Like 2017, the Cubs and Brewers are in a fight again for the NL Central title

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 04: Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs meets with the team on the mound in the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 4, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – At this very moment, 2018 is exactly like 2017.

On Sunday, September 10th of last season, the Cubs lost to the Brewers 3-1 at Wrigley Field, finishing off a sweep by the visitors that put them two games behind their hosts in the National League Central standings.

One year to the day, Monday, September 10th, the Cubs are in the same position. Getting ready to play the Brewers, clinging to a two-game lead.

Like the 2017 season, nothing has come easy for Joe Maddon’s team, who’ve battled injuries to still post a National League-best 83-59 record. Yet an improved Milwaukee team is once again pushing the defending division champions to the brink.

A sweep of the Giants at Miller Park this weekend coupled with the Cubs dropping 2-of-3 games to the Nationals has put the Brewers just two games out of the lead in the NL Central as they visit Wrigley Field for the first of three night contests starting on Monday.

It’s the second match-up of the teams in a week, with Milwaukee taking the first two games at Miller Park last week before the Cubs salvaged the finale to boost their lead back up to four games for the moment. So far this season, Maddon’s team has a 10-6 record against the Brewers, with a 5-1 record at Wrigley Field.

Not only are the Cubs contending with their division rivals, but also with a brutal stretch of games that’s been full of make-up contests and even a few rainouts. Monday will mark the 21st consecutive day in which the Cubs have gone without a scheduled day off, with the last coming on July 20th. A scheduled off day for Thursday, August 30th was needed for a make-up of a rained out contest against the Braves in Atlanta, and the Cubs were already at the park when Friday’s game was called due to weather.

Their next off day isn’t coming until Thursday, September 20th, this after a decision to make up the rained out game Sunday against the Nationals this Thursday in Washington. So the Cubs will go from a night game at Wrigley Field on Wednesday to a mid-afternoon 3:05 PM start in Washington, the back to Chicago for a 1:20 PM start on Friday.

That’s 30 days without a scheduled day off, doing so with the Brewers chasing hard to take the division crown away. Once again, the Cubs are in a fight for the NL Central, and these next three days will play a big part in determining the fate of both teams.