Chicago Cubs should not be overlooked in the NLCS
By Tim Stebbins
Do not look past the Chicago Cubs’ recent postseason success when considering their chances in the 2017 National League Championship Series.
For the third straight year, the Chicago Cubs find themselves just four wins away from a World Series berth. Unlike 2015 and 2016, though, many see the Cubs as underdogs in the National League Championship Series.
This season’s NLCS is a rematch of 2016’s, with the Cubs facing the Los Angeles Dodgers. This time around the Dodgers have home-field advantage, as they finished an MLB-best 104-58.
Teams took different paths to current matchup
The Dodgers’ success quickly carried over into the postseason; not only did they sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series, but they did so in dominant fashion. In the three games, the Dodgers outscored the Diamondbacks 20-11.
On the flip side, the Cubs finished 92-70 in the regular season. Unlike the Dodgers, the Cubs needed all five games to eliminate the Washington Nationals in the NLDS. Even more amazing is the fact that the Nationals outscored the Cubs 20-17 in the five games.
While the Cubs did not finish off the Nationals until early Friday morning, the Dodgers clinched their NLCS berth Monday. Because of this, they have had all week to line up their starting rotation and rest up for the Cubs.
Cubs on short-rest should not be counted out
Meanwhile, the Cubs used four of their starting pitchers in Games 4 and 5 of the NLDS. Furthermore, a rainout pushed Game 4 back from Tuesday to Wednesday. Because of this, both Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester had one less rest day, as both pitched in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Taking this all into consideration, the Dodgers seem to be the clear-cut favorites to win the pennant this year. However, it would be foolish to assume the Cubs are going to roll over without a fight.
Since 2015, the Cubs have trailed and ultimately won a postseason series three times. The Dodgers already lead the 2017 NLCS 1-0, but there are six games remaining in the series. Based on the Cubs track record, this should not be a huge cause for concern.
The Cubs trailed in the 2015 NLDS, 2016 NLCS and 2016 World Series. On each occasion, they clawed their way back into the series, grinding their way to victory game-in and game out. In a way, the Cubs have a knack for stepping up in big moments and delivering time and time again.
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Ultimately, the Dodgers have had a great season, postseason and already lead the Cubs in the NLCS. All in all, though, the Cubs are too strong of a team not to fight back. If past trends continue, the NLCS should be a long, entertaining series.