With the Cubs in the playoffs there are a couple of things that are now certain. The Cubs will face the Los Angeles Dodgers and the first guy the Dodgers will see is Ryan Dempster. Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden will also pitch as will Ted Lilly if things go beyond Game 3 this year.
With four starters and the fact that Lou Piniella has mentioned carrying 11 pitchers on his playoff roster that means there will be seven more pitchers and it means that the Cubs will have 14 from the offense on the roster. With the Cubs clinching so early it gave Lou Piniella the chance to audition players for their addition or subtraction from the playoff roster. Some looked very good while some certainly did not.
Lou doesn’t have to release his playoff roster until Wednesday morning but most Cubs’ fans already know the sure things. It is those bubble players that are in question. The audition over the last week moved some players from the roster to sitting out and vice versa. We won’t know for sure until the roster is official but I am going to take my shot at it. First let’s look at the sure things….
Pitchers – 11 Spots
Starters (4) – Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano Rich Harden, Ted Lilly
Bullpen (7) – Jason Marquis, Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Jeff Samardzija, Neal Cotts, Sean Marshall
On the bubble – Angel Guzman, Bob Howry, Chad Gaudin, Kevin Hart, Michael Wuertz
Offense – 14 Spots
Starters (8) – Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Jim Edmonds
Bench (6) – Mike Fontenot, Henry Blanco, Kosuke Fukudome
On the bubble – Micah Hoffpauir, Ronny Cedeno, Daryle Ward, Felix Pie
Watching from home – Casey McGehee, Koyie Hill
Now that is my opinion on who I think is already on the playoff roster, who is on the bubble and who is likely watching from home. There are five pitchers on the bubble and only one of them will be in. While Piniella has already said Bob Howry is on the playoff roster, nothing is official yet. Could his performance on Sunday make Piniella change his mind? I think Guzman looked solid Sunday versus the Brewers but I am not sure that was enough.
Bob Howry has been awful all year and Chad Gaudin has been terrible of late so I don’t know how Lou can take them. If Howry is selected I think you will hear a collective (expletive) from the Faithful. Kevin Hart might be my third choice at this point but I would have to go with Michael Wuertz as the final bullpen guy.
On offense I see Mike Fontenot, Henry Blanco and Kosuke Fukudome as sure things. Fontenot has been solid this year and will be included. Blanco is the backup catcher and Koyie Hill did nothing to take that away from him. The inclusion of Fukudome might surprise some people but I think he has to be in there.
That leaves three spots from four guys on the bubble. I think Lou should take Micah Hoffpauir and Ronny Cedeno for two of the spots. That leaves one spot open for either Daryle Ward or Felix Pie. Ward has been a solid pinch hitter, but not so much lately. Pie has hit .300 in 20 at-bats over the last month. Don’t forget that Pie can provide solid defense in the outfield. This is a tough choice but I think Ward is the direction Lou goes to fill the bench and I think it is based on his experience.
The Dodgers, Brewers, Cubs and Phillies were the top four pitching staffs in the National League, in that order. The NLDS against the Dodgers figures to be close games. When you have close games you need a solid bullpen, great defense and also timely hitting from your pinch hitters. I think Lou has people available that can do just that. We will know by Wednesday what Lou thinks and then we can decide if we agree with him or not. For the time being, let me know if you agree with me or not. If not who would be in your bullpen? Who would be on your bench? Are some of my bubble players sure things in your eyes? Well here is your chance. Tell me what you think. Agree or not on the playoff roster, there is one thing I am sure we can agree on….GO CUBS GO!!