Chicago Cubs stand to benefit from underdog status
Despite their status as defending World Champs, the Chicago Cubs are already underdogs in their first playoff series. That should suit them just fine.
The Chicago Cubs head into the postseason on a roll. Winners of 15 of their last 19 games, they seem to be peaking at just the right time. And when it comes to playoff baseball, momentum is everything.
The Washington Nationals, the Cubs first-round opponent, are in a little funk of sorts. Losers of six of their last 11, the team also has to deal with ace right-hander Max Scherzer‘s hamstring injury and superstar Bryce Harper‘s reintegration into the lineup following a long stint on the DL.
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Finally the Nats year?
Nonetheless, most pundits are picking the Nationals to advance to the NLCS. Not a ridiculous notion by any means, as there’s a lot to like about their chances. Their rotation is among baseball’s best and their lineup has a deadly combination of power and speed. They’ll be a tough out for any team, let alone the Cubs.
While it’s not surprising that the Cubs aren’t favored, perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise. As we all know, last year the Cubs entered the playoffs as the overwhelming favorites to win the World Series. If that wasn’t enough, they also had that whole ‘108 years since a championship’ monkey on their back. There was enormous pressure to win it all.
This year will be different. As previously mentioned the Cubs aren’t overwhelming favorites. They aren’t favored in their opening matchup. Whatever pressure that exists within the Cubs’ camp doesn’t even compare to the pressure of 2016.
Lowkey, no pressure
With the Indians and their 22-game winning streak, the Dodgers’ 103-win season and the Astros’ balanced lineup, they stand to dominate the playoff coverage. They are the teams with the highest odds to win it all, according to Westgate Las Vegas Supergroup. With all those storylines taking most of the attention, the Cubs can just play ball and take it one series at a time. No more talk of ending the curse. No more billy goats. It can finally be about who will play the better baseball.
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The Cubs thrive in big games. They always seem to rise to the challenge no matter what it is. They have already shown that they can handle being expected to win a game, or in last year’s case, a World Series. A determined Cubs team is dangerous in the postseason, this much we know. Who knows how dangerous they can be when everyone has written them off?