You smell that? That’s the smell of playoff baseball. It smells like… the Cubs time of year. First up on the road back to the top is Washington DC. How will we be lining up?
Let’s take a crack at the starting pitching first. I am in agreement with many out there in thinking Hendricks should be the Game 1 starter. I know Lester has the most postseason experience, but Hendricks earned his stripes last year. He started some huge games, and did very well; NLCS Game 6, World Series Game 7. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. So he’s definitely not afraid of the stage. And since he’s shaken off the rust after coming off his injury, he’s been the best Cubs pitcher. Now just keep him in the game a little longer this time around Joe.
Game 2 should be Lester. I know Quintana has pitched better down the stretch, but I’d rather have him make his debut at home Another key to remember is if there is Game 5, who the starter will be. In this setup, it can be either Kyle or Jon. Whoever pitches better in their start, we can line up for the decisive game if we get there.
Jake is out of the conversation for Games 1 & 2 due to his injury. The earliest he will be available will be Game 3. The decisions from here on out are based on how the series is going. If we’re up 2-0, start Quintana in Game 3. If we’re tied or down 0-2, start Jake in Game 3. Obviously, the other pitcher will start in Game 4. Then, again, the better of the games 1 & 2 starters will be on the rubber for the win or go home game… with just about everyone else available.
How about the starting lineup? This will be changing every game I’m thinking, just like the regular season. I trust Joe will make the right decisions. Here’s how I think we should line up against a righty. Zobrist, Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras, Happ, Schwarber, Russell, and Baez. Sorry, JHey is out. He has had a much better year, and has been playing well lately, and he will get some important ABs, but if I’m going best lineup out of the gate, it has to be this… this is the best OFFENSIVE lineup, which will not always be the best way to go. JHey would be out there, as would Jay, for defensive purposes. And yes, I know Schwarber has struggled this year, but he has been a lot better lately. Plus, it’s Schwarby season, right? Taking his recent results and combining that with his postseason prowess, I’m not so sure you can keep him out of the lineup… at least against righties. Yes, and then there’s Almora! And Avila and Rivera… and Tommy!!! It’s good to have options. And then there’s the bullpen…
Wade, lock it down. From there, who you got? I like Edwards and Duensing in the late innings, and Montgomery as a bridge to get there. I do not trust Strop or Rondon; heck, even Edwards. It seems like he’s better when he’s brought in to cleanup a mess than when he starts with a clean inning. Justin Wilson shouldn’t even be on the postseason roster; neither should Lackey. Does that mean Grimm stays? He was OK last year in October.
It’s good to have options. Our depth is one of our strengths. It has helped tremendously during the regular season, and may come into play in the postseason; remember, we are planning on playing for another month! Either way you cut it, I like our chances. Can’t wait until Friday. Go Cubs!!!