The National League Championship Series begins tonight (7:08pm CDT) between the Cubs and Dodgers. It’s Jon Lester versus Kenta Maeda in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
The Cubs and Dodgers will announce their 25-man rosters around 10:00am CDT with lineups released a few hours later. As of Friday, the Cubs reportedly had not finalized the roster. The Cubs are expected to have 12 pitchers on the active roster and 13 position players.
Rob Zastryzny, Jason Hammel, Joe Smith and Trevor Cahill are possibilities for the roster, with multiple reports indicating Zastryzny will be the fourth left-hander in the Cubs’ pen for the NLCS.
Offensively, the Cubs feel they will be able to build on the ninth inning of Game 4 even with the four-day break. The Cubs know that it will be hard to win another series if the offense struggles with putting runs on the board.
The Cubs are focused on Game 1 and maintaining the home field advantage they worked so hard to obtain during the season.
David Ross had an excellent regular season and it continued in the NLDS. Ross’ defense had a big impact in Game 1. And in Game 4 Ross drove in the Cubs first two runs while putting his name in the history books as the oldest catcher and oldest Cubs player to hit a home run in a postseason game.
According to the Sun-Times, concussions played a role in David Ross’ decision to retire.
Gordon Wittenmyer reported that Ross admitted Friday the “growing awareness of the seriousness of his years of shots to the facemask and multiple concussions” aided the decision he made to make this season his last as a player.
“Unless you’ve gone through something like that it’s hard to put into words,” Ross said to the Sun-Times. “I really was uneducated about it and didn’t really put a whole lot of stock into it until it happened to me. And then you realize how bad that is and how important it is to make sure that gets taken care of.”
“You get hit in the head and get that feeling and it doesn’t go away and you’re annoyed, and you’re just not the same person. It’s nothing you can fake. You’re not a good dad. I’m short with my kids and my wife. And you get seasick riding in a car and can’t be in public places. It’s miserable. It’s a nightmare,” Ross explained to the Sun-Times.
Ross’ value to the Cubs cannot be measure by WAR or seen on a stat line that can be pulled up on Baseball-Reference. Ross is one of the most respected players in the game. And those that put little stock into that statement think back about this past season and the recognition he received from other teams throughout the league. How often has than happened with a career backup catcher?
Jon Lester said Friday that Ross is the “heartbeat” of the Cubs clubhouse.
David Ross has said he will walk away from baseball after the Cubs are done playing this year. Let’s hope his Yearlong Retirement Party has at least two more weeks left in it.
Miguel Montero is expected to be on the Cubs’ roster for the NLCS. Montero admitted to Bruce Levine that his back did lock up on him in San Francisco. But Montero felt better as of Friday and he will be one of three catchers on the roster.
With Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta scheduled to start the first three games of the NLCS, the Cubs will have three different catchers behind the plate for the first three games.
David Ross will catch Jon Lester. Willson Contreras should start Sunday and catch Kyle Hendricks, especially with Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers. Miguel Montero and Jake Arrieta should be paired for Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.
News and Notes
• Comcast SportsNet explained the Dodger moves that directed the Cubs toward the NLCS. The Joe Maddon–Andrew Friedman relationship adds compelling subplot to Cubs-Dodgers NLCS according to David Haugh. And the Cubs, Dodgers are set to renew old acquaintances according to ESPN Chicago.
• Joe Maddon and Dave Roberts are the only two managers Andrew Friedman has hired as Bob Nightengale pointed out.
• The Tribune provided a preview and made predictions on the National League Championship Series. FOX Sports posted their picks on who will make the World Series. And the Cubs are overwhelming favorites to win the NLCS according to ESPN and the ZiPS projection system.
• The Sun-Times asked if the Cubs can stop Dave Roberts from stealing another October upset.
• The Cubs practiced bunting off a pitching machine during Friday’s workout at Wrigley before the team took batting practice.
• ESPN Chicago reported the Cubs won’t alter rotation for NLCS.
• According to the Sun-Times, rookie Rob Zastryzny could be the big lefty weapon versus Dodgers in NLCS.
• Comcast SportsNet explained how the Cubs built a bigger and better version of last year’s NLCS team. According to Jon Lester the Cubs are in a better place after 2015 NLCS experience. Bruce Levine reported Jon Lester is primed for Game 1 start and isn’t buying any curse talk. These Cubs are more prepared to take center stage according to Chris Emma. And the Cubs are prepared for their own Clayton Kershaw moment according to Tony Andracki.
• Javier Baez was the star of the NLDS for the Cubs and according to Carrie Muskat he’s trying to take all of the attention in stride. Former scouting director’s faith in Javier Baez has paid off for the Cubs according to Ken Rosenthal.
• According to Carrie Muskat, one year after hitting a home run on top of the right field scoreboard, Kyle Schwarber is a cheerleader … and the ball is still up there.
• Wrigley Field’s scoreboard operator, Fred Washington, is set to retire at the end of the season. Washington has worked at Wrigley since 1984 and would like to the Cubs win the Series in his last year with the team.
• Joel Sherman reported Clayton Kershaw joined a list with Big Unit, MadBum and Grover Cleveland Alexander and can rewrite the book on his playoff performance.
• The Dodgers expect Kenley Jansen to be available for Game 1 of the NLCS according to Comcast SportsNet.
• During Maddon’s press conference Friday it was pointed out that all four teams in the postseason have championship droughts lasting multiple decades. Joe Maddon said, “We have more than multiple decades.”
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 14, 2016
This Day in Cubstory
2013 – Cubs granted free agency to Darnell McDonald
2006 – Cubs granted free agency to Kerry Ligtenberg, Luis Montanez, Augie Ojeda, Michael Restovich and Mac Suzuki
2005 – Cubs granted free agency to Mark Johnson, David Kelton, Calvin Murray and Cody Ransom
2004 – Cubs granted free agency to Denny Hocking, Trent Hubbard, Russ Johnson, Fernando Lunar, Kevin McGlinchy, Bill Selby and Kevin Tolar
2003 – Cubs lost Game 7 of the NLCS to the Marlins 9-6 and the series four games to three.
2003 – Cubs granted free agency to Willie Banks, Midre Cummings, Craig Dingman, Mike Mahoney, Keith McDonald, Rudy Seanez and Justin Kaye
2002 – Cubs granted free agency to Kimera Bartee, Mark Budzinski, Mario Encarnacion, Ben Ford, Chris Gissell, Brandon Kolb, Mickey Lopez, Julio Zuleta and Marc Wilkins
2002 – Cubs released Wilfredo Rodriguez
2001 – Cubs granted free agency to Todd Dunwoody, Ben Ford, Rick Short and Rob Stanifer
2000 – Cubs granted free agency to Brendan Donnelly, Mike Mahoney and David Manning
1999 – Cubs granted free agency to Robin Jennings, Sandy Martinez, Bry Nelson and Brad Woodall
1999 – Cubs released Gary Gaetti
1997 – Cubs selected Jason Hardtke off waivers from the Mets
1996 – Cubs granted free agency to Brian Dorsett, Todd Haney, Hector Ortiz, Mike Perez, Carlos Pulido, Terry Shumpert, Taynon Sturtze and Roberto Rivera
1995 – Cubs granted free agency to Manny Martinez
1994 – Cubs granted free agency to Mark Grace, Todd Haney, Mark Sharperson, Craig Worthington and Mark Lee. Mark Grace re-signed with the Cubs as a free agent on April 7, 1995.
1990 – Cubs granted free agency to Kevin Blakenship and Pat Sheridan
1988 – Cubs granted free agency to Bob Tewksbury
1984 – Cubs granted free agency to Bill Earley and Tom Filer
1983 – Cubs granted free agency to Scot Thompson
1982 – Cubs traded Herman Segelke to the Giants to Alan Hargesheimer
1978 – Juan Cruz, born
1922 – Cubs selected Bob Barrett from Little Rock in the Rule 5 Draft
1922 – Cubs selected Ed Stauffer from Bridgeport in the Rule 5 Draft
1922 – Cubs won their first City Series in 13 years after Grover Cleveland Alexander shut out the White Six 2-0 in the seventh game in front of 32,000 at Comiskey Park. Hack Miller drove in Ray Grimes with the first and winning run in the sixth inning.
1909 – Cubs won the City Series, four games to one. Mordecai Brown held the White Sox to one hit and the Cubs held on to a 1-0 victory at West Side Grounds.
1885 – Cubs scored three runs in the sixth inning and took a 5-4 lead over the Browns in the second game of the Championship Series at St. Louis. The game is called after the sixth inning and forfeited to the Cubs 9-0 after the Browns stomped off the field in protest of umpire Dan Sullivan.