The Chicago Cubs have found the going tough in the playoffs for a team that led the league in run differential. What should the Cubs do to get back on track in Game 4 against the Indians?
The Chicago Cubs were a force this season. With solid starting pitching and a potent offense, they led the majors in run differential with a +252. On Friday night, they were shutout for the fourth time this postseason. Not much has changed, so what do the Cubs need to do to get back on track?
In the NLCS, it was an infield single that got Anthony Rizzo out of his funk. Javier Baez wasn’t in one then as he was co-MVP of the NLCS with Jon Lester. But he’s not been the same player since. Really, outside of Ben Zobrist, there’s been little consistency so far in the World Series. From inside, there’s very little panic from the Cubs. The fans? That is a different story. With the Indians’ ace, Corey Kluber headed to the mound in Game 4 against John Lackey there’s a sense of urgency.
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So how does a team that is +151 runs better in run differential than their opponent keep struggling? Most of us know, the Cubs weren’t always the most consistent on offense. But when they figured it out, it was, essentially, brute force. In the NLCS the Cubs were shut out twice. Down 2-1, they exploded for 23 runs in the last three games. This series is looking awfully familiar.
Lose to a team’s ace, then another loss to a veteran pitcher whose numbers don’t really stand out. In Los Angeles, it was Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill. For Cleveland, insert Kluber and Josh Tomlin. In Game 4, the Cubs are going to get their second shot at Kluber–and it’s on short rest. This doesn’t guarantee success, but it could bode well for the Cubs offense.
With the lineup, there’s really not a whole lot to do differently. Joe Maddon could give Jason Heyward the nod in right field. He’s played Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan. There’s still Albert Almora, Jr, but I feel he doesn’t have full confidence in the young man quite yet.
It’s really about the Cubs being more disciplined. They’re swinging at pitches outside of the zone. They drew just one walk. They’ve basically NOT been the Cubs. Maddon has a way of getting this team back on track, so whatever it is that he does–time to do it again.
The Cubs faced Kluber in Game 1. They know what to expect. He’s a solid pitcher and a former Cy Young winner. But as many of the analysts would say, he’s no Kershaw. And we’ve seen what the Cubs did there. Terry Francona won’t expect Kluber to go deep if he has intentions of using him in a Game 7 situation. The Indians bullpen has been strong, but we’re getting a good look at all of them. The NLCS took a hard right turn in in Game 4. The Cubs are hoping the GPS does the same again.