The National League Division Series are set. It’s the Cubs versus the Giants and Nationals versus the Dodgers with the winners squaring off in the National League Championship Series for a chance to play in the Fall Classic.
The Giants beat the Mets 3-0 in the NL Wild Card behind another phenomenal postseason pitching performance from Madison Bumgarner … and a three-run homer in the ninth inning by Conor Gillaspie.
For the first time since The Boys of Zimmer, 27 years ago, the Cubs and Giants will face off in baseball’s postseason tournament.
The NLDS gets underway Friday night (8:15pm CDT) at Wrigley with Jon Lester taking on Johnny Cueto in Game 1. Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are scheduled to follow Lester in games two through four of the NLDS. Bruce Bochy has not announced his rotation for the NLDS. The Giants are expected to have Cueto and Jeff Samardzija start games one and two at Wrigley. Madison Bumgarner and Matt Moore would start games three and four in San Francisco.
Joe Maddon is expected to wait until Friday morning before announcing the Cubs’ 25-man roster for the NLDS.
The Cubs have a tough task ahead of them in the NLDS. The Giants are 35-14 in the postseason since 2010, and as Ryan McGuffey pointed out Bruce Bochy, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey have never lost a postseason series.
Anthony Rizzo said it. If the Cubs want to be the best, the Cubs have to beat the best. And it all gets started Friday night at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs practiced Wednesday at Wrigley and will work out again Thursday at Wrigley.
According to David Schuster, the Cubs will work out under the lights Thursday night. The Giants have a late afternoon workout scheduled at Wrigley.
Kyle Hendricks threw a bullpen Wednesday as he prepares for his Game 2 start on Saturday night.
Jon Lester threw his bullpen Tuesday and was anxious to find out the Cubs’ opponent for the NLDS so he could prepare for one team.
According to multiple reports, the Cubs worked on fundamentals Wednesday and took batting practice.
Kyle Schwarber was at the workout Wednesday. Schwarber will be in uniform and in the dugout throughout the NLDS and will travel with the team.
Three Catchers in the Postseason
The Cubs announced the starting rotation for best-of-five NLDS. Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks will start games one and two at Wrigley. Jake Arrieta will start game three in San Francisco likely against Madison Bumgarner. John Lackey is set for game four, if necessary.
The Cubs are expected to have three catchers on the NLDS roster, which will be announced Friday morning.
With Lester, Hendricks and Arrieta set for the first three games, the Cubs should have three different catchers start the first three playoff games … David Ross (Lester), Willson Contreras (Hendricks), Miguel Montero (Arrieta).
If the Cubs use three different catchers in the first three games, they will become the fifth team in MLB history to do so joining the Diamondbacks (2002, NLDS), Padres (1998, World Series), Yankees (1927, World Series) and Red Sox (1915, World Series).
Game 2 of NLDS
The MLB Network is televising Game 2 of the NLDS between the Cubs and Giants on Saturday night (7:08pm CDT). The exclusive telecast has not gone over too well with Cubs fans that do not have the channel.
The Cubs posted a reminder that the MLB Network is running a free preview through Oct. 11.
The Sun-Times posted a detailed list of the Midwest providers and their channel numbers for MLB Network
News and Notes
• Theo Epstein is content, not overconfident, as Cubs open the postseason according to Bruce Levine.
• Paul Sullivan reported on Joe Maddon and the art of lineup tinkering.
• Jake Arrieta might be the real wild card in the NLDS according to the Sun-Times.
• In his last six starts in the state of California, Jake Arrieta has a 0.20 ERA and 0.53 WHIP after allowing one earned run on 15 hits (zero home runs) with nine walks and 44 strikeouts in 45 innings.
• Jake Arrieta has the most strikeouts in a one-game playoff. Arrieta struck out 11 last year at PNC Park. Noah Syndergaard struck out 10 batters Wednesday at Citi Field and Madison Bumgarner punched out 10 in 2014 at PNC Park.
• The Tribune reported numbers tell story of patience paying off for Cubs hitters.
• The Sun-Times asked if Cubs’ strong man Jason Heyward is ready for heavy lifting in October. Gordon Wittenmyer explained why Jed Hoyer believes Jason Heyward could be the next J.D. Drew in the postseason.
• This year’s Cubs team hit the most home runs on the road in franchise history. The Cubs hit 109 dingers outside of Wrigley … 2016 Cubs: 109, 2002 Cubs: 101; 1998 Cubs: 101; 2001 Cubs: 99; 2000 Cubs: 99
• Jim Bowden graded the playoff rotations … the Cubs received an ‘A’ from Bowden. The Cubs have the “best postseason starting rotation” with “essentially three aces” in Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Kyle Hendricks … and John Lackey.
• The Cubs had a 5.8 HH rating on WGN-TV this season, up 26 percent from a year ago.
• Jose de Jesus Ortiz examined how many Cardinals could start for the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS. And according to the report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, maybe two … Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina.
• According to Bob Nightengale, Rob Manfred said Major League Baseball will decide on the punishment the Cardinals will receive by the end of the year for hacking the Astros database.
• The Blue Jays fired Ed Lynch. The former Cubs’ GM had been a scout in the Jays system for the last six years.
• Adam and Drake LaRoche are throwing out the first pitch before Game 2 of the NLDS between the Nationals and Dodgers.
• The Tigers exercised the 2017 club option on the contract of manager Brad Ausmus.
• The Pirates designated LHP Phil Coke for assignment. Coke pitched in six games for the Yankees and Pirates this season and posted a 3.60 ERA, 1.70 WHIP and 6.05 FIP.
• John Farrell announced Clay Buchholz (Game 3) and Eduardo Rodriguez (Game 4) will follow Rick Porcello and David Price in the Red Sox rotation for the ALDS against the Indians.
• Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish will start the Rangers’ first two games of ALDS against the Blue Jays.
• Daniel Murphy participated in a simulated game Wednesday and is expected to be in the Nationals lineup for Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers.
• The Angels claimed former Cubs’ reliever RHP Blake Parker off waivers from the Yankees. Parker appeared in 16 games for Joe Girardi and was 1-0 with one save, a 4.96 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 3.94 FIP this season.
• Baseball America posted its 2016 Major League All-Rookie Team.
• Click here for photos of the statues outside of Wrigley being ready for the postseason.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs granted free agency to James Russell
2014 – Cubs selected Joe Ortiz off waivers from the Rangers
2007 – Cubs lost 5-1 to the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field and were swept in the NLDS by Arizona, three games to none.
2005 – Cubs granted free agency to Ben Grieve
2005 – Cubs granted free agency to Scott McClain
1998 – Cubs granted free agency to Kevin Foster
1992 – Chesny Young, born
1992 – Cubs released Kal Daniels
1946 – Gene Clines, born
1945 – ‘The Billy Goat Curse’ … William Sianis bought a ticket for himself and his goat Murphy to game four of the World Series between the Cubs and Tigers. Sianis got upset with the Wrigley Field ushers when he was asked to take his goat out of the park. Sianis, a Greek immigrant, placed a curse on the Cubs that the team would never win a World Series.
1938 – Dizzy Dean held the Yankees to two runs in seven innings with his “nothing ball” in the second game of the World Series at Wrigley Field. But the Cubs could not hold onto the 3-2 lead. Frank Crosetti hit a two-run go-ahead homer in the eighth and Joe DiMaggio hit a two run homer in the ninth, Yankees won 6-3.
1930 – Hack Wilson hit a home run in the fifth inning to help the Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the White Sox at Comiskey Park and clinch the City Series, four games to two. Throughout the game, Cubs fans showered White Sox centerfielder Carl Reynolds with lemons in retaliation to Sox fans throwing tomatoes and other objects at Hack Wilson in the first five games of the series.