Postseason Series Preview: Miami Marlins (31-29) at Chicago Cubs (34-26)

In Series Previews by berselius163 Comments

Shockingly, MLB managed to make it to the end of the season without things falling all the way apart, though it looked like a close one for a while. As a reminder, this first round of the playoffs is a three-game series at the home park of the higher seeded team, before things move to a neutral site/bubble for the rest of the tournament. For the NL, this will mean that advancing teams head to Texas. Since the Cubs won the division, they thankfully are on the opposite side of the bracket as the Los Angeles Juggernaught Dodgers.

The Cubs draw the surprising Marlins in the first round, who went from 100+ losses last year to the playoffs. Luckily andcounting did my research for me on their season this year, which I will lazily quote below:

Pythagorean standings are pretty much likewise rendered useless by the absence of divisional overlap, but the basic results show that the Marlins were the luckiest team in baseball. They were 5 games above what you’d expect by their run differential. So that’s mildly encouraging as much as it pertains to a 3-game crapshoot.

Here’s the usual breakdown:

Team Leaders

Marlins

  • OBP: Miguel Rojas (.392)
  • ISO: Garrett Cooper (.217)
  • HR: Brian Anderson (11)
  • R+RBI: Anderson / Jesus Aguilar (65)
  • wRC+: Rojas (142)
  • BSR: Jon Berti (2.3)
  • Defense: Rojas (5.3)
  • SP K/9: Trevor Rogers (12.54)
  • SP BB/9: Elieser Hernandes (1.75)
  • SP ERA: Sandy Alcantara (3.00)
  • RP K/9: James Hoyt (12.27)
  • RP BB/9: Nick Neidert (2.16)
  • RP ERA: Yimi Garcia (0.60)
  • WAR: Rojas (1.6)

Cubs

  • OBP: Heyward (.392)
  • ISO: Happ (.247)
  • HR: Happ (12)
  • R+RBI: Contreras (63)
  • wRC+: Happ (131)
  • BSR: Heyward (1.9)
  • Defense: Contreras (4.6)
  • SP K/9: Darvish (11.01)
  • SP BB/9: Cyle (0.89)
  • SP ERA: Darvish (2.01)
  • RP K/9: Kimbrel (16.43)
  • RP BB/9: Rea (0.00)
  • RP ERA: Jeffress (1.53)
  • WAR: Darvish (3.0)

Injuries, etc.

The Marlins have a couple of guys in the hospital wing. Cubs punching bag Jose Urena broke his arm on Sunday and is out for the playoffs. Cubs nemesis Francisco Cervelli is also done for the year. SP Elieser Hernandez is out for the rest of the year with a lat injury, and CF Starling Marte is day to day after taking a pitch to the head a few days back.

We all know more or less where things are on the Cubs side. The only thing I missed was Ildemaro Vargas (who?) hitting the IL with a hamstring injury last week. The bigger question marks are how Quintana and and Chafin are going to look coming back from their recent IL stints – so far they’ve looked good. Happ has also been dealing with a nagging ankle injury, so hopefully these days off have helped him get back to 100%.

Pitching Matchups

2020 K/9, BB/9, ERA, projected ERA listed for all starters

Wednesday: Sandy Alcantara, RHP (8.36, 3.21, 3.00, 4.50) vs Cyle Hendricks, RHP (7.08, 0.89, 2.88, 3.71), 1:08 PM CT

Alcantara is a ground ball machine, which might make things tough on the Cubs already-struggling right handers like Bryant and Baez. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few lineup changes in this one, including possible a Billy Hamilton appearance? Somehow though I think that Ross is going to go with the guys who (were supposed to have) got them here.

He also throws really hard – a 97 MPH fastball and an absurd 96 MPH sinker according to Fangraphs pitch type info. He also throws an occasional slider or change but they aren’t his best pitches by a long shot. The Cubs are great fastball hitters, but are also great GIDP hitters, so we could be in for a long night.

I don’t think any of us need any info on Cyle (dying laughing). You may have heard that he’s had a few pretty good starts in the playoffs. His peripherals look as good or better than the past few seasons.

Thursday: Sixto Sanchez, RHP (7.62, 2.54, 3.46, 4.38) vs Yu Darvish, RHP (11.01, 1.66, 2.01, 3.63), 1:08 PM CT

Darvish has a legit shot at winning the Cy Young this year, and is probably my favorite player on the team right now. He’s certainly done enough and then some to erase the rocky introduction that he had with the team following his signing, and I look forward to many more years with this character.

Sanchez is a rookie, and what do you know, he’s another hard throwing, worm killing machine. His best pitch is a change up, so I wouldn’t expect big games from Javy or Bryant. It’s too bad that he’s not matched up with Hendricks – Sanchez’s change up is the same speed as Cyle’s fastball (dying laughing). Let’s hope that the long Cubs tradition of being baffled by rookies that they haven’t seen before doesn’t hold up in this one. At least they’ll have Darvish on the other side.

Friday: Pablo Lopez, RHP (9.26, 2.83, 3.61) vs Jon Lester?, LHP (6.20, 2.51, 5.16, 4.34), 1:08 PM CT

What do you know, the Marlins are throwing yet another sinkerballer against the Cubs. It’s like there’s a book on this team. Lopez doesn’t throw quite as hard as the other guys but might have the best sinker of the three. Hopefully this game won’t be necessary.

The Cubs haven’t announced a starter for Game 3, but I’m guessing that it’s going to be Lester once through the order combined with Alzolay and Quintana, depending on how much they are used in game 1 and 2. I was about to say that Lester pitched a little better in the final year of his contract than I might have predicted when it was signed, but woof his numbers are worse than I thought. He isn’t walking anyone at least, just getting hit super hard. He’ll probably get the nod for sentimental reasons, but I also don’t think that there’s that big of a gap between starting him and, say, Alzolay or Mills. No-hitter notwithstanding (dying laughing)

Random parting shots

This series is going to come down to whether the Cubs hot and cold offense gets hot. I’m not too worried about the pitching, beyond the possibility of Lester being left in for too many batters. Even the bullpen is….kinda ok? Kimbrel’s been good for a solid month, and I heard somewhere that the Cubs had the best bullpen in the month of September, though that was before the mess in garbage time in the finale.

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Comments

  1. Author
    berselius

    Wow, the Brewers are being forced to throw Brent Suter, who I don’t think has even started a game this year, against the Dodgers in game 1.

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  2. Author
    berselius

    To-day’s base ball squadron

    CF Happ
    1B Rizzo
    3B Bryant
    LF War Bear
    C Contreras
    RF Heyward
    SS Baez
    DH Caratini
    2B Kipnis

    P Cyle

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  3. Author
    berselius

    berselius:
    Wow, the Brewers are being forced to throw Brent Suter, who I don’t think has even started a game this year, against the Dodgers in game 1.

    Oh wow, reliever Devin Williams is also out with shoulder soreness now.

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  4. Author
    berselius

    To-day’s base ball squadron

    CF Happ
    1B Rizzo
    DH Contreras
    LF War Bear
    3B Bryant
    RF Heyward
    SS Baez
    2B Bote
    C Caratini

    P Darvish

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  5. andcounting

    I’m pretty stubborn in my attachment to players’ former glory, so it’s really difficult to comprehend how this lineup could be less than formidable.

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  6. Author
    berselius

    The last postseason rain delay worked out for the Cubs, maybe Jason Heyward can give another rallying speech (dying laughing).

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  7. Author
    berselius

    andcounting,

    I guess it’s a good forecast and there are more off days to play with before the next round, so they don’t really see a reason not to be cautious. They’ll also probably get better tv ratings since more teams will be eliminated (dying laughing).

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  8. BVS

    Work is pissing me off today, so I decided to go back and read all the comments on OV since I last commented, which was about comment 79/219 on the last thread.

    The last 10 minutes will probably orove to be the most productive part of my day, aside from driving kid to swim practice .

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  9. andcounting

    berselius,

    I’d say I can’t imagine watching my favorite team play 22 postseason innings without scoring a single run, but…I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit.

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  10. dmick89

    andcounting,

    I gotta admit, every time I turn the Cubs on it feels like they’ve gone a couple hundred innings without scoring a run. The offense is ridiculously bad. I’ve talked about a lot of bad Cubs teams over the years, but this offense is a fucking joke. The worst thing is that the offense should at least be competitive. It’s not. It’s horrible. Kris Bryant is banged up every other day and has warning track power these days. Javy swings at every single pitch as hard as he possibly can. Happ and Heyward have been the best this team has and that’s scary. If they score a run I feel like they’ve accomplished the impossible.

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  11. andcounting

    dmick89,

    I feel the same way mostly, though I find myself making excuses for them all the time. Like I am sure offense is down leaguewide but I really don’t want to look it up to see if it’s true. (dying laughing)

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  12. andcounting

    I don’t like the Cubs’ chances beyond this (probably 2-game) series, but I hope there’s at least a Saturday game. I’m not ready for baseball I sort of like to watch to end at 62 games. Ugh.

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  13. Author
    berselius

    berselius:
    To-day’s base ball squadron

    CF Happ
    1B Rizzo
    DH Contreras
    LF War Bear
    3B Bryant
    RF Heyward
    SS Baez
    2B Bote
    C Caratini

    P Darvish

    Also to-day’s squadron

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  14. andcounting

    dmick89,

    This certainly helps me arrive at a conclusion about which divisions are good. The 7 teams in the central divisions went 2-14 and were shutout 5 times. They scored more than 2 runs 6 times.

    The teams the Cubs played this year were all bad. The Cubs were bad. It’s going to be a long time before the Cubs are good again.

    I may just watch the 2015 and 2016 seasons for the next few years.

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  15. dmick89

    andcounting: It’s going to be a long time before the Cubs are good again.

    Yeah and I have much less patience than I did last time the Cubs sucked. I don’t know if it’s because the Cubs were good for a stretch or I’m just older and don’t feel like wasting my time watching shit. I think it’s probably a combination of both. I know I give up on tv shows a lot sooner than I used to. I also think I’ve been pretty frustrated with this team since 2017 and they were really good that season. So it’s been awhile since I’ve been fully invested in this team.

    Making it more difficult to root for this team is the owners. I’m struggling with supporting a team that’s owned by people who support fascism. I had planned to shop around for a new favorite team during spring training, but never bothered because I knew coronavirus was going to shut everything down. There’s a good chance this was my last year rooting for the Cubs. Not too surprised they were a shitty team. I am surprised they got lucky enough to reach the postseason and then went out in about the only way this franchise knows how.

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  16. andcounting

    dmick89,

    When I first started hearing OAN commercials on the radio broadcast I thought it might be the end right there, but they stopped. Even if the baseball team really were good, it tempers the allegiance to have the Ricketts family baggage. But I’m really not a principled enough person to dump the team if they’re good (dying laughing).

    It’s a moot point, though. They’re not. And I know what kills my enthusiasm more than anything is having seen how good they were day in and day out for 2015–2016. I’ve never watched a team that good that consistently. Honestly, I didn’t know what it was like to be an everyday fan of a really great team. I mean, I was a fan in ‘84, and that team was great, but I was 9. What did I know?

    For the past few years I could imagine the team was better than it looked because so many of the parts were the same. But Rizzo’s older, Bryant is broken, and there don’t appear to be any future peaks to which the rest of the players have yet to ascend.

    Now that I know what great baseball looks like, it’s just too hard to pretend I can expect to see it again.

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  17. Perkins

    In retrospect, this whole thing started to go sideways when they replaced John Mallee with Chili Davis.

    To me, the most disappointing thing is how exciting this team looked in 2015-16, and even in 17 they were very good and you could reasonably attribute much of their decline to the World Series hangover. The past three years have been like the post-1970s Rolling Stones, where you know the talent is still there, but it’s not nearly as fresh or impactful.

    Some of that is the inability to keep key players like Bryant healthy, but the vaunted pipeline of talent dried up entirely after 2017. Ian Happ was the last impact player to graduate, and he’s obviously had some issues. The organization’s failure to develop a single pitching prospect in ten years (I’m not counting Hendricks, since he came from TEX) has been remarkable, and has limited their options. How Jason McLeod still has a job is a mystery to me.

    The first few weeks of this season, it looked like the offense had succeeded in fixing the issues that had plagued it over the past few years. I’m not sure what caused basically all the players to revert to their bad habits, but at this point it seems like turning over part of the roster is the only solution. Shame that everyone’s trade value is nonexistent.

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  18. dmick89

    Perkins: How Jason McLeod still has a job is a mystery to me.

    I also think there’s a decent chance the man is promoted to GM this offseason with Jed taking over Theo’s job and Theo going on his way.

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  19. Author
    berselius

    Perkins: How Jason McLeod still has a job is a mystery to me.

    Remember when we were all surprised that some other team hadn’t poached him? I guess MLB teams get things right every once in a while (dying laughing).

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  20. Perkins

    dmick89: I also think there’s a decent chance the man is promoted to GM this offseason with Jed taking over Theo’s job and Theo going on his way.

    That’s certainly possible. I had interpreted his removal from the player development role as an acknowledgement that he had failed there, while still keeping the band together and not having him lose too much face.

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  21. Rizzo the Rat

    Adam Wainwright confirms the Cardinals are dumb.

    "I had to battle half my team thinking the Earth is flat this year. And they think we've never been to the moon and all kinds of crazy stuff. I've got a bunch of Flat Earthers… Paul DeJong, smartest guy on the team, is a Flat Earther. " – Adam Wainwright

    — Foolish Baseball (@FoolishBB) October 8, 2020

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  22. andcounting

    It’s really freaking difficult not to like Dusty Baker. Dude made some in-game mistakes and cost some pitchers their careers by being old school, but the guy knows how to manage a baseball team.

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  23. Author
    berselius

    Not sure if the NFL season is going to last two more weeks at this point (dying laughing). Against all odds they manage to make even MLB look responsible in its handling of Covid.

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  24. EnricoPallazzo

    I am finding it increasingly likely that bryant will be granted free agency at the end of next season. He will sign with another team and the cubs will receive exactly nothing. This is such a disgusting proposition when you think about what he could have netted the team if traded in (e.g.) 2018. Could this have been avoided? Yes of course in hindsight. SHOULD it have been avoided? I really don’t know. I don’t want to excuse the FO but there were always some extenuating circumstances that made it seem logical to hang on to bryant for just a bit longer. In hindsight, those reasons were dumb as fuck but I can’t decide if I should really be faulting the FO. I probably should be.

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  25. dmick89

    EnricoPallazzo,

    I thought KB was a free agent after this season so I’m just mildly relieved the Cubs will have someone who has a semi-decent chance of putting together an average to above average season at 3rd base next year.

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  26. Author
    berselius

    EnricoPallazzo,

    Tbh, I have no problem with the Cubs keeping Bryant around. If nothing else Bryzzo is the thing I remember most from the WS season, and I’m a lot more sentimental than I was before the Cubs actually won anything.

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  27. EnricoPallazzo

    andcounting: When do you suppose was the last time he could’ve passed a physical as part of a trade

    yeah great question and this is one of the “extenuating circumstances” that I mentioned. no idea but wasn’t he healthy-ish around the time the got kimbrel? I remember thinking at the time that it would make way more sense to trade kb instead of adding kimbrel but I don’t actually recall if kb was healthy enough to trade (and am too lazy to look it up).

    berselius: Tbh, I have no problem with the Cubs keeping Bryant around

    no this is my point…I don’t necessarily have a problem with it either. in hindsight, it is easy to say that they could have done x, y, or z, but there were enough extenuating circumstances over the past few years where it was like “ok they should probably trade him, but they are contending. or he is hurt. or he is healthy but coming off an injury so he needs to prove his worth to inflate his trade value.” or any number of other reasons.

    it just sucks that he will (likely) leave soon and net the cubs exactly jack shit at a time when their farm system is in desperate need of replenishing.

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  28. andcounting

    EnricoPallazzo: I remember thinking at the time that it would make way more sense to trade kb instead of adding kimbrel but I don’t actually recall if kb was healthy enough to trade (and am too lazy to look it up).

    Yeah, it’s one of those situations when we can’t be certain how healthy he’s ever been for the last few seasons. I don’t think the Cubs actually know, necessarily. The current scenario feels like the worst case, but I imagine the true nightmare scenario would have been to pull off a big trade and have it crumble after an MRI or something.

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  29. Author
    berselius

    SK:
    When OV replaced you we thought we seen the last of ACB – congratulations to Another Cubs Blog on its SCOTUS nomination.

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  30. Author
    berselius

    berselius:
    Not sure if the NFL season is going to last two more weeks at this point (dying laughing). Against all odds they manage to make even MLB look responsible in its handling of Covid.

    College football of course vaults to the top, as the Florida coach demanded a full capacity crowd for this weekend’s game only to see it canceled due to a covid outbreak on his team (dying laughing).

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  31. uncle dave

    berselius,

    Funny, I would never have suspected that college football coaches would somehow wind up looking like the biggest dildos in the world through all of this.

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  32. Rizzo the Rat

    Congratulations to @Cubs pitcher @faridyu, who met with Consul-General Okada and received the “Consul-General’s Commendation” as the first Japanese pitcher to lead the MLB in wins. We're delighted that he represents Japanese people here in the US, and are proud of his efforts! pic.twitter.com/zNkdhukeYn

    — Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago (@JpnCons_Chicago) October 16, 2020

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  33. Author
    berselius

    I just accidentally mistook Matt Nagy for Adam Gase in a conversation with one of my Bears fan coworkers (dying laughing).

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