With a 95-61 record, the Chicago Cubs have homefield advantage through the NL Championship Series (which is huge, because they have a 55-26 home record).
Most would say they should save their pitchers’ arms and coast into the playoffs. However, in analyzing their schedule, they have two games remaining with the New York Mets, then finish the season with a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
What makes these games interesting is that the Mets currently hold a one-game lead on the Brew Crew in the NL wild card race.
The question must be asked: Should the Cubs tank their series with either the Mets or Brewers so as to influence who makes it into the playoffs?
To answer that, we must first answer the question: Would the Cubs rather play Milwaukee or New York? Or, as far as the divisional series is concerned (the wild card winner cannot play the team that won its own division in the first round), the Mets or the Los Angeles Dodgers?
The three teams' head-to-head schedules against the Cubs do not offer much help. Chicago is 5-2 this season against the Dodgers, 3-1 vs. New York, and 8-5 against the Brewers. None of those numbers is scary.
The Mets started the season very slow, fired Willie Randolph, and since have been on fire. Milwaukee started hot, but eventually cooled off, causing the firing of manager Ned Yost. Ever since LA acquired Manny Ramirez, it's been white hot.
In the month of September, Los Angeles has a 16-5 record, New York has an 11-9 record, and Milwaukee is 6-15. It is clear the Dodgers have the most momentum.
So, should Chicago tank games against the Mets so as to not face Los Angeles in the first round and possibly see Milwaukee in the NLCS, or should the Cubs try to avoid New York instead?