The Cubs took two steps forward to reaching the next goal with Monday night’s comeback, 5-2 win over the Reds. With Joe Maddon’s team snapping their two-game skid and improving to 95-55 on the season the Nationals (88-62) losing in Miami 4-3 to the Marlins, the Cubs increased their lead for best record in the National League to seven games in the loss column with 12 games remaining on the schedule.
The Cubs are looking to secure home field and win 100 games.
The Cubs had 11 pitchers and 14 position players on the NLDS roster last year.
Scouts are watching the teams the Cubs could see in the NLDS and they are doing a lot of video work.
The Mets (80-70) have a one game lead on the Giants (79-71) and Cardinals (79-71) for the top NL Wild Card and home field for the one game. The Giants and Cardinals are tied for the second NL Wild Card.
Theo Epstein said the Cubs hope there is a three-way tie for the NL Wild Card “and there’s about a 20-inning game to decide who plays on Tuesday and then the Tuesday game goes about 30 innings then rain delays to make it a Thursday game and then it goes 30 innings.”
Joe Maddon held a rare meeting with his players Monday. Maddon doesn’t believe in team meetings and typically has only a select few during the course of a season.
Maddon discussed with the players the importance of home field advantage in the postseason.
Theo Epstein said Maddon was not happy losing two in a row to the Brewers.
Maddon talked to his hitters and according to ESPN Chicago he pointed out “the fact they have two weeks to work on things before the playoffs.” Maddon stressed “competing and self-awareness” and “what is needed from me in this moment.”
Maddon has voiced his concern publicly about the Cubs issues with moving the baseball and lack of situational hitting.
Based on the reports, the meeting sounded very similar to the talk Maddon had toward the end of Spring Training when he wasn’t happy with the way the offense was performing as Opening Day approached.
Maddon said he wasn’t upset. He just wanted the players to know what lies ahead and what he would like to see accomplished.
“I just wanted to reiterate some of the stuff we talked about in Spring Training. That was it. I want our guys to understand, and I know they understand, but sometimes you put it out there that we have a unique opportunity right now for the next two weeks,” Maddon said. “It’s unusual being in a position like we are right now. You have two weeks of Major League Baseball left in September. So let’s work on some stuff. Let’s work on some things we need to work on individually or as a group. Not unlike a Spring Training situation.”
Pedro Strop completed a second bullpen Sunday and by all accounts it went well.
The Cubs would like to see him pitch in multiple games before the regular season ends on Oct. 2.
According to multiple reports, the Cubs could play simulated games between the end of the regular season and the opener of the NLDS the following Friday.
The Cubs are working out the plans for the four days in between the team’s final game in Cincinnati and Game One of the division series. The Cubs want to make sure the pitchers stay sharp and the hitters do not lose their timing.
“This isn’t the type of team that’s just going to roll over and stagnate and get too rusty,” Theo Epstein said. “I trust our guys to ramp it up and focus when everything is on the line. I don’t worry about that for a second.”
Jorge Soler was not available for Monday’s game as he continues to recover from tightness in his right side. An MRI on Soler’s right oblique came back clean but the Cubs held him out for at least one more day.
Multiple reports suggested he could be available off the bench for Tuesday’s game. ESPN Chicago reported that Soler could be able to pinch-hit by Wednesday and back in the lineup by the weekend for the series with the Cardinals.
Cubs Home Attendance
The Cubs had 39,251 fans at Wrigley Field on Monday night to watch the Cubs come from behind and beat the Reds 5-2. The Cubs passed the three-million mark (3,028,965) for the season with five home games left on the schedule.
This is the ninth time, first since 2011, the Cubs have surpassed three million at Wrigley Field.
News and Notes
• ESPN Chicago reported Jason Hammel wins 15th as Cubs break out of offensive slump. Party’s over as Cubs get back to work in 5-2 victory over the Reds according to the Sun-Times. Comcast SportsNet reported party time is over as Cubs try to get locked back in after clinching division.
• With Jason Hammel improving to 15-9 on the season, the Cubs have four pitchers that have won at least 15 games for the first time since 1935 (Larry French, Bill Lee, Charlie Root, Lon Warneke), seventh time in franchise history. Hammel, Jake Arrieta (17-7), Jon Lester (17-4), Kyle Hendricks (15-8) have won 15 games or more games for the 95-win Cubs.
• According to ESPN Chicago, a velocity dip for Jake Arrieta doesn’t have Joe Maddon concerned.
• And Jake Arrieta dressed up as Jake, from State Farm.
• The Sun-Times explained why Joe Maddon thinks more teams will follow Cubs’ pitching lead next year. Joe Maddon believes more teams will use six-man rotations in second half according to The Tribune.
• Cubs await flawed but potentially dangerous NL Wild Card survivor in the Cardinals or Mets or Giants according to the Sun-Times.
• The Mets have lined up Noah Syndergaard for the NL Wild Card Game according to Adam Rubin … and Bartolo Colon is set up to pitch the regular season finale and Game One of the NLDS.
• The Cubs hit three home runs on Monday night … and the Reds set a new record for home runs allowed in a single-season (242). The Cubs have hit at least one home run in each of the last 16 games they’ve played the Reds.
• Topps is selling a card featuring an image of Ben Zobrist riding a bike to Wrigley Field in full Cubs uniform.
And last, but certainly not least, Willson Contreras’ seventh inning shot onto Waveland had an exit velocity of 109.4 mph, his hardest hit homer of the season. And it traveled 461 feet.
Exit velo: 109 mph ????????????
Distance: 461 feet ???????????? pic.twitter.com/9o7ilrqAQM
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 20, 2016
This Day in Cubstory
2009 – Cubs suspended Milton Bradley for the remainder of the season.
2008 – The Cubs won the National League Central Division title with a 5-4 victory over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Jim Edmonds caught the last out in a game that was started by Ted Lilly and saved by Kerry Wood. It was the Cubs second division title in two seasons, and marked the first time since 1906-08 the Cubs went to the post-season in consecutive years.
1972 – Milt Pappas won his 200th game with a 6-2 complete game victory over the Expos at Wrigley Field. Pappas became the first pitcher to reach 200 victories without a 20-win season.
1953 – Ernie Banks hit the first home run of his career off Gerry Staley in the eighth inning, but the Cubs lost 11-6 to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
1953 – Gene Baker made his Major League Debut, joining his double play partner, shortstop Ernie Banks. Banks and Baker played together with the Kansas City Monarchs.
1932 – The Cubs clinched the National League Pennant with a 5-2 victory over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Guy Bush pitched a complete game for his 19th victory of the season. Kiki Cuyler delivered a bases clearing triple in the seventh inning.
1932 – Billy Herman collected his 200th hit of the season in the Cubs 5-2 victory over the Pirates.
1924 – Grover Cleveland Alexander won his 300th game in a 7-3 victory in 12 innings over the Giants in New York.
1882 – Larry Corcoran pitched his second no-hitter, a 5-0 victory over Worchester at Lakefront Park.