Chicago Cubs look for another winner take all victory

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: kyle Hendricks
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: kyle Hendricks /

The Chicago Cubs have been here before. It’s not an unusual position for them. And the Washington Nationals? They’ve experienced heartbreak at home in a clinching game before. Who will win out this time?

When looking at the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals, this is a spot that both of these teams have been in before. And in my opinion, the pressure lies on the Nationals side and not the Cubs. That’s not to say that the Cubs aren’t feeling any pressure at all. But the Nats are trying to avoid another Game 5 loss in the NLDS. Potentially, it could be their third in the last five years. The Cubs? Overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. The Cubs give me more faith than the Nats–but the Cubs hadn’t won in 108 years, so you never can tell.

The one thing that’s been consistent for the Cubs has been the starting pitching. Kyle Hendricks pitched seven innings of shutout baseball in Game 1. Jon Lester allowed just one run in six innings. Jose Quintana had 5 2/3 innings pitched with only one run allowed (0 earned), and Jake Arrieta didn’t have his best stuff, but it was an unearned run that he allowed as well. This rotation has answered the call.

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The bullpen, however, has been a mixed bag. Carl Edwards has had one good outing and two bad. Wade Davis came into Game 4 in a non-save situation and allowed the grand slam to Michael Taylor. But even with the inconsistencies out of the bullpen, it’s been the offense that has left Cubs’ fans scratching their heads.

The Cubs are batting just .159 in the series, with two home runs and eight runs knocked in. But the most discouraging fact has been the 43 strikeouts in four games. They won’t see Stephen Strasburg tonight, but Max Scherzer could make an appearance. The barebones fact of tonight’s game is that the Cubs need to hit. Period.

Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for the Nats, and there’s not a lot of success on the Cubs side that offers much positivity. Jon Jay is batting .374 in just 11 at-bats. For the Nats against Hendricks? It’s of course, Bryce Harper. He sports a .308 average in 13 at-bats against him with a solo home run. But for as good as Gonzalez has been this season, he’s yet to pitch beyond the fifth in any of his career playoff starts. Tonight is unlikely to be that first one.

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The good thing is that I’m comfortable with whatever happens tonight. I believe this team is going to prevail, I do. Last year’s World Series gave me some peace. Now, do I want to see them keep going? Of course. I’d prefer to see the Cubs get the chance to show Dave Roberts‘ team who’s the better club, but we’ll have to wait until after tonight to see if that will be the case.

Let’s Go Cubs! #FlyTheW