It’s Game 162 today as the Cubs look to put a bow on the regular season in Cincinnati with win No. 103. The Cubs have four days off as Maddon’s team waits for the winner of the NL Wild Card.
The NL Wild Card Game is Wednesday and will be at Citi Field. The Mets beat the Phillies 5-3 on Saturday and not only punched their ticket to the postseason tournament but clinched home field advantage for the one-game playoff.
The Giants are one game ahead of the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card. And it’s simple, if the Giants win they are in and will face Noah Syndergaard and the Mets on Wednesday. If the Giants lose and the Cardinals win, the two teams will square off in a Game 163 in St. Louis on Monday.
The Nationals grabbed home field for the NLDS and will host the Dodgers on Friday.
Kyle Hendricks makes the start for the Cubs this afternoon (2:10pm CDT) as he looks to end his regular season on a positive note.
Joe Maddon said Saturday that Hendricks will be limited to five innings. The Cubs are looking for him to get his work in with no more than five innings and turn the game over to the bullpen.
Maddon is expected to start his regulars in the season finale. As he’s done throughout the week, after three or four at-bats, Maddon will empty his bench and give his starters the rest of the day off.
Winning today’s game in Cincinnati would be the right way to cap an incredible and unforgettable regular season. And the Cubs would be able to enjoy a little Meat Loaf on the flight home to Chicago.
Jon Lester finished what was an excellent regular season with a bad outing in Cincinnati. Lester has been one of the best pitchers in the game all season and arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball during the month of September. Lester had one of those starts in which he has from time to time. And he ended up a win short of 20 for the season.
Lester called his season “special on a personal level” and that it will probably go down as one of the best of his career.
Lester finished the regular season 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 3.41 FIP. Lester’s 2.44 ERA and 1.01 WHIP are the lowest of his career and he equaled his career-best 19 wins (2010).
Lester has the third lowest ERA by a Cubs’ lefty in a single-season since 1920 behind only Dick Ellsworth (2.11 ERA, 1963) and Ray Prim (2.40 ERA, 1945).
As would be expected, Lester was not happy at all with the way he pitched on Saturday.
“For whatever reason, just fighting myself today,” Lester said to ESPN Chicago. “I’ll look at it, and if there are adjustments to be made, I’ll work on it next week.”
Lester also pointed out that the Cubs 100-plus win season will mean nothing with the title according to ESPN Chicago.
“This season isn’t anything unless we do what we showed up at Spring Training to do … win a World Series,” Lester said. “I don’t want to sound like an a—hole or anything, but we haven’t really done anything yet.”
“This is the real season now. You play 162 to get to now,” Lester said. “It’s go time. Now we have to live up to the expectations and hype.”
NLDS Lineup, Rotation
With Jon Lester expected to start Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday, Joe Maddon likely used the same lineup Saturday that he will for the postseason opener.
• Dexter Fowler CF, Kris Bryant LF, Anthony Rizzo 1B, Ben Zobrist 2B, Addison Russell SS, Jason Heyward RF, Javier Baez 3B, David Ross C, Jon Lester P
Maddon has actually used the same lineup in each of Jon Lester’s last three starts. The Lester Lineup has Baez at third, Ross behind the plate and Kris Bryant in left field. Regardless if the Cubs are facing a right-hander or a left-hander, this lineup and defensive alignment gives the Cubs the best chance to succeed with Lester on the mound.
Maddon indicated Saturday the Cubs would likely announce the playoff rotation on Tuesday. All signs, and reports, are pointing to Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta starting the first three games.
Jorge Soler is expected to play Sunday and could even start the final game of the regular season.
Soler hit in the cage before Saturday’s game. Soler tested his sore right side again. Reports did not surface as to how he felt following batting practice.
Soler has not played in eight days. Soler stayed behind and had two MRIs on his right side as the Cubs try to determine what is going on with him. Both MRIs came back clean. Soler said Friday he still felt discomfort and was not able to play.
Joe Maddon indicated he doesn’t have to play this weekend in order to be included on the NLDS roster. Maddon also pointed to the possibility of Soler not making the roster in order to give him more time to get ready for the next round if the Cubs advance in the tournament.
John Lackey, Jason Hammel and the Sim Game
The Cubs have scheduled a simulated game for Tuesday at Wrigley Field as part of the workouts to keep the players sharp during the four day layoff.
The Cubs will take Monday off following the last day of the regular season.
There is a sim game set up Tuesday, that is closed to the public, the Cubs will have workouts Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Game 1 of the NLDS.
According to multiple reports, John Lackey and Jason Hammel are among the pitchers that will throw in the sim game. The Tribune indicated “a few relievers” are also scheduled to pitch.
Wednesday’s workout, according to the Tribune, will “cover plenty of defensive work.”
Clear the Way! – Boys of Spring
Tim Sheridan, the long-time voice of Cubs Spring Training games in Mesa, updated his video for Clear the Way! If you haven’t seen it, this is must-see-TV for all Cubs fans. This is the best hype video that I’ve seen.
Here is a link where the song can be purchased and downloaded (CLICK HERE).
Beginning Thursday, Sept. 29 and running through Saturday, Oct. 8 all proceeds from every download will go to the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. The song download is $1.29.
This is a great song that now can be purchased for a great cause due to the outstanding work Rizzo’s Foundation has done.
News and Notes
• The Cubs are transitioning from celebrating to all business as playoffs approach according to the Tribune. Joe Maddon told Jesse Rogers, “For me, mission accomplished these last 10 days of whatever its been.”
• Patrick Mooney talked to Joe Maddon and Comcast SportsNet explained how the Cubs plan to deploy Javier Baez in the playoffs.
• Joe Maddon combined Pedro Stop and Hector Rondon and created “Strondon” while discussing his two late-inning relievers Saturday. Strop had a good inning Saturday. Rondon … well, not so much. Rondon was hit hard again and forced ESPN Chicago to ask is Hector Rondon a concern for Cubs heading into the postseason. Maddon is not concerned, according to the report. Maddon thought “he had great stuff” on Saturday. Maddon pointed to bad location “and possibly just the moment” as the reasons for his struggles.
• The players held a meeting during the series in Pittsburgh to determine how their playoff shares would be distributed according to the Tribune.
• Unheralded Jake Buchanan made a favorable impression for the Cubs according to the Tribune.
• Jim Bowden’s picks for this year’s awards: Kris Bryant – NL MVP; Max Scherzer – NL Cy Young; Dave Roberts – NL Manager of the Year; Theo Epstein – NL Executive of the Year
• Joel Sherman’s MLB Awards picks: Kris Bryant – NL MVP; Max Scherzer – NL Cy Young; Dave Roberts – NL Manager of the Year
• With the Voice of Baseball calling the final game of his remarkable career today, here is a little Vin Scully and his Ode to Wrigley Field from 27 years ago …
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – In a matchup of 100-loss teams, only the second occurrence in Major League history, the Astros (55-105) beat the Cubs (60-100) at Wrigley Field, 3-0. In 1962, the Cubs (58-101) and expansion Mets (39-118) played at Wrigley Field.
2010 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Jeimer Candelario
2006 – Jim Hendry announced the Cubs would not be renewing Dusty Baker’s contract to return as the team’s manager. Baker won an NL Central title in 2003 and finished his four-year run as Cubs manager with a 322-326 record.
2001 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 60 and became the first player in big league history to hit 60 or more homers in three seasons.
1987 – Rafael Lopez, born
1984 – Cubs beat the Padres 13-0 in game one of the NLCS. Rick Sutcliffe , Bobby Dernier, Ron Cey, Gary Matthews homered, Ryne Sandberg went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and a RBI.
1979 – Preston Gomez was hired as the Cubs manager replacing interim skipper Joe Amalfitano, who took over for Herman Franks on Sept. 24.
1964 – Hector Villanueva, born
1935 – Lon Warneke pitched a four-hit shutout in a 2-0 win over the Tigers in the first game of the World Series.
1932 – Cubs lost 13-6 to the Yankees at Wrigley Field to close out the World Series. The Yankees won the series four game to none.
1925 – Grover Cleveland Alexander and the White Sox Ted Blankenship pitched all 19 innings of a game that ended in a 2-2 tie in the City Series at Comiskey Park.
1910 – Cubs clinched the National League Pennant with an 8-4 win over the Reds in Cincinnati.