We knew after the first couple games that the Chicago Cubs would be guaranteed to remain in first place after leaving Milwaukee. Thanks in part to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs can now also guarantee they will return to Wrigley Field in first place. And also thanks in part to guys like Jose Quintana, who pitched a complete game shutout, the Cubs will watch their closest rivals gradually sink into the land of mathematical elimination.
By my estimation, with the Cubs’ magic number at a very pleasant-looking 2, that means the Cubs only have to split the series in St. Louis to guarantee a clinch without caring what the Brewers do from here on out. Even if they don’t win a game in St. Louis, the Cubs will return home with at least a 1.5 game division lead and facing the Reds for three games at Wrigley Field. The Cubs cannot clinch until Tuesday anyway because the Brewers have Monday off, but at this point it’s almost a foregone conclusion. An asteroid has to literally hit St. Louis while the Cubs are in town for it not to happen.
So I guess we’re ready to take a look at the roster, eh? We did this a bit in the last Dreamcast, but I figured it’s time to put it to paper.
The Cubs only need four in playoff series, with the fifth (and sixth, hehe) guys ready to step in as swingmen. Right now I believe there are three guys who are locks to start:
Those are in no particular order. Mike Montgomery is going to be the long reliever, swingman, and emergency starter, so we’ll talk about him next, but the other two starters may depend on the matchup.
I believe Lester has the edge because both potential opponents, the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, have issues with left-handed pitching, but Lester has been struggling since returning from injury. However, Lackey has pitched well recently and Lester has more experience as a reliever. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t know who the number one starter will be heading into the NLDS, and I also don’t know what Joe Maddon and the Cubs will do. I just know all five guys are locks for the postseason roster.
Depending on what you think, the Cubs could carry seven or eight bullpen arms. I think because of the defensive versatility of the roster, they could get away with having an extra arm, but I’m going to list seven “locks” and some probables to take the eighth spot because I feel the additional bench player is more useful to this club.
Despite his early struggles, I think Wilson has enough to get the Cubs the big outs that they need. The fact that Joe Maddon has trusted him in medium-to-high leverage outings lately should be a boost to his confidence, and I really like what I’ve seen lately. The other six guys are pretty straightforward. Koji Uehara is nursing an injury so I doubt he’s ready for postseason play anyway, so here are my probables:
Of these guys, Grimm is the one with extensive postseason experience and big outs during last season’s World Series run. I like the other two arms better than what’s left in the bullpen, so just throwing them out there. I’m fairly sure they’ll just have Lester or Lackey take the proverbial eighth reliever spot, though. Therefore, I’m going to suggest 12 pitchers total, and 13 position players to fill out the roster.
I’m listing everyone who CAN play the infield here because some of them can move to the outfield depending on matchups and need:
I think Tommy has the best and most useful bat off the bench and is too valuable to leave at home.
With all due respect to Leonys Martin, he is superfluous and does not offer as much of a bench bat as Tommy La Stella. So I’m going to leave this roster as is. The roster is very similar to last year’s championship club, and we all know what they are capable of. I’m happy. You should be too. The clinch is coming…just a matter of when.