubs win two of three


Sept. 24—Sept. 27 (four-game series)
Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco Giants

Hey, the Cubs will finally get to make a visit to beautiful AT&T Ballpark in San Francisco. Not considered to be a contender for the '09 campaign, the Giants will likely be marching out young prospects.

The Giants pitching rotation should be their strength. Look for Zito to have a rebound year, as well as young studs Lincecum and Cain to be solid. The best storyline will be Randy Johnson, who should eclipse 300 victories. Despite the solid pitching, the Cubs should be able to manage a split on the bay.

Prediction—Cubs win two of four


Sept. 29—Oct. 1 (three-game series)
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Chicago Cubs

And the Cubbies conclude their NL Central matchups with a favorable series against our beloved Pirates. The Pirates will be playing solely for pride. Be sure and have a pencil handy, as your scorecards will be changing with all the young players that will get looks for the Bucos in this series.

The Cubs should be riding a high wave of momentum. The Pirates will be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I predict a sweep.

Prediction—Cubs win three of three


Oct. 2nd—Oct. 4 (three-game series)
Arizona Diamondbacks @ Chicago Cubs

And the Cubbies conclude their 2009 regular season against the pesky Diamondbacks. If the Cubs are still fighting for the divisional crown, the chance of facing Webb and/or Haren seems less than eventful.

The Cubs should finish the season on a good note. It'll be a fun atmosphere, regardless of the standings. I like the Cubs to win the regular season finale.

Prediction—Cubs win two of three


Well, there we have it, folks: the 2009 Cubs season comes to a close. I have the Cubs finishing 2009 with a 95-67 record, two games below their win total last season. If this is the case, the Cubs should win the NL Central with ease, will likely host the NLDS, and possibly the NLCS if they make it that far.

I hope you all enjoyed reading this four-part series. Thanks for reading!