The Chicago Cubs have clinched a playoff berth for the fifth time in six seasons. Their seeding remains to be seen, as does their opponent.
The Chicago Cubs hold a 2 1/2 game lead in the Central Division with three games to play over the weekend. The Cardinals have five games to play, and maybe two more with a potential doubleheader Monday. Going into Thursday’s games, they were slated to play the Miami Marlins in the Wild Card round.
With how volatile the offense has been, that’s either a great matchup or it’s the worst possible matchup because Sixto Sanchez and Sandy Alcantara are quite good. Last week we let you know about all of the potential first-round matchups.
The most favorable matchup for the team, however, is likely against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are currently the eighth seed as the 2nd Wild Card with a .500 record. The Cubs are now the third seed.
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The Giants are favorable for the Cubs because they don’t hit many home runs, and they don’t walk a lot. The Cubs’ pitchers love to pitch to contact and throw strikes. If the opponent is up there hacking, that works better for the pitching approach, especially when it’s projected to be Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish pitching the first two games of the Wild Card round. If those games are at Wrigley, that plays into the Cubs’ hands even more.
The Giants aren’t too keen on the pitching side of things, either, carrying a team ERA of 4.66. It’s no secret the offense struggles to hit, but Giants’ pitchers walk more hitters than the Giants’ hitters walk. San Francisco pitching is walking 9.6 percent of hitters, and their offense is only walking 8.6 percent of the time.
As for the Marlins, their pitchers induce many groundballs, and the Cubs have one of the highest groundball rates in baseball. Sanchez and Alcantara, in particular, Sanchez at a 58 percent groundball rate and Alcantara with a 49 percent groundball rate. If they draw the Marlins and face those pitchers, it could be a death sentence for this offense. The Marlins offensively have a team wRC+ of 97, and the Giants are at 110, but the offensive profile of the Giants fits the Cubs’ and their pitching better.
The first order of business is to finish off the division. They currently sit at 32-25, heading into the final three games of the season against their Crosstown friends, the Chicago White Sox.
They only need to win one game out of the three to feel safe about the division. The Sox have clinched a playoff berth and are one game back in the AL Central. There is a lot at stake this weekend as both teams have a chance to win their division, the Cubs for the first time since 2017, the Sox the first time since 2008.