Chicago Cubs: NLDS Preview Game 1, Cubs battle Nationals
The Chicago Cubs meet the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the NLDS Friday night. Kyle Hendricks will make the start against Stephen Strasburg.
Well, it’s here. The Chicago Cubs are set to defend their title at the Nation’s Capital Friday night as they go up against Dusty Baker and the Washington Nationals.
Starter Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA) has not been in the league long but has made seven postseason starts the last two seasons.
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In 2016 he was 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA, of course, lasting 7.1 innings against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, limiting the Dodgers to two hits, no runs, and no walks in the Cubs’ clincher.
Hendricks had a shaky start to the 2017 regular season and missed over a month on the DL due to tendinitis in his Right hand.
Since coming off the DL July 29, Hendricks pitched closer to his 2016 form and posted a league-best 2.19 ERA.
Noted for his cool and calm demeanor, the moment never seems too big for the one they call The Professor. In his only start against the Nationals this season, Hendricks went 7.0 innings, allowing three runs, walking two, and striking out five. When he made that start, it was just his third outing off the DL.
Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52 ERA) has already been in the league spanning eight seasons, but Friday night will be the biggest start of his career.
Set to make just his second career postseason start, and first, since 2014 against the Giants, Strasburg will be counted on as Max Scherzer is unable to go due to hamstring discomfort.
Strasburg faced the Cubs June 28, going 7.0 innings, and picked up the win. He struck out 13, walked one, and allowed three runs, two earned. In 10 second half starts, Strasburg had a 0.78 ERA with 76 strikeouts over 62 2/3 IP.
In the second half of the season, the Cubs’ offense was among the best in many categories.
They led MLB in RBI and OBP. They were second in walks. In the NL they were second in BA, SLG, and OPS.
For the season, the Nationals were the best in the league for RBI, OBP, and SLG. Washington also features three of the top 15 batters in the league in terms of batting average. Daniel Murphy is second in the league (.322).
Cubs’ fans will remember Murphy hitting four home runs in the 2015 NLCS, and hitting .529 for the series. In 19 career postseason games the previous two years, Murphy enters as a .351 hitter with seven home runs, and 17 RBI.
Bryce Harper rebounded in a big way following a — for him — subpar 2016 campaign. This season he raised his average 76 points, hitting .319 with 29 home runs and 87 RBI. Harper was limited the final stretch of the season after suffering a knee injury in mid-August.
He resumed to action Sep. 26, playing in five of the teams’ final six games, going 3-for-18. Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber will make his first start against Strasburg.
The Nationals won the season series against the Cubs 4-3. Starting in D.C. back in June, the Cubs wound up splitting things after a walk-off in the ninth inning off then-closer Blake Treinen June 29.
On June 26, Eddie Butler and Gio Gonzalez had a nice duel in the mound. The Cubs added three runs in the ninth before Washington added four, and nearly completed the comeback.
Of course, we remember Miguel Montero blew up following a game in which speedster Trea Turner ran wild to the tune of four stolen bases. In the series finale back in August, the Cubs’ bullpen faulted late, as the Nats scored five in the eighth.
Jun 26 @ WSH W 5-4
Jun 27 @ WSH L 6-1
June 28 @ WSH L 8-4
Jun 29 @ WSH W 5-4
Aug 4 vs WSH L 4-2
Aug 5 vs WSH W 7-4
Aug 6 vs WSH L 9-4
Next: John Lackey makes NLDS roster, Hector Rondon does not
The Cubs and Nationals will play Game 2 of the NLDS Saturday afternoon.
For the Cubs, Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) will make his 20th career postseason start. The Nationals have yet to officially name Game 2 starter. It is expected Gio Gonzalez will make the start.
First pitch from Nationals Park is at 4:30 pm C.T.