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NL Central race snapshot: How are the St. Louis Cardinals positioned after their series-opening win on September 28 against the Pirates?

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How are the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Chicago Cubs positioned after the games of Monday, September 28, and entering play on Tuesday, September 29?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

All three National League Central postseason contenders played on Monday, September 28, 2015.

Monday night's win was the biggest of the season so far for the Cardinals. It halved their magic number from four to two in Pittsburgh's home park. The Cards' victory also increased their odds of winning the Central, per Fangraphs, from 88.9% entering Monday's game to 98.0%. A win tonight or on Wednesday seals the division title. So would two victories against the Braves if the Pirates take the next two games.

The following charts and graphics reflect the state of the NL Central race after the end of play on Sunday, September 27, and entering play on Monday, September 28.
Rest-of-Season Records

How can the Pirates or Cubs catch the Cardinals and tie St. Louis for first place after Game 162? I resurrected the chart showing the scenarios in which this is possible. Red is the Cardinals. Yellow is the Pirates. Blue is the Cubs. It's becoming increasingly difficult for the Pirates to catch the Cardinals.

W

L

W%

Final W

Final L

Final W%

W

L

W%

Final W

Final L

Final W%

W

L

W%

Final W

Final L

Final W%

5

0

1.000

104

58

.642













4

1

.800

103

59

.636













3

2

.600

102

60

.630













2

3

.400

101

61

.623













1

4

.200

100

62

.617

5

0

1.000

100

62

.617







0

5

.000

99

63

.611

4

1

.800

99

63

.611













3

2

.600

98

64

.605













2

3

.400

97

65

.599

6

0

1.000

97

65

.599







1

4

.200

96

66

.593

5

1

.833

96

66

.593







0

5

.000

95

67

.586

4

2

.667

95

67

.586













3

3

.500

94

68

.580













2

4

.333

93

69

.574













1

5

.167

92

70

.568

Playoff Odds

I included the Fangraphs playoff odds, which are rendered like this:

The FanGraphs Playoff Odds are an adaption of the coolstandings.com playoff odds originally created by Greg Agami and Sean Walsh. To generate the playoff odds we simulate each season 10,000 times.

I used the Fangraphs projection mode for the playoff odds, though there are other options. This mode "uses a combination of Steamer and ZiPS projections and the FanGraphs Depth Charts to calculate the winning percentage of each remaning game in the major league season."

Magic Numbers

I added the Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs' so-called magic numbers to the graphic as well. This represents the sum of team wins and opponent losses necessary for that team to finish ahead of the opponent in the standings. I used the following formula:

Magic Number = 162 + 1 - (Team Win Total) - (Opponent Loss Total)