The National League Championship Series is set. It’s the Cubs and Dodgers with the winner of the best-of-seven series being crowned National League Champions and advancing to the World Series.
The Dodgers knocked off the Nationals 4-3 in Game 5 of the NLDS in one of the best postseason games in recent memory. Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts made all of the right moves out managing Dusty Baker. Roberts used his setup man, Joe Blanton, in the third inning. Rookie lefty, Julio Urias in the fifth and his closer, Kenley Jansen entered the game in the seventh inning. Clayton Kershaw closed the game with picking up the final two outs in the ninth.
Jon Lester will start Game 1 for the Cubs on Saturday night (7:08pm CDT) at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers have not announced their starter. Dave Roberts is expected to name RHP Kenta Maeda his Game 1 starter.
The Cubs have a workout scheduled at Wrigley on Friday afternoon. Joe Maddon and Jon Lester will speak with the media. Maddon is expected to announce the Cubs’ rotation at that time.
Miguel Montero has been dealing with back issues all season and a sore back could keep him off the NLCS roster according to Bruce Levine.
The Cubs plan to have three catchers on the NLCS roster. But a sore back has made Montero questionable for the NLCS and its very possible at this point, according to Levine, that the Cubs will have two catchers on the active roster.
The Cubs do not have to announce the 25-man roster until Saturday morning.
Cubs NLCS Roster
The Cubs 25-man roster for the NLCS could look different from the one they had in the NLDS.
As of Thursday, the Cubs had not decided whether to have 11 or 12 pitchers on the roster which will impact the amount of position players. The Cubs had 14 position players on the NLDS roster.
Miguel Montero’s availability will have a big impact on the roster structure. The Cubs could also add a right-handed bat to the bench, like Matt Szczur, to help with the left-handers the Dodgers will throw out during the best-of-seven NLCS.
Jed Hoyer said Thursday, “Certainly no one played themselves off the roster. If we have to make changes it’s because we have to go with a different mix.”
“We debated 11 pitchers versus 12 a lot before the last series and I’m sure that’ll be the same debate. Which way we end up going I’m not sure,” Hoyer said. “There were moments that you were glad you had the extra position player. There were moments you wanted the extra pitcher.”
NLCS Pitching Staff
The Cubs are expected to announce the rotation for the NLCS on Friday.
Jon Lester was officially named as the Game 1 starter on Thursday. The Cubs would like for Kyle Hendricks to pitch Game 2. Hendricks threw a bullpen Thursday and reportedly it went well. If the Cubs feel Hendricks needs a little more time to recover from taking the line drive off his right forearm in Game 2 of the NLDS, he could be pushed to Game 3 in Los Angeles and Jake Arrieta would start Game 2.
The Cubs would like to have a NLCS rotation of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.
Maddon said Thursday he is not worried about John Lackey and pointed out some of his struggles in Game 4 could be attributed to rust due to not pitching for two weeks. The Cubs expect him to pitch better in the NLCS.
Jason Hammel, Trevor Cahill and Joe Smith are in the mix for a spot on the NLCS pitching staff. The Cubs could add another long man to the pen to pair with Mike Montgomery and that’s an area both Hammel and Cahill could help.
Rob Zastryzny is definitely in the mix for a 12th spot on the pitching staff. The Cubs have hinted at adding a left-hander to the bullpen if they faced the Dodgers in the NLCS. With Zastryzny, Mike Montgomery and Travis Wood, Maddon would have three lefties in the bullpen before Aroldis Chapman.
The Dodgers were the worst team in the majors hitting against left-handed pitchers this season.
Ryne Sandberg is going to be part of the Cubs pre- and post-game during the NLCS.
670 The Score announced Sandberg will be joining Mark Grote for all of the home post-game shows. Sandberg will help Grote break down the game.
And Sandberg will also be part of Comcast SportsNet’s postseason coverage.
News and Notes
• Joe Maddon is confident his Cubs will be ready for the NLCS according to the Tribune.
• Ben Zobrist knows Javier Baez is Cubs’ best option at second base and is fine with playing outfield in the postseason according to Carrie Muskat. Comcast SportsNet explained how the Cubs see Ben Zobrist as a missing piece for NLCS breakthrough. And Ben Zobrist thinks the Cubs still have a lot to overcome according to a report from the Tribune.
• The Tribune reported Cubs to get acclimated to Dodgers’ starters in NLCS. Joe Maddon said, “I do believe a pitcher that’s pitching well should have an advantage over a team that has not seen him to this point.”
• According to the Tribune, Cubs veterans make sure youngsters are up to speed for postseason success.
• Anthony Rizzo’s ninth inning walk is an example of the Cubs learning how to win according to Comcast SportsNet.
• Cubs’ incredible Game 4 comeback gets even better with age according to Jayson Stark.
• The Blue Jays announced their rotation for the ALCS: Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez
• Dexter Fowler got his boys a present … click here.
• After the Dodgers beat the Nationals to advance to the NLCS, Christopher Kamka posted the reminder that in his last seven starts in California, Jake Arrieta has a 0.53 ERA and 0.608 WHIP (21 hits, 49 strikeouts, 10 walks in 51 innings).
• Dusty Baker on Dave Roberts using Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw the way he did in Game 5: “I’d be interested to see … they won the war … but the effects of Jansen and Kershaw when they get to Chicago.”
• During his weekly spot Thursday on 670 The Score, Joe Maddon compared Conor Gillaspie’s triple off Aroldis Chapman happening as often as Halley’s Comet.
• Joe Maddon said Tommy La Stella was ready to pinch-hit for Javier Baez had Bruce Bochy left Sergio Romo in to pitch. Ben Zobrist would have played shortstop in the bottom of the ninth.
• Kyle Schwarber ran drills in the outfield Thursday at Wrigley … click here for a video from ESPN Chicago. Jesse Rogers made sure to point out, he is not preparing to play this year. Schwarber is working toward being ready for Spring Training. Schwarber is enjoying his role as a Cubs cheerleader according to the Tribune.
The Cubs updated the on-field logo … and Bruce Miles tweeted photos of Wrigley.
— Bruce Miles (@BruceMiles2112) October 13, 2016
— Wrigley Field (@WrigleyBlog) October 13, 2016
Joe Maddon on the Cubs making it to the NLCS: “You’re sitting in the dugout and when you get to the final four, there’s only one other game going on. That’s pretty impressive.”
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs granted free agency to Mike Baxter
2015 – Cubs granted free agency to Brian Schlitter
2010 – Cubs granted free agency to Bobby Scales
2003 – Game Six of the NLCS, The Steve Bartman Game … With the Cubs up 3-0 in the eighth inning, a foul ball and an error by SS Alex Gonzalez opened the door for the Marlins. Florida scored eight runs, won the game and forced a game seven. The collapse is blamed on Steve Bartman, but the error by Alex Gonzalez is what led to the loss.
1992 – Cubs granted fee agency to Brad Arnsberg
1982 – Carlos Marmol, born
1968 – Expos selected Bill Stoneman from the Cubs in the 1968 expansion draft (19th overall pick)
1968 – Padres selected Rick James from the Cubs in the 1968 expansion draft
1964 – Joe Girardi, born
1952 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Bob Thorpe
1949 – Cubs purchased Paul Minner from the Dodgers for $100,000.
1941 – Art Shamsky, born
1935 – Philadelphia selected Jim Oglesby from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
1930 – Cubs purchased Jakie May from the Reds
1930 – Cubs traded Bill McAfee and Wes Schulmerich to the Braves for Bob Smith and Jimmy Welsh
1908 – The Cubs won their second straight World Series by beating the Tigers 2-0 in game five. The Cubs won the Fall Classic, four games to one. Upset with seating arrangements at the World Series, a group of sports reporters formed what will become the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
1906 – Cubs lost 8-3 to the White Sox at South Side Grounds in the sixth and final game of the World Series. The Southsiders won the first one-city World Series four games to two.
1885 – The Chicago National League Ball Club scored four runs in the eighth inning and tied the American Association St. Louis Browns 5-5 in the Championship Series opener in Chicago. The Browns were managed by Charles Comiskey. The game was called after eight innings because of darkness at West Side Park.