Defense and pitching were on display for the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS. One massive blow won the game. Can they avoid a “shark” attack in Game 2 and control the series?
It was a battle that everyone expected. Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto pitched lights out. Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross stared down the San Francisco Giants after throwing out a would-be base thief. He followed that by picking off another runner leaning off first. Javier Baez showed why he was in the line-up gathering up everything it toward him and blasting an eighth-inning home run for the game’s only score. Cubs win.
Game 2 features an interesting story. It is the story of how Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein build this team into a serious contender.
The Chicago Cubs lead all MLB playoff teams in number of players (15) acquired via trade, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays. Epstein and his staff often players for prospects. For example, Anthony Rizzo was traded from the San Diego Padres for Andrew Cashner. And, Dexter Fowler was part of a trade from the Houston Astros for Dan Straily and Luis Valbuena. Then, you have Addison Russell who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics for…
More from Chicago Cubs News
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
- Cubs: P.J. Higgins deserves to be in the lineup on a daily basis
Jeff Samardzija. The starter for the Giants in Game 2.
The “Shark” performed well this season, going 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA and a WHIP of 1.20. While he did struggle in the June and July, Samardzija improved the Giants rotation. Already down a game in the series and playing in front of the energized stadium in the playoffs, the Giants need Samardzija to shut down the Cubs.
In two appearances since the trade, the Cubs beat Samardzija both times. With one home game (with White Sox) and one road game (with Giants), Samardzija is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in 10 innings versus the Cubs. That is his third worst ERA versus a team in his career. Most noteworthy is that his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 1.60 when facing the Cubs.
Another player brought to the Chicago Cubs via trade will take the mound in hopes of controlling the series. Kyle Hendricks, the MLB ERA leader this year, came to the Cubs in a trade that sent Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers.
The 2016 season for Hendricks was amazing. The young right-hand pitcher used his command of the strike zone and control of speed to keep batters off balance. He set career marks innings pitched, strikeouts, walks and hit per inning, and complete game.
The last time the young Hendricks faced the Giants was on the road this year in May. That day, gave up one run on three hits and three walks. He lost. The final score was 1-0 and Madison Bumgarner took the win. But, again, the game was in San Francisco. A sign of great things to come.
Hendricks excels at Wrigley. First of all, there is his 9-2 record at home, better than Jake Arrieta. Also, only 4 of the 15 home runs he allowed came at Wrigley. Furthermore, opposing teams score 17 runs in 15 games off Hendricks. Impressive numbers for the young star.
Key for the Cubs
The key two Game 2 of the NLDS for the Chicago Cubs will be the offense. While many of the Cubs player have not fared well against the Giants, the team batting average against Samardzija is .333.
Ben Zobrist has success against the Giants in his career, batting .304 and 11 walks. That is a .439 on-base percentage. The same could be said for Jason Heyward. All time, Heyward bats .296/.378/.496 versus Giant pitching. Therefore, it will be important for the middle of the Cubs order to get on base.
In order to take what will feel like a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, the Cubs will need to attack the “shark” early and often. The pitching and defense can keep the team in the game. Hendricks allowed only 13 stolen bases and teams grounded into 12 double plays against him. After a poor running attempts last night, the Giants may not try tonight. If the Cubs offense hits, it will be an exciting evening of baseball.
Game 2 of the series between the Giants and the Cubs will air on MLB Network starting at 7pm Central. Check your television provider for channel number.
Here are the lineups for today’s match:
Be sure to check back during the game as well be keeping up with the game on this thread!