Chicago Cubs: Clinch and now get ready for post-season push
The Chicago Cubs have clinched their spot in this year’s postseason and now look to set themselves up for a deep run into October.
“It’s in the bag, it’s ours, that’s all,” Leo Durocher said, in the aftermath of the “shot heard ‘round the world” –when Bobby Thomson’s bottom of the ninth homer won the game for the NY Giants to beat rival Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951.
Now, the 2016 Chicago Cubs have won the Central Division. They did so when the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals a few days ago. That magic number had been one and now, it’s done. Then the next day, the Cubs rallied and beat the stubborn Milwaukee Brewers with Miguel Montero’s dramatic walk-off home run to the left-field bleachers. The Cubs had a tenth inning 5-4 win and a chance to dance in their newly renovated clubhouse. Montero’s drive might not have been as earth-shaking as Thomson’s home run, but it fit in just fine for Cubs fans.
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This version of the Chicago Cubs is better than that ’69 Cubs team that Durocher also managed. This team has broken records and made comparisons to teams in the 20’s and 30’s. Heck, people are looking back to 1908 when the Cubs last won the World Series. Yes, TR, was President back then, Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt “walked softly and carried a big stick.” These Cubbies, don’t walk softly, and they Embrace The Target. The Cubs (94-54) have emerged victorious in the marathon that is the regular season. Now, they will prepare for the playoffs, which can be a mercurial sprint.
Preparing for October
The rest of the season will likely be spent re-tooling on the fly. Manager Joe Maddon will rest key players, and give the reserves playing time, allowing the starters to retune and get mentally ready for the playoffs. Maddon is going to pay close attention to starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. He has been hittable lately and his command has been shaky. Maddon mentioned in a post-game press conference that he was “concerned” about Arrieta’s command. Well, he has two starts to get ready for the post-season. Hopefully, Arrieta can regain his fastball and work his magic again.
The last time the Cubs won the Division in 2008 they looked impressive going into the playoffs but were dispatched by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NDLS. Last season the Cubs beat the rival Cardinals in the NDLS only to be dominated by the NY Mets starting pitchers and a red-hot Daniel Murphy. Now, Murphy, who has had an MVP-like season for the Washington Nationals, could face the Cubs again.
Next: Comparing this team to last year's Cubs
It’s too early to talk about playoff matchups. Heck, the Cubs are the only team to have clinched a Division title so far. But the next few weeks will reveal which team is slotted to face the Cubs. In the meantime, the Cubs are going to the post-season again, with a strong team. They have played great thus far and have earned their “rest” –until the sprint really begins.