This is it—the first step towards taking the 2016 Commissioners Trophy home to the Northside of Chicago. And the series will begin with a bang. The Chicago Cubs are ready.
The San Francisco Giants won’t have their ace Madison Bumgarner for Friday’s NLDS opener at Wrigley. Instead, they will start a pitcher who has been arguably as good, Johnny Cueto (18-5, 2.79 ERA) against the ace of Chicago Cubs’ staff, Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA).
Cueto has won his last four outings since a September 4th no-decision against Chicago at Wrigley Field. In that start, he allowed one run on five hits, struck out five, and walked one over seven innings in a 3-2 loss.
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He recently missed a start on September 25th due to a left groin strain. He returned to form against the Colorado Rockies on September 29th, striking out 11 in seven innings of work.
“I think you look at Johnny and Bum, and they’re both number ones,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in Chicago on Thursday.
The Giants will utilize their depth at pitching during this series. Bochy adamantly denied having a rotation set past Friday’s Game 1.
The Cubs, on the other hand, will make rotational decisions based on who has pitched well recently, and where their success has come.
With a collective 81 wins, 2.94 ERA, and .212 OPBA, Chicago’s coaching staff will have plenty of options to choose from.
Lester is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA against the Giants in his career. This year, he went 1-1 with a 4.69 ERA and beat San Francisco on September 2nd in a complete game decision. He fell short of a 20-win season, matching the most victories he’s had since 2010 while recording quality starts in all 15 games he pitched at Wrigley.
His career numbers at Wrigley field are just as impressive. In 235 innings, Lester is 18-11 with a 2.80 ERA. Opponents are slashing .225/.355/.633 against him at home as well.
San Francisco comes into the series off of their 11th straight postseason series win. They beat the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
Chicago posted the best overall record in the MLB this season, 103-58-1. Including a record of 4-3 against the Giants in the season series, and 3-1 at Wrigley.
The lineups for tonight’s game are as follows: