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October 2017

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COMMENTS

The Marathon is Over

Written by , Posted in General

The long regular season is over; 162 games per team over 182 days.  Now a few days’ wait for the sprint that is the postseason run to begin– for the Cubs, this Friday, at Washington, as has been a foregone conclusion for the NL Central winner for a long time–the longest wait for games this side of the All-Star Break.  The Cubs limped in to the offseason with a loss to the Reds in game 162, but the game didn’t really matter all that much–all a win would do is ensure home field advantage against the Yankees should the two end up in the World Series–a tie with the Red Sox goes to them based on the head-to-head record between them.

The game Sunday did appear to answer at least one question for the postseason, as far as the rotation goes: John Lackey appears headed to the bullpen, which will give many of us reason to be relieved.   On the Nats’ side of the equation, though, it appears that Max Scherzer might not wind up being their number 1, after leaving their game Saturday with a hamstring issue–something that Dusty Baker indicated may affect his postseason rotation.  If Scherzer can’t go game 1, my guess would be it would be Stephen Strasburg, which sounds better–but not that much better.

Overall, what happens to the Cubs from here?  Right now, I’d say all signs point to good things–the Cubs have been playing their best baseball of the year, even with a dearth of off-days down the stretch, going 19-9 in September.  Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana have been improving as the year has gone on, and Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester haven’t been bad either.   There seem to be enough dependable arms in the bullpen in Carl Edwards, Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop, Mike Montgomery, and Wade Davis to get them through even a short (5 or so innings) performance by any of their starters.  The offense, likewise, has been lively as well, though they haven’t been necessarily facing top-tier pitching in September.  The team has two 30 HR players, and 5 with 20+, making instant offense a valid concern of any pitching staff opposing them.  Defensively, there doesn’t seem to be anyone that can run on Willson Contreras when he’s throwing to Javy Baez, and Jason Heyward has been about as good as usual.  There are going to be liabilities somewhere, though, if you want to have the likes of Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist in the lineup.  There also figures to be a number of defensive switches late-game, which has become all-too-common in the Joe Maddon era.  Based on the Cubs’ team alone, I’d say that the odds are better than even that they move on to the NLCS, but probably in either 4 or 5 games.

Beyond that, though, I’m not as confident; smart money is the Dodgers to win the other NLCS–despite their having the worst in-division record of the NL Division winners (41-35), and being guaranteed to face an NL West team in the NLDS.  The Dodgers would be a difficult draw in the NLCS, and one I’m not certain the Cubs would win–despite knowing that they can beat their best pitching based on last year’s playoff results.   It wouldn’t be as quick an exit as the 2015 NLCS against the Mets, but this is as far as I can reasonably see the Cubs going.  No repeat this year.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I like a repeat of last year’s World Series, they are both the hottest teams going into the playoffs, and I see the Dodgers as having problems getting past the D-Backs.

  • Doc Raker

    You forgot Hector Rondon in the bullpen, his last few outings he has looked unhittable. Rondon may be in peak form, maybe it was the reduced work load that allowed him to recover but if you look at his trend he can be an unexpected stopper out of the bullpen for the Cubs.

    The Dodgers are ripe for an upset, they have played poorly of late and the Diamondbacks have been hot.

    Cubs Nationals, should be a good series, 2 very evenly matched teams. They are right next to each other in league standings for runs scored and ERA. I think the Cubs offensive depth pays off, 7 guys with 20 or more home runs, part time player Kyle Schwarber with 30 home runs. Almora, Javy, Happ, Contreras and Schwarber make big contributions to beat the Nationals in 4.

    Cubs Diamondbacks in the NLCS.

    • Sherm

      Agree – Dbacks have the Dodgers number. If Rockies win the wild card game, it’ll be the Dodgers.

  • Brad Lyerla

    I am sticking with Cubs sweep the Astros in the Series.
    1. I agree with Doc that since the Cubs finally got the inflammation out of Rondon’s elbow, he has been very good again. It’s been almost two years since he has been fully healthy. But he might not be on the roster. There is a lot of speculation here in Chicago that Wilson and Lackey will take the last two spots and Rondon will be the odd man out.
    2. The Dodgers have lost their mojo. They might not get out of the divisionals.
    3. Scherzer and Harper are both less than 100%. That might give the Cubs the edge, even though Arrieta is not fully healthy either. Otherwise, they seem closely matched. Of course, I will take Maddon over Baker by a lot and the Cubs have done it before, while the Nat’ls have suffered early exits.
    4. I think our day to day line up is a challenge. To me the biggest issue is how do you get at bats for Schwarber, Happ and Zobrist? To me, only Zobrist would get regular starts in the post season. It will be fun to see what Maddon does. I am sure that it will be exasperating too.
    5. With some concern for Arrieta, I feel pretty good about our starters. I bet Lester gets the opener. But I would feel good about Henricks too.

    • Doc Raker

      Maddon has mentioned in post game interviews that he has been impressed with Rondon. I compare that to removing Wilson mid AB on a 2-0 count and I perceive Maddon to have lost confidence in Wilson. From what I have seen Wilson does not belong on the post season roster and Rondon does but who the heck knows what Joe’s iPad thinks.

  • Game on.. going to be a great series.. nothing easy from here out

  • Kyle

    Over/Under on how many times Harper walks in NLDS? Let’s start the bidding at 10.5.

    • Michael S.

      I’ll take the under, easy.

    • Doc Raker

      We need to walk Murphy, that guy kills the Cubs. remember the 2015 NLCS

      • Eddie Von White

        The whole Nats team needs to walk … right out of the playoffs due to the Cubs.

  • Seymour Butts

    There is no legitimate reason not to pick the Cubs to win the NL pennant. They simply have more talented players than the competition. No, they are not a lock, but anything less would be a disappointment as they are playing better over the last (insert any time frame under a half season) than the rest of the league.
    I’m good with Lackey starting as well. Sure he’s an A-hole, but when he starts, the Cubs win…a lot. Don’t let the nearsightedness out weigh the farsightedness.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      It would be nice if Lackey was more nearsighted then he might not see what the umpire is calling.

    • Eddie Von White

      Right on, Seymour!