NLDS Game Four: Jason Hammel could help Cubs advance to NLCS with win


We’re inching closer to what could be the final meeting between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals this season, as the North Siders currently hold a 2-1 advantage over the N.L. Central winners.

Last night, Starlin Castro, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, and Dexter Fowler tagged Mike Matheny‘s pitching staff for six home runs which accounted for all of their eight runs.

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The ball seemed to be hopping off the bat pretty easily last night with the wind blowing out and switching directions. It’s not a rare thing to happen at Wrigley Field, especially if you have two power-hitting clubs such as these two going blow-for-blow.

Today, skipper Joe Maddon will call upon right-hander Jason Hammel and what will be his biggest outing as a starting pitcher. Not only will Hammel (10-7, 3.74 ERA) be picking up his third postseason start, he’ll need to keep up with 36-year-old John Lackey.

Hammel made two October starts as a member of the Baltimore Orioles and owns a 0-1 record with a 3.38 earned run average. He’s given up a total of four earned runs on eight hits while posting an 11/6 K/BB ratio across 11 1/3 frames.

Maddon’s 33-year-old veteran has flipped the script multiple times this season by working short outings or looking like the anchor of this rotation which is led by Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.

Lackey (1-0, 0.00 ERA) absolutely man-handled this Cubs lineup from start to finish, holding them to two hits through 7 1/3 scoreless innings before handing things over to Adam Wainwright last Friday.

He’ll be coming off of less than five days of rest for the third time in his postseason career. In those two starts, that were over 10-years-ago, he’s 1-1 with an ERA of 4.82.

Now that he’s well on his way to 40 years of age, how will he fare against this club a second time around? Only time will tell.

Quick note: Javier Baez will be starting for the injured Addison Russell who wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play today after leaving last night’s game with tightness in his hamstring.

Also, Yadier Molina will be replaced by Tony Cruz after exiting last night’s contest as well.

First pitch is scheduled for an early 3:30 p.m. central time start and will air live on TBS, WBBM 780 A.M.

Next: Are the Cubs the scariest team in the playoffs?