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Man, are we in for a wild ride!
The Cubs have made it to the NLCS! I never thought I would be so apprehensive about a playoff series, but alas, here we stand. The Cubs are facing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 NLCS. Doesn't this seem familiar? My hopes and dreams about this rematch are great, but my thoughts still come back to the thought of last series, and the Dodgers regular season.
Kershaw. Where to begin with him. He's a great pitcher, probably the one of the best this game has ever seen. Will he become the playoff pitcher that he can be? Truth be told, I hope not. I don't want to see him become the shutdown pitcher in the playoffs. I want to see the same chink in the armor that we saw in Game 6 last year. When you go up against a team like the Dodgers, who have a great offense, an awesome pitching staff, and a shutdown closer, you hope you can find something to give hope. Kershaw is a great pitcher, but we have beaten him before in the playoffs, let's do it again.
Quintana. We leveraged a bit of our future for a pitcher that many believe isn't as good as everyone thinks. I think he will be a great pitcher for us, and I hope to see some of that tonight. He has shown that he can pitch on the big stage against Washington, although their offense was just about as anemic as ours. He looks ready to go out and pitch his heart out, and we all should be behind him 100%, since our bullpen hasn't looked the greatest.
Wade. Why does Joe Maddon keep pitching our closers for so many outs?!? Wade is a great closer. I mean really, really good. But he isn't a 7-8 out closer. It just isn't in his approach, much like Chapman. He gets that adrenaline going in the bullpen, and comes out firing, but once he goes and sits on the bench, he doesn't seem to have it as much. He is still one hell of a pitcher, but we need to find someone to fill the gap. That being said, he did a good job at keeping the ferocious Washington lineup at bay to help us to where we are, so all's well that ends well.
CJ. Edwards Jr. has been so up and down this postseason, and this roller coaster has almost made me lose my lunch. I think he comes up big this series if given the chance, but Maddon needs to do what he did in Game 7 and pull him if the stuff's not there.
I won't get into every player, or the lineups this time, but I will say this; we need to hit. We need to pitch. We can't make the defensive mistakes we did against the Nationals. I have faith, and you should too.
Go Cubs Go!!!!
Well that certainly wasn't what we wanted...
Game one of the NLCS was....disappointing. We got a lead off of Kershaw and then watched as our hapless bullpen let it slip away. It's not all their fault, but they haven't been able to do their job this postseason. It has cost us some games, and it might cost us this series. When you go up against a great pitcher, and get the better of him, you can't let it slip away. You just can't.
It was all going well, the first inning, we got some men on base, and we got Kershaw's pitch count up. I really wish we could have scored those runs, but either way it seemed like a win. Q looked good, and was pretty sharp out there. I think he was out-pitching Kershaw, to put it simply. When we got the Almora HR, I was leaping out of my chair. THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT WE NEEDED!!!! Almora is a great player, and we need the "role-players" to perform if we want to win this series. Then comes Puig, in all his bat-flipping, infuriating, glory. But all was still okay. We looked like a team ready to burst.
Then comes the play at the plate. Schwarber lets loose this great throw, Contreras lays down a great tag, and HE'S OUT!!! What a play! Wait a minute, what are they reviewing? He definitely didn't touch the plate....Oh no. Rule 7.13A. A rule that has been used very rarely. If this game was in Chicago, that call from New York would not have been made. We would riot. But, alas, this game was in LA, and the higher ups wanted a national stage to show the world they want safe plays. I have seen people saying that Culberson would have plowed Contreras before the ball got there. My opinion is: If Rule 7.13A wasn't in the rule book, Culberson wouldn't have been so far out of the basepath, and Contreras wouldn't have had the chance to block him. That, however, wasn't the case. Contreras did "block" him with his leg, even though the catch was moving him towards that side of the plate. All of this "He didn't have a lane" crap can stop too. I've seen many players slide around the catcher who has their leg out and score, so the lane wasn't the issue. It was Culberson trying to get his arm beneath Contreras instead of around him.
If you're Maddon, you have to go get tossed for that. There's no way around it. I'm just glad that he actually brought them all in and said "You effed up" (to paraphrase). I thought, up until that call, that the umpire crew for this game was solid. Nothing too egregious. Maybe a couple pitches called that shouldn't have been (on both sides), but nothing else struck me as a terrible call. The Cubs did get a call in Game 5 that I don't think they should have (Loboaton out on the pickoff), but baseball Karma is real, and we lost that call, and ultimately the game because of it. It just deflated us like footballs in New England.
If there is any good news, it's that Lackey looked good pitching out of the bullpen. I mean, he didn't come here for a haircut. He could be our X-factor if the bullpen can't be trusted going forth. I hope that CJ, Monty and the crew can get it together, but they haven't shown their worth thus far.
On to Game 2. We've got Rich Hill and John Lackey going at it. The one thing about both of these pitchers is you don't know what kind of performance you are going to get. I know Lester is the much more accomplished pitcher, and has won big games, but he has starts that kill us sometimes. Hill pitched well against the Cubs last year in the NLCS. If we can get him to elevate that curve, we might be able to hit him well. They haven't released the lineups yet, but I expect to have almost the same lineup as yesterday, with the exception of Zobs starting and Schwarber on the bench to start out. Let's get this game won, and come back to Wrigley!
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