With the Chicago Cubs scuffling on offense down the stretch, is it possible that they might consider adding a player with one professional hit to their postseason roster? The short answer is yes.
Terrance Gore was acquired from the Kansas City Royals for one simple reason: his ability to steal bases. The 27-year-old has proved useful to the Cubs in that regard, successfully swiping five bags without being caught once.
Runs have been hard to come by for the Cubs of late. They were blanked in the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks last Thursday, and were held to just a single run – a solo homer by Cole Hamels –in the first two games of their series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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Carving out runs becomes that much more paramount in the postseason, where managers tend to go their bullpens early and engage in chess matches with the opposing clubhouse. Gore possesses the kind of speed that can alter a game… or even a series.
There is historical context for this notion. Baseball fans likely know Dave Roberts as the current manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Roberts was also a 10-year veteran of the league in his playing days. And while he certainly handled a bat more frequently than Gore (Roberts had 2,707 at-bats to Gore’s 16 at-bats), Roberts is remembered for one singular moment that kicked off the greatest comeback in MLB history.
With the Boston Red Sox already trailing the New York Yankees 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS and losing Game 4 by a score of 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, desperation abounded. But when Roberts came in to pinch-run for Kevin Millar, he managed to get legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera out of his groove.
Roberts stole second base and eventually scored the tying run on a Bill Mueller single later in the same at-bat. Roberts also played a big role in Boston’s Game 5 comeback, as a hit-and-run play led to him scoring the tying run in that game, as well. Roberts was a pivotal figure in both extra-inning victories at Fenway, which set the stage for a historical series victory by the Red Sox.
The Gore Effect
All of this is hardly to say that Gore is the ingredient that will determine the Cubs’ success this October. But on a team that included the likes of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, would anyone have expected that Roberts would be one of the defining players of that incredible series 14 years ago?
Gore has shown he can take a base on anybody. In Washington, he stole a pair of bases despite the efforts of Nationals catcher Spencer Kieboom, who arguably has one of the strongest arms in baseball from behind the dish.
The Cubs took this approach last year, including outfielder Leonys Martin on their postseason roster primarily as a pinch-runner. The year before, Chris Coghlan played this same role in the 2016 World Series. Neither come close to matching the speed of Gore.
Of course, Gore’s addition would likely mean that the Cubs would have to leave off either an additional reliever, or possibly David Bote or Ian Happ. But given the sort of transformative impact Gore can have on any game just as a pinch-runner, Chicago needs to find a spot for him on their postseason roster.