The postseason is among us! The best ten teams in the league have punched their ticket to “the Dance” and will try to reach the pinnacle of the baseball world: winning the World Series. That road to the World Series starts tonight with the Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies in the winner-take-all national League Wildcard.
After coming off of a devastating loss to the Brewers in the NL Central tiebreaker, the Chicago Cubs are looking to make their fourth consecutive postseason one to remember (we all remember last years, that was a significant disappointment). The Cubs are looking for John Lester to have another dominant postseason start against the power-hitting Rockies. Lester has been consistent in the postseason having a career 9-7 record and a 2.55 ERA. The Cubs will need not only Lester to be good, but they will also desperately need their hitters actually to start hitting.
In the divisional tie-breaker, the Cubs only had three hits compared to the 12 hits that the Brewers had. You cannot expect to win a game on three hits, especially in a winner-take-all game. The Cubs will need a big game out of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and MVP Candidate Javier Baez. All of these players (except Rizzo) haven’t been that hot in the last few weeks. The Cubs need them to step up in the wildcard because if they do not, the season will end as a major disappointment.
The bullpen has struggled in big game situations as well. Justin Wilson has struggled all season long, Carl Edwards Jr. has struggled and the Cubs still do not have a closer. The Cubs have to hope that the team can take an early lead and that Lester can throw six to seven innings. You do not want to rely on the bullpen.
For the second season in a row, the Colorado Rockies will be playing in another wildcard. Led by Nolan Arenado, the Rockies caught the league by storm winning nine of their last eleven games. They almost knocked the defending National League West champions Los Angeles Dodgers off of first place but fell short last night in the tiebreaker.
The Rockies are sending out their ace Kyle Freeland on short rest to shut down the Cubs. Freeland has been lights out this season with a 17-7 record and a 2.85 ERA (in Coors Field mind you,) but is pitching on three days rest. Freeland has never pitched on three days rest. Freeland would need to go through at least five innings without allowing a run. If they can stop the Cubs early, they will surely win the game.
The Rockies will need to hit as well. With a lineup that stars Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Ian Desmond and Charlie Blackmon, the Rockies can change the game with one swing of the bat. They need to at least get Lester out by the fifth innings so they can beat up on the already bad Cubs bullpen.
The Rockies bullpen has been consistent since the beginning of last month. With closer Wade Davis and Scott Olberg both having great seasons, you will expect to see them in tonight’s game. They also have Seung-Hwan Oh and Adam Ottavino rounding out their staff. Scoring off of those pitchers is not an easy task.
With this being said, tonight’s game will be a close one. It will all come down to who will score first. Give the Cubs a lead, and they’re likely to win. Give the Rockies a lead, and they will have a chance to win. Predicting this game will be hard (because I can be biased to the Cubs) but I feel like it will be close.
PREDICTION: Cubs 4, Rockies 3. Lester goes seven innings giving up two runs while Freeman goes five innings giving up three runs.