MLB postseason picture: Brewers close NL Central gap with tight win over Cubs

Yahoo Sports

September is upon us, which means every race in Major League Baseball is headed for the home stretch. That’s why every night between now and the end of the regular season we’ll bring you an updated look at the MLB postseason picture.

Don’t put the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild-card game just yet. The Brew Crew continued their hot streak Monday, toppling the division-leading Chicago Cubs by a score of 3-2 for their fourth-straight victory. With the win, Milwaukee trails the Cubs by just one game in the National League Central.

For Chicago, the loss couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Cubs have lost three-straight games, and are coming off a frustrating series against the Washington Nationals in which weather postponed two games and forced the team to play a double-header.

The Cubs’ reward for that tough stretch? Three games against the rival Brewers before going back to Washington, D.C for a make-up game. All of this comes during a stretch where the team hasn’t had a true off day since Aug. 20. Their next scheduled off day takes place Sept. 20, so it’s been a long and exhausting couple games for Chicago.

While both teams find themselves in strong position to make the postseason, winning the division presents a significant advantage in the age of the second wild card. The Cubs had a strong hold on the division entering the month, but it’s anyone’s game now in the NL Central.

The Brewers closed in on the Cubs on Monday night. (AP Photo)
The Brewers closed in on the Cubs on Monday night. (AP Photo)

The state of MLB’s playoff races

NL East: The Phillies were postponed Monday after the team’s grounds crew was caught unprepared for the amount of rain that hit the city over the weekend. The Phillies may not have taken a loss, but they still lost ground in the division. The Braves toppled the Giants 4-1, extending their division lead to five games. The two teams face off six more times before the end of the season, so that lead is not insurmountable.

NL West: The Rockies managed to grab some breathing room Monday, pounding the Diamondbacks 13-2. The Dodgers dropped their game against the Reds, extending Colorado’s lead to 1.5 games. After getting within 1.5 games of the National League West, the D-Backs have dropped three-straight games and now sit 3.5 games behind Colorado.

NL wild-card: The two teams at the top stayed the same. The Brewers and Cardinals both won, keeping Milwaukee’s lead at 2.5 games for the top wild-card spot. Both wild-card contenders in the NL West dropped in the standings. The Dodgers are now two games back of the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot. Arizona is four games back.

AL East: The Yankees picked up a half game on the Red Sox on Monday. New York defeated the Twins 7-2. The Red Sox had an off day. With the win, the Yankees are now eight games back for the division.

AL West:  The Astros beat the Tigers 3-2 in Justin Verlander’s return to Detroit. The win pushed the team ahead by three games in the AL West. The Athletics were off Monday, but will attempt to close that gap when they start a series against the Orioles on Tuesday.

AL wild-card: The Yankees’ win gives them a three-game lead over the A’s for the top wild-card spot. The next closest teams are the Mariners, who were off, and the Rays — who won yet again Monday. Both teams are 7.5 games out of the second wild card.

Magic number watch

Cleveland Indians — 4: Cleveland may have lost Monday, but the team still saw its magic number drop to four after the Twins also lost. Cleveland remains the only team with a magic number in the single digits.

The Yankees still have a firm grasp on the top wild-card spot in the AL. (AP Photo)
The Yankees still have a firm grasp on the top wild-card spot in the AL. (AP Photo)

If the playoffs started tomorrow

Wild-card game: A’s at Yankees; Cardinals at Brewers

ALDSIndians vs. Astros; Wild-card winner vs. Red Sox

NLDSRockies vs. Braves; Wild-card winner vs. Cubs

Elimination watch

The Reds may have won Monday night, but they were eliminated from postseason contention. That leaves the Angels as the next team in line to be eliminated. The Angels elimination number sits at one.

Tuesday’s must-see game

It’s the Cubs and Brewers again. The Brewers could tie Chicago for the NL Central lead with a win. Jhoulys Chacín will take on José Quintana in the start.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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