Chicago Cubs News: Keys to win NL Wild Card Series

The Cubs open the 2020 postseason with the up-and-coming Miami Marlins

After a wild, 60-game season, the Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central with a record of 34-26 and found themselves as the three-seed in the National League. With the expanded playoffs in effect for this season, they are set to square off against the Miami Marlins, the six-seed.

This is notably the first time these two teams have met since the infamous 2003 NLCS, one no Cubs fan wants to remember. The Marlins are the surprise team out of the NL this year, and in a three-game series, the Cubs have to come out firing to advance.

The first key in this series is Willson Contreras controlling Miami’s baserunners. The Marlins stole 51 bases this year, second in all of baseball. Contreras finished 2020 with a 35% caught stealing percentage, gunning down nine runners while allowing 17 stolen bases.

The Marlins have an advantage in this area as the Cubs have only stolen 24 bases this season. Contreras controlling the Marlins in this area will be a key for the Cubs to win this series.

Another key for them in this series is the bullpen. It was a shaky start for this group, but they have turned things around and become a respectable unit. The bullpen posted a 4.38 regular-season ERA, good for 13th in baseball.

The Marlins, on the other hand, posted a bullpen ERA of 5.67, which was 26th in baseball. A clear advantage for the Cubs here, and they need to showcase that advantage in this series to win. Rowan Wick may be down, but a Craig Kimbrel who has seemingly returned to form along with Jeremy Jeffress on the back end of this pen should be enough to hold things down.

The last key crucial in this series will be hitting with runners in scoring position. Here’s a look at some offensive stats that the Cubs and Marlins had this season:

Runs scored:

Miami: 263

Chicago: 265

OPS

Chicago: .705

Miami: .703

OBP

Miami: .319

Chicago .318

Slugging

Miami: .384

Chicago: .387

Eerily similar numbers in these areas and with that being said, we look at the averages with runners in scoring position:

Miami: .273

Chicago: .241

This is where Miami catches up to them in terms of offense. If the bats can show up when these opportunities arise, they will take away another area Miami is superior in. The offensive numbers wouldn’t be nearly as similar if they posted an equal average with runners in scoring position.

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They have a great opportunity this postseason. The Marlins are vital in a few areas, but the Cubs have all the talent to counter those and win this series. David Ross has made it known that winning is all that matters at this stage of the game, so we know he will have this team locked in a ready to go on Wednesday.