The NLCS resumes Tuesday night (7:08pm CDT) in Los Angeles with a Game 3 matchup of Jake Arrieta versus former Cubs’ lefty Rich Hill.
The Cubs haven’t exactly lit up the scoreboard during the postseason. And there could be changes to the Cubs lineup beyond not starting Jason Heyward against the Dodgers’ southpaw due to the offensive struggles of the entire team.
Joe Maddon said Monday he might shake up his lineup and is “thinking about different things” but there would not be wholesale changes. Maddon could switch up his three, four and five spots according to Jon Paul Morosi. Any changes would be subtle according to Carrie Muskat.
“There’s only so much you can possibly do when it comes to manipulating your lineup. I mean, these are the guys that got you here. These are your guys. We’ve got a bunch of All-Stars out there. So some guys are struggling, and you’re right, a part of it, I think, is due to the fact that we’ve seen Bumgarner, Samardzija, Matty and Cueto. That’s not bad. And then we saw Kershaw on Sunday night. There’s a lot of Cy Young candidates among that group,” Maddon explained.
“We haven’t hit to our capabilities. However, we won a series against a really good October-tested team and now we’re 1-1 against a very good team coming back here. You try to balance it out. You look at the pitching for the next two days. There are different things we possibly can do,” Maddon said. “There is no question about that. But when you talk about doing something differently, that’s just going to be a small percentage, a smidgen of the whole thing. You just don’t make wholesale changes.”
Jorge Soler is a possibility to be in the lineup Tuesday against Rich Hill and Wednesday against Julio Urias in Game 4. Albert Almora Jr. is also a possibility for right field with the two lefties starting for the Dodgers.
Miguel Montero is expected to catch Jake Arrieta tonight in Game 3.
Addison Russell has struggled mightily at the plate during the postseason. And Russell admitted to Comcast SportsNet that fatigue might be playing a factor.
“The speed of the game is pretty much the same. The intensity has changed. Having played 168 games-plus is new to me. I’m doing what I need to do to make sure my body’s prepared and then we’ll go from there.”
Russell pointed out to Tony Andracki that this is his “first time playing this long for this many consistent games” and it’s been “different” for the Cubs’ shortstop.
Russell worked with John Mallee at Dodger Stadium during the team’s practice. Russell also had a conversation with Maddon and “discussed staying through the ball and finishing his swing.” Russell said he thought it would be “an easy adjustment.”
Teams started pitching Russell differently in September. Russell has not been able to apply the adjustment he knows he must make. Russell feels he is close and pointed to the lack of strikeouts as being a good sign and that some of the batted balls will start turning into hits.
Dodgers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal accused the Cubs of stealing signs during Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday.
Grandal, who should not be accusing anyone of cheating much less an entire team, told the Los Angeles Times, “All the sudden, Russell is not taking good swings at sliders, looking like he’s looking for a fastball and in a certain location. Did we know Zobrist had the signs and was doing something for it? Yeah, we did. We are literally paranoid when it comes to men on second and they are trying to get signs. We know who is getting the signs. We know what they’re doing. We know what they do to get it.”
“This is hilarious … umm … no I was not stealing signs. Glad you think my baseball IQ is that high.”
And when Addison Russell was asked about the Cubs stealing signs, he said, “I don’t think I’ve been on base so how can I steal signs?”
Dave Roberts finally announced Monday that 20-year old lefty Julio Urias will start Game 4 of the NLCS. Urias will be the first 20-year old pitcher to start a postseason game since Brett Saberhagen in 1984.
Roberts would not commit to Kershaw coming back on short rest and starting Game 5. Instead, Roberts said Kenta Maeda is lined up for Game 5.
There is no way Kershaw doesn’t start the fifth game of the series. The Dodgers do not want the series to go back to Wrigley. Even if the Cubs win one of the next two games, the Dodgers will want the option of having Kershaw available out of the pen for a possible Game 7.
Cubs TV Ratings
According to Maury Brown, Game 2 of the NLCS was the most-watched telecast in FS1 history. The Cubs and Dodgers had an average audience of 7,291,000 on Sunday night.
In Chicago, the overnight rating was a phenomenal 23.9.
Diamondbacks – Mike Hazen
The Diamondbacks announced Mike Hazen as the team’s Executive Vice President and General Manager on Sunday. Hazen was the Red Sox’s GM under Dave Dombrowski and left his job in Boston to take the job in Arizona running the baseball operations for the D-Backs.
Tony La Russa was retained and will stay with the organization as the Chief Baseball Analyst and Advisor.
Ken Rosenthal reported the D-Backs had an informal conversation with Jason McLeod about the job.
News and Notes
• The Sun-Times reported Theo Epstein praised former GM Jim Hendry for his influence on the Cubs playoff run.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, future GM Jason McLeod plans to finish the job with the Cubs.
• In this must-read report, the Cubs’ front office is baseball’s version of the Rat Pack, cool and shrewd, trying to build upon legend according to Bob Nightengale.
• The Tribune detailed how Theo Epstein built the Cubs … 140 players, 37 trades, 80 signings and 85 departures.
• The Cubs are relying on Jake Arrieta’s history, confidence in Game 3 of the NLCS according to the Tribune. The Sun-Times reported the Cubs-Dodgers is a best of five and it’s High Stakes Jake’s series now. As NLCS becomes best-of-five, Dodgers look more like Giants to Cubs according to the Sun-Times.
• Joe Maddon told the beat writers Monday that he was “honored” Aroldis Chapman invited him to the players section of the plane on the flight to Los Angeles. The second time the players have asked their manager to hang out. According to ESPN Chicago, that was the moment Joe Maddon knew the Cubs were over their Game 2 loss … a must-read report that illustrates Maddon’s relationship with his players.
• Jon Heyman reported the Dodgers deserve praise for cancelling Aroldis Chapman deal, but it may cost them.
• The Cubs worked on bunting drills Monday. Second time the Cubs have been seen working on bunting since advancing to the NLCS.
• Chris Archer will provide World Series analysis for ESPN according to Marc Topkin. Archer did an incredible job last year and will add insight that only he can provide.
• Comcast SportsNet explained how ex-Cub Rich Hill reinvented himself and returned from the baseball wilderness.
• Danny Ecker reported the Cubs turn ‘W’ into lifestyle clothing brand.
• The Players’ Tribune – From Where I See It: Wrigley Field
• Cardinals’ LHP Zach Duke had Tommy John surgery and has his flexor muscle repaired last week according to Jenifer Langosch. Duke’s surgeries were unexpected. It was not known publicly that the Cardinals’ reliever was having problems. Duke will miss the entire 2017 season.
• Andrew Miller is the perfect relief pitcher according to FanGraphs. Miller has dominated this postseason like no one ever has. Miller has faced 17 batters in first three games of ALCS. Miller has struck out 13 of the 17 batters, allowing just two hits and two groundouts.
• MLB stars David Price, Noah Syndergaard, Jose Altuve, Adam Jones and Chris Archer have become cartoons on the Cartoon Network’s Uncle Grandpa.
• According to Bob Nightengale the Dodgers had a bold message in the visiting clubhouse at Wrigley and it revealed their confidence about upsetting the Cubs in the NLCS … “Keep Buying into the Process! We will win this Series.”
• Prior to Game 3 of the ALCS, Kris Bryant recorded the two hardest hit balls of the players remaining in the postseason. And Javier Baez ranked fifth on Daren Willman’s list.
• Terry Francona had Curt Schilling and the bloody sock during the Red Sox World Series run in 2004. The Indians skipper had to work around Trevor Bauer dripping blood from his cut finger Monday in Game 3 of the ALCS. Bauer cut his finger working on a drone and had his start pushed from Game 2 to Game 3 after receiving 10 stitches. Bauer had to leave the game in the first inning.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 18, 2016
• Major League Baseball is pushing for a 10-round International Draft that would start in 2018 according to Buster Olney.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 18, 2016
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs released Tsuyoshi Wada
2000 – Cubs granted free agency to Tarrik Brock, Raul Gonzalez, Brent Hinchliffe, Keith Luuloa, Vincente Palacios, Danny Young and Mark Dalesandro
1986 – Cubs granted free agency to Terry Francona
1966 – Cubs released Joey Amalfitano
1966 – Cubs released Marty Keough
1955 – Ralph Kiner announced his retirement. The Hall of Famer played for the Cubs in 1953-54.
1949 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Andy Varga
1939 – Cubs released Jack Russell
1939 – Cubs released Earl Whitehill
1886 – The Chicago National League Ball Club won the opener of the Championship Series by beating the Browns 6-0 behind John Clarkson at West Side Park.