The series opener didn’t go the Chicago Cubs’ way, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be shut down forever. As awesome as it would be, it’s highly improbable that any team will win all their games, especially in the postseason when every team is theoretically good at baseball. Anyway, we have a lineup for Game 2:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 10, 2015
I feel that the players, and even most Cubs fans, have an even-keeled philosophy on the postseason now. It’s one loss, move on, try to win the next one and head back to Wrigley Field for Jake Arrieta Day. Here are some things I am thinking…
I like the idea of him batting second in front of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Soler usually has a good approach at the plate even if he swings at some junk. He also has power potential even if his homer numbers this year don’t reflect that. Setting the table and then having some big boppers and contact guys hopefully driving him in will put pressure on the Cardinals.
Did you know that Garcia hasn’t even faced the Cubs once this season? I guess it never actually worked out where his turn in the rotation lined up with a series against the Cubs, not to mention that he was out for about a month with an injury. The usual stuff applies, where Garcia is a very good pitcher, and the Cardinals won’t roll over, etc. Garcia also has a very interesting reverse split, in that he’s tougher on righties than lefties, which apparently Joe Maddon doesn’t care about since the lineup is fairly righty-loaded. I will say that I don’t believe Garcia is as good as this year suggests (but he’s no pushover), and his game logs suggest that he won’t go too deep into most games, so the Cubs need to work some at-bats to drive him out of the game earlier rather than later.
Many Cubs fans seemed to have penciled this in for a loss because Hendricks is on the mound, but I think he’ll be okay. Kyle is a worm-killer with a pretty darned good ground ball rate, and while he can’t throw that hard, he’s got a good whiff rate too. With a decent defense behind him, hopefully all those grounders find a guy and get turned into outs. The Cardinals are still good, but their offense isn’t as formidable as the Devil Magic suggests. Keep the ball in the park and let those grounders find a fielder, and the Cubs should be in good shape.
Cubs should be able to match up pretty well as the bench is fairly deep. Chris Coghlan, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez are the key power threats coming off the pine, and Chris Denorfia is no slouch either. If they pinch-hit for Miguel Montero, David Ross can fill in. Or they might roll the dice and let Schwarber catch, though I think that’s very unlikely this postseason except in an emergency.
If Kyle Hendricks falters (which we hope doesn’t happen) or just has to throw too many pitches, the Cubs have a number of long-relief options, including the late-season awesomeness of Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, and Trevor Cahill. They’ll probably try to save Jason Hammel for Game 4, but he’s an option as well, especially if the game gets into extras.
Given all these factors, I continue to believe that the Cubs can match up well with the Cardinals and even though Jon Lester didn’t get any run support yesterday and the Cubs were unable to steal that win, this is probably the one that they come away with today. I believe the Cubs earn their split behind Kyle Hendricks and take it back to Wrigley for Jake to help them to a series lead.