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   1. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 04, 2016 at 10:12 AM (#5312879)
I think a fan had to feel concerned about the way things went the last week of the season. After Hendricks' tidy win in the first game in Pittsburgh, each of the six subsequent games was marked either by a poor starting pitching performance, a rough bullpen outing or three, poor offense or some combination thereof.

But if we're going to talk about state of mind, there is nothing better for that than the late inning come back they managed on Sunday. So I am feeling pretty good about all of that. That should re-ring the confidence bell in everyone's head. The last time the Cubs had four days off following a bad stretch capped with a late inning win, they did pretty well.

I'm not too worried about any of the above negative factors, except for the "randomness of the playoffs" truism which every team faces. Heyward/Coghlan/Montero aren't going to play every day, but in the last couple of months, Coghlan has picked up from where he left off last season. I am interested in seeing what Heyward will do with the stat clocks all reset to zero. Montero, well, he has had some key hits lately as well. On any given day there is definitely room for one of Baez and Contreras to fill one of those spots. I don't worry about relief. It's a good bullpen overall, and they will have some good long guys to cover things if a starter falters.
   2. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: October 04, 2016 at 10:25 AM (#5312890)
Some light simulated game day reading:

How the Cubs Stack Up Within Baseball History

Maddon's playoff message

Hendicks in the playoffs (this seems to imply Hendricks will start game 2, which is something we've been speculating about here).

Feel free to drop in any other previews or news you find here.
   3. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: October 04, 2016 at 10:25 AM (#5312891)
I think a fan had to feel concerned about the way things went the last week of the season. After Hendricks' tidy win in the first game in Pittsburgh, each of the six subsequent games was marked either by a poor starting pitching performance, a rough bullpen outing or three, poor offense or some combination thereof.


Every time I think of that, I think of the 2000 Yankees. They lost their last 7, 15 of their last 18, and then went 11-5 in the playoffs.
   4. Covfefe Posted: October 04, 2016 at 10:25 AM (#5312892)
If it's going to be Montero/Coghlan/Heyward -- Maddon really does need to go back to hitting the pitcher 8th, I think, allowing the Cubs to expend the other team's primary LOOGY and break up the L/L/L with a Baez/Contreras PH.

One thing I cannot find on BBREF - or anywhere - the Cubs Wrigley night games record... I remember some pretty memorable wins - and I'm guessing it's probably pretty good, but wish I could find the numbers somewhere.

So far as opponents, I think I've decided I really want the Mets. I think they're both the easier team to get past -- and of course, there's vengeance for last year on the menu. Obviously, given the way 2015 went - the fact that the Cubs actually had their worst H2H record against the Mets scares me not in the least (in fact, the sweep came during the Times of Troubles... and I've written that period off as an aberration).

Have the Cubs announced the roster yet? I'm assuming they get to wait until they see the opponent -- though, I'm not exactly sure what would change.
   5. Covfefe Posted: October 04, 2016 at 10:30 AM (#5312896)
One thing I stumbled across on CLTV the other night --

In an ode to Vin Scully, they replayed his open from the 1989 NLCS -- it's worth the re-hearing...
   6. Covfefe Posted: October 04, 2016 at 10:48 AM (#5312902)
Though - should note from the Scully clip in 5... Frank Chance never played at Wrigley, Johnny Evers only played at Wrigley as a visitor, and Joe Tinker only played two games at Wrigley in his final season.
   7. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: October 04, 2016 at 10:53 AM (#5312904)
If it's going to be Montero/Coghlan/Heyward -- Maddon really does need to go back to hitting the pitcher 8th, I think, allowing the Cubs to expend the other team's primary LOOGY and break up the L/L/L with a Baez/Contreras PH.

When the Cubs had those 3 in the lineup together the last couple of weeks, Heyward hit 5, Russell 6, Coghlan 7, and Montero 8, which is somehow even worse since they meant Heyward was either coming up with guys on or leading off an inning (based on my faulty memory, so I can be proven wrong; this was the combo for at least 3 games). If they are going to play all 3 (and it looks likely in at least the Arrieta start), I'd consider going Montero 5, Russell 6, Coghlan 7 and Heyward 8.

By far the biggest criticism I have of Joe this year is how he's left Heyward up in the lineup. First, it was keeping him in the 2 hole: 306PAs with a .240/.325/.332 line; he's hit 6th for 189PAs and gone .247/.302/.368. He has 12PAs leading off, 39PAs hitting 5th, and 42PAs hitting 7th. He should undoubtedly be hitting 8th (or 9th, with the pitcher 8th), but I could live with 7th with Ross 8th on Lester days. Since we're talking about the lineup, it's a relatively minor complaint.
   8. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 04, 2016 at 11:17 AM (#5312936)
I think a fan had to feel concerned about the way things went the last week of the season. After Hendricks' tidy win in the first game in Pittsburgh, each of the six subsequent games was marked either by a poor starting pitching performance, a rough bullpen outing or three, poor offense or some combination thereof.


And yet, the Cubs went 3-2-1 in those games. The smart money is to always bet on the field against any specific team, but reading through the concerns here really just reinforces to me how strong the Cubs are. Everybody has weak links at the bottom of their lineup. Even the Red Sox have two starters listed at BB-Ref w/ OPS+ of 88 (Travis Shaw, 3B) and 84 (Brock Holt, LF). Everybody is concerned about their 4th and 5th relievers.

As for concerns specifically about Coghlan/Heyward/Montero, I don't see the Cubs running out a lineup that includes those three. There's no way Baez isn't starting somewhere in the infield, which moves either Bryant or Zobrist to the outfield, which only leaves one open corner outfield spot. And I wouldn't be at all surprised to see that spot filled by Contreras when Montero is catching and by Soler when Contreras is catching.

I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks. And I fully expect to be able to look back fondly on this season regardless of what happens from here on.
   9. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 04, 2016 at 11:26 AM (#5312951)
Incidentally, one cool thing that I actually saw on Twitter - Miguel Montero tweeted it - the Cubs' three catchers combined for exactly 30 home runs and exactly 100 RBI. Note: that's just adding up the full-season totals for Montero, Ross, and Contreras, and Contreras hit several HR at other positions (and Montero's last HR was as as PH), but that's still kind of cool.
   10. Covfefe Posted: October 04, 2016 at 11:41 AM (#5312982)
I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks. And I fully expect to be able to look back fondly on this season regardless of what happens from here on.


Ditto on the first, but it depends on the second... Certainly, a fun season. I also certainly recognize that even if you go in as the favorite, the odds are still against you vs the field come playoff time.

As I think we all said last year, while the NLCS sucked, it was certainly more than we expected and it was hard to feel too bad given both the fun and the future. The fun was there again this season and then some, and the future is still quite bright... but if it doesn't happen this year, it's gonna hurt bad.

I'd rather not find out where a theoretical 2016 heartbreak would rank, but even given the playoff crapshoot stuff, I'll be mightily disappointed with anything short of a title.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 04, 2016 at 11:45 AM (#5312990)
Incidentally, one cool thing that I actually saw on Twitter - Miguel Montero tweeted it - the Cubs' three catchers combined for exactly 30 home runs and exactly 100 RBI. Note: that's just adding up the full-season totals for Montero, Ross, and Contreras, and Contreras hit several HR at other positions (and Montero's last HR was as as PH), but that's still kind of cool.

I am severely disappointed at the shoddiness of Montero's methodology.
   12. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: October 04, 2016 at 11:57 AM (#5313008)
As for concerns specifically about Coghlan/Heyward/Montero, I don't see the Cubs running out a lineup that includes those three.

It happened multiple times down the stretch, so we'll see, and I sure hope we don't. Some specifics though:

Lineup in the last Lester start: Fowler/Bryant(LF)/Rizzo/Zobrist/Russell/Heyward/Baez(3b)/Ross. Exact same lineup 3 previous Lester starts. This seems like a safe bet for game 1, and just about any Lester start, regardless of other SP handedness. Maybe, maybe Soler in LF with Bryant at 3rd, but Baez at 3rd has been really common for Lester starts most of the season (helps against the bunting).

Lineup in the last Hendricks start: Fowler/Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist/Russell/Heyward/Soler/Contreras. Start before that was a Fowler/Russell day off, so Coghlan hit leadoff and Contreras 4th. Contreras is Hendricks' catcher. Start before that, Montero caught him (and hit right after Heyward), and Baez played 2nd. I'd assume it's most likely that group from the last game, with a chance of Coghlan over Soler depending on opposing pitcher.

Lineup in the last Arrieta start: Fowler/Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist/Heyward/Russell/Coghlan/Montero; vs righty and no Soler available. Start before that was the same group, but Russell and Heyward were swapped so we had the 3 lefties 6/7/8. Soler didn't PH, so can't remember if he was around or not (I think not). Start before that was Rizzo/Fowler/Russell day off, Contreras caught, and Jake was bombed (which may have cemented the Montero as his catcher thing). Unless it's a lefty, I'd say we see Coghlan/Montero/Heyward Jake starts.

Lineup in the last Lackey start: Bryant/Russell/Heyward day off, Montero caught. Previous start was also Russell day off, but Montero caught and Heyward hit 5th, Baez 6th (SS), Montero 7, Coghlan 8. So no really clue here about the most likely group.

The random Buchanan start: Fowler/Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist/Heyward/Russell/Coghlan/Montero; that was against a righty and Soler was unavailable, but yuck. That's the one that apparently is stuck in my head - both for Heyward 5th and Montero as the starter over Contreras (Federowicz started the day before in the scrub game, and Ross the day after, so it wasn't a rest thing). Not much to gleam from the Montgomery or Hammel starts, as there were random lineups (Contreras regularly caught him).
   13. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: October 04, 2016 at 12:00 PM (#5313014)
September was a weird month overall for the Cubs, as a lot of it was just counting down to the clinch, and then until end of the season. I barely addressed the handedness of the opposing pitcher; what happens if the Giants win and it's a Bumgarner/Arrieta matchup; I'd assume Soler over Coghlan but Will Heyward get benched so Montero can catch Jake, will Contreras catch and we have to hold our breaths for good Jake? Etc, etc...
   14. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: October 04, 2016 at 12:08 PM (#5313019)
Yes, I'm overthinking it...
   15. Covfefe Posted: October 04, 2016 at 12:20 PM (#5313032)
Borrowing one thing Walt posted in the other thread --


The relatively low BA and high Ks scare me a bit about an offensive slump but I under-rate this offense. They had a 107 OPS+ and the Dodgers/Nats are down at 98 and the Giants/Mets down at 94. The Giants are doing a bit of a Royals/Angels impersonation -- #4 in BA, easily the fewest Ks -- but that BA is only 2 points higher than the Cubs. So among NL playoff teams, the Cubs are tied #2 in BA, #1 in OBP by a good bit, #1 in SLG barely and #1 in ISO barely. So other than maybe the Giants' contact ability, the Cubs' offense looks no more slump-prone than the others.


One aspect of the Cubs offense that offsets this fear is that the team is certainly quite adept at working counts and massaging BBs. I think we've seen a fair number of games this year where either the bats aren't firing early or the guy on the mound is throwing well and the team just grinds them out of the game, maybe breaking through late or getting to the bullpen.

Of course, with the dumpster fire masquerading as a bullpen in SF -- that's probably the best matchup... the Mets bullpen is a fair bit better.
   16. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 04, 2016 at 12:41 PM (#5313054)
The Cubs are cursed, so they are certain to lose somewhere, but it's been a great season and I'll savor each win as if it is the last (because it might well be).
   17. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: October 04, 2016 at 01:42 PM (#5313145)
I know lots of people think that, but I hate that mindset.

---

Christopher Kamka ‏@ckamka 4m4 minutes ago
Most wins in a season by 5+ runs
(National League teams, 1901-2016)

1902 #Pirates 43
2016 #Cubs 42
1949 #Dodgers 42


Cool.
   18. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: October 04, 2016 at 02:35 PM (#5313233)
So, um, is the SI cover jinx still a thing? Or do they just put everything on there, so they're always wrong no matter what?

It is a cool cover though.
   19. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: October 04, 2016 at 04:09 PM (#5313315)
Patrick Mooney ‏@CSNMooney 17m17 minutes ago
Maddon announces #Cubs rotation for NLDS: Lester, Hendricks, Arrieta, Lackey.


Official. No surprise there.
   20. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 05, 2016 at 04:54 PM (#5314868)
So, um, is the SI cover jinx still a thing?

I think this curse will have to get in line behind the dozens of others that precede it.
   21. Covfefe Posted: October 05, 2016 at 04:57 PM (#5314874)
The better question -

Is SI still a thing?
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 05, 2016 at 05:36 PM (#5314910)
The better question -

Is SI still a thing?

Yeah, I was surprised. I thought it would only be an SI-at-the-top-of-the-homepage jinx by now.
   23. Covfefe Posted: October 05, 2016 at 11:37 PM (#5315492)
So we have our fodder...

and it appears it is 1989 that will be avenged, the even-year curse that will be broken, and the legend of Bumgarner that will be put to rest.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 05, 2016 at 11:47 PM (#5315502)
I'm rooting for the Cubs to break the Billy Goat jinx, but not The Curse of Mark Koenig. One step at a time, boys, one step at a time.
   25. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 06, 2016 at 01:17 AM (#5315532)
1989 was the first year of my Cubs fandom, so that's as good a year as any to avenge.
   26. Covfefe Posted: October 06, 2016 at 12:14 PM (#5315872)
Not sure if we're going to do a special Giants preview thread or not, but my thoughts --

When it comes to the SP, we obviously dodge a huge bullet by only seeing Bumgarner once. If the Giants could start him twice, I think you'd honestly have to give the rotation edge to the Giants if only because the Postseason Jesus really puts you in a hole. As it stands -- Cueto is certainly a fine ace, but except for last year's WS winner, he's been rather pedestrian in the postseason. The Cubs have also, of course, seen him a lot going back to his Reds days. He beat the Cubs in his only start against them last month, but even while Lester isn't Bumgarner (because no one is), Lester has a pretty nifty postseason resume himself. Bullpen Jesus scares me not in the slightest - which I'm sure means he throws a no-hitter in game 2. If 2015 Jake can show up in the MB showdown - that would be great. All in all, it feels like the Cubs have a slight edge here thanks to schedule. Lester/Cueto is probably a wash, but I'll take Hendricks/Lackey over BPJ/Moore any day.

The bullpen really ought to be a massive Cubs advantage. Even if Romo managed to put out the conflagration over the last couple weeks, I have every confidence that our pen ought to be able to do a better job of either holding leads or keeping games close, while I think we can certainly get to their pen. I like our setup guys better, I like our middle relief a LOT better, I like our nominal LOOGYs better, and the closer is no contest. Optimally, the pens won't matter - but it's nice to have this advantage in our back pockets.

I do think the Giants lineup is a bit underrated -- but their propensity to put the ball in play also plays well into the Cubs defensive strengths. Our lineup goes deeper - and of their offensive core (Belt/Posey/Pence) -- only Belt is really any kind of hot right now. Posey has had a down year and Pence obviously missed a lot of time. I think the Giants do have a very underrated 2nd tier in their lineup -- Panik is a grinder, Crawford has legitimately learned out to hit, Span is sort of a discount brand Fowler, etc. It would be nice if Heyward suddenly came to life, but that ship seems to have sailed long ago for 2016. Still, our big bats are better than their big bats and I think our secondary weapons are also a smaller, but still measurable bit better than theirs.

The Giants are probably the 2nd best defensive team in the NL -- but the Cubs, of course, are probably the NL's best defensive team. Other than (NO JINX!) curse anomalies, hard for me to see how we don't at least fight them to a draw in the field. Baez, of course, also gives the Cubs a premier bench glove all over the IF. I suspect Crawford wins the NL GG, but Russell probably finishes 2nd.

I'd likewise give the Cubs' bench the edge -- we ought to have plenty of options from both the left and right. The bench is flexible - only enhanced by Bryant and Zobrist's ability to play all over, too. Szczur (assuming he's on the roster) gives you a PR. Baez alone constitutes a nice glove option wherever you want to use him. Finally, unlike most 3rd catcher options that teams decide to carry in the postseason -- the Cubs' trio doesn't really have a worthless, break-glass-in-emergency member since Montero remembered how to hit in September. It's a really nice thing when you've got three catchers, all of whom can hit and two of whom can play defense (or even all three, if you want to cancel out Montero's throwing problems with his pitch-framing).

I'm gonna say Cubs in four.

I'm hoping for a relatively anxiety-free series that goes according to script... Lester outduels Cueto and the Cubs win a game 1 squeaker. Game 2 is a laugher. Game 3 goes how you might expect a Bumgarner game to go (my hope would be that Jake duels him to a near-draw, if only to make me feel better about future Jake starts)... and game 4 wraps it up.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: October 07, 2016 at 12:37 AM (#5316897)
While we will see only one MadBum start, you can rest assured he'll be available in relief for game 5 if need be (on 2 days rest). His 5 innings in G7 came on 2 days rest after a complete game in G5.

Let's hope it doesn't come to this but I'm fully prepared to hate that guy for the rest of my life.

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