Chicago Cubs have the potential to be spoilers in the playoffs
If you’re thinking about a dynasty, the Chicago Cubs do still have some pressure upon them in these playoffs. But after winning it last year, the Cubs might play a little looser and free. And that may be all they need to spoil the Nationals’ hopes.
I can remember almost every game of the 2016 playoffs for the Chicago Cubs. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve rewatched it on DVD about 300 times since then. But still, the memory of the games will stick with me for a long time. The Cubs won the division–as they were supposed to–but the expectations changed. With the season the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals had, the NL Central was something of an afterthought. The Cubs were still a good team, but there was no way they could beat the teams they would face in the playoffs.
This isn’t incorrect, as they’ve struggled against most teams in the NL playoffs. The Arizona Diamondbacks are the only playoff team they’ve managed a .500 record against this season (3-3). And on top of that, they’ll be on the road for three of the five games of the series. Of course, that didn’t seem to stop them before. Most baseball fans have been fixated on the Cleveland Indians and what they’ve done this year. So maybe the Cubs are being overlooked? Let’s hope so.
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Joe up to his tricks?
The Nats’ Max Scherzer left his last start after aggravating his hamstring. While the MRI showed no severe damage, he couldn’t commit to a Game 1 start. For that matter, Joe Maddon hasn’t committed to his Game 1 starter. Is it possible that Maddon might try to play a matchup game if Scherzer can’t go? It looks to be Kyle Hendricks or Jon Lester with Jake Arrieta pushed back to Game 3. But which way could the Cubs’ skipper go?
The Cubs haven’t played the Nats’ since Aug. 6, right as they had overcome the deficit over the Milwaukee Brewers and claimed the division lead. The Cubs play had improved immensely since then, but did the Nationals see the best Cubs team they were going to see? Not likely. So believing that the Cubs don’t have much of a chance based on that info is misleading. Plus, it’s the playoffs. If you looked at last season, nothing the Cubs managed to do made sense. They simply did it.
No contest in the NL East
The Nationals were never challenged in the NL East. The Miami Marlins got the closest, finishing at 20 games back. It was the Nats year to win the East. But the year has taken a toll on their players, as many are currently hurt or battling injury, leaving their status for the NLDS in question. The Cubs had their bout with injury as well, but have for the most part overcome it and head into the NLDS healthy.
You’ve got Scherzer’s status for Game 1 in question. Brian Goodwin is on the DL and could miss the NLDS against the Cubs. Stephen Drew will be out with an abdominal strain, and Bryce Harper is just getting back to playing after his bone bruise. For the Cubs? It’s just Arrieta and his hamstring and Koji Uehara and his knee infection that will keep him out. The Cubs are coming in the healthier team, and that could be the difference.
Next: Pitching could be the difference in NLDS
Time to prove if this is a dynasty
After the Cubs won last season, fans and pundits started talking about the potential of a dynasty. So many young position players under team control for a while, they had the best chance of anyone. But of course, baseball happened. Not everyone had the career year they had last year, and the Cubs stumbled out of the gate.
The talk went from dynasty to if they should trade Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber or Albert Almora? Please. I always believed they would win the division. And in turn, would be glad they didn’t trade guys away. It was closer than I thought for longer than I
expected. But the Cubs got the job done. Now it’s time to add to the legend of Theo Epstein, Maddon and the rest of the Cubs team.