Probable Pitchers

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Monday at 7:05pm CT – Lucas Harrell vs. Jason Berken

Harrell leads all Major League rookies with 187 2/3 innings pitched and is second among NL rookies in wins. He hasn’t won in his last six starts, though, going 0-2 with a 3.22 ERA. His last win was Aug. 21. Berken was roughed up in his last start against the Rockies, giving up six runs on nine hits over four innings. He had trouble keeping the ball down, which can be a problem at Coors Field. This will be his last chance to make a good impression.

Tuesday at 7:05pm CT – Bud Norris vs. Chris Volstad

Norris snapped a personal 12-game losing streak Wednesday, holding St. Louis to two hits and striking out seven in a season-high 7 1/3 scoreless innings. In his previous 18 starts, he was 0-12 with a 6.17 ERA. Volstad gave up seven runs on 10 hits over three innings against the Rockies in his last outing and deviated from the game plan, according to manager Dale Sveum. This is Volstad’s last start.

Wednesday at 1:20pm CT – Edgar Gonzalez vs. Travis Wood

The veteran has done a nice job since the Astros picked him up from Mexican league. He’s 3-1 with a 4.15 ERA in five starts with the Astros and has been unbeatable on the road. He’s 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA in three road starts. Wood seemed “tired” in his last start, according to manager Dale Sveum. Wood says he’s fine. The Cubs want to see more life in his pitches in his final game. He has two wins in his last 12 decisions.

Our Take

Welcome to the big finale. The Cubs need to win three straight games to avoid the century mark for losses. And they’re facing the perfect opponent to pull it off in the Astros. If you had to win three games to save your life (and choosing to play against the Cubs somewhere in the NL West isn’t an option), wouldn’t you choose to play the Astros? I like our chances, at least inasmuch as they wouldn’t improve against another team. It really comes down to a question of who is already looking ahead to the offseason, who is too tired and broken-down, and who is hoping to maybe win a job with their team next season.

Series Prediction: A sweep for the Cubs, and an unexpected win for my optimism.

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