Well, after two separate Game 163’s on Monday, we finally have our National League matchups. With the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Milwaukee Brewers advancing to the Divisional Rounds, the Cubs and the Rockies find themselves facing elimination after leading their divisions in the last week of
The Rockies had a tumultuous final week. Having started the week out of position for a wild-card spot, they managed to pull ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West, on their way to a division crown.
The last time the Rockies won the NL West was just shy of never, making all of their appearances in the playoffs via the WildCard. Having appeared in last year’s Wild Card game opposite the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Rockies are putting their best foot forward, by putting their best arm on the hill.
Kyle Freeland is a Cy Young front-runner in any other year. What this young man has been able to do at Coors Field is herculean at the very least. Posting a 2.40 ERA at Coors Field is not easy. When Ubaldo Jimenez came in fourth for the Cy Young in 2010, he held a home field ERA of 3.19. That number was unheard of at the Mile High Ballpark.
Outside of Denver, Freeland has been good, but not nearly as dominant. Owning a 7-5 record, with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.307 WHIP, Freeland’s facing an uphill battle against a very solid Cubs offense. Can the young Rockies phenom put the Rockies into the playoffs with his arm? Only time will tell.
One of the key discrepancies between Freeland and the Cub’s batters is going to be experience. Can a pitcher who has never faced this kind of pressure stifle an offense that’s been here before?
At the dish, the Rockies boast one of the more potent lineups in the game. With names like Blackmon, Arenado, Story, LeMahieu, Parra, Desmond and Gonzalez, it’s no wonder they’ve found themselves at the top of the National League for a second year in a row.
So much can be said about how the Rockies got into this game, but let’s look at the last week of games. In their final 6 games
That’s 3 home runs a game, and just over 6.5 runs a game. If the Rockies offense can get that going in this Wild Card game, they’ll be flying high all the way to Milwaukee.
Hey Chicago, Whatta Ya Say?
If there’s going to be a difference maker in this game it’ll be Jon Lester. Plain and simple. Jon Lester has to buckle down and beat the Rockies offense. So the question is, can he do it?
It’s very possible.
The last time Jon Lester pitched in a Wild Card game he ended the season with a 2.46 ERA and came in fourth for the Cy Young. After being traded midseason by the Boston Red Sox to the Oakland Athletics, Lester continued his dominance out West, earning him the one-game playoff start.
In that game, Jon Lester pitched 7.1 innings, giving up 6 runs on 8 hits, as the A’s lost in extras to the Kansas City Royals. The following season, Lester would sign with the Chicago Cubs.
So how does he match up with the Colorado Rockies? In his career, Lester holds a 2.25 ERA against the Rockies. Over 5 career starts against the Rocky Mountain Ballclub, Lester owns a 1.063 WHIP and 11.3 K/9. Those are incredible numbers. Jon Lester just needs to tap into the energy at Wrigley and pitch his game.
The Cubs offense has to step up and play like their former selves. In the last week, the only players pulling their weight are Anthony Rizzo, Daniel Murphy, Ian Happ,
The Cubs are a team known for living and dying by the long ball, and in the week leading up to the postseason, they’ve hit… just three. That’s it. The anemic Cubs offense needs to turn the ship around fast. After making Jhoulys Chacin look like Madison Bumgarner in game 163, they need to find their magic again. They need to remember how to play baseball.
How It Ends
The Cubs had a chance to lock up the division, home field advantage, and reclaim their title as “King in the North” yesterday, but they botched Game 163. I don’t think the Cubs can recapture their magic from previous years in such a short turn around. The Brewers came to Wrigley hungry for the postseason and the Rockies are coming in hungrier than them. I don’t think the Cubs can overpower that kind of momentum.
The Rockies have the bats to beat Lester and the Cubs bullpen, but the Cubs lack the power from previous years to beat Freeland’s and the Rock Pile.
Final Score: Rockies 4, Cubs 2.
- / 12 months ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.