The Cubs steamrolled the Reds last night with the help of a bunch of great individual performances.
Let’s see, who to start with?
How about Jon Lester: He went 8 strong innings, giving up only one run and three hits. His nine strikeouts gave him 207 on the year — a Cubs record for a left-handed pitcher. I think it’s safe to say you can chalk up Lester’s first year with the Cubs as a success.
Let’s hope we see him pitch again this year, as that would most likely mean the Cubs have advanced past the Wild Card playoff.
Austin Jackson had his best game as a Cub last night. He was 3-for-5 with two doubles and five knocked in.
As good as those performances were, Starlin Castro stole the show. In the field, he made this great play:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 1, 2015
He led off the next inning with his 11th home run of the year. Castro finished the game 4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
Perhaps one of the biggest lineup questions facing the Cubs for next Wednesday’s Wild Card playoff is who will start at second base. Castro? Javier Baez? Tommy La Stella?
I think after the month Castro has had, you have to give him the nod at second. It’s pretty fun, though, how many options are available.
Playoff picture becoming clearer
The Cardinals defeated the Pirates last night in Game 2 of a double-header, clinching the NL Central. This means the Cubs will officially be playing the Pirates in the Wild Card game.
Now we see how things unfold: Will the game be in Chicago or Pittsburgh? The Cubs now trail the Pirates by 2.5 games.
If the Cubs are going to win home-field advantage, they’ll need some help from the Reds, whom the Pirates finish up the season with in a three-game series. Seeing how bad the Reds are at the moment, I’m not too confident in their chances.
The Cubs finish the season up with one more against the Reds and then a three-game series in Milwaukee. All certainly winnable games.
* Apparently that rumored Wild Card viewing at Wrigley Field has been put on hold. Cubs reporters received a statement from the Cubs: “After much consideration regarding the logistics and time required to successfully execute an exceptional guest experience while actively preparing for potential postseason play at home, we have decided to put this plan on hold. Given the excitement we have seen from Cubs fans this season, we know our fans will find a great place to watch the game and cheer on our team.” Too bad, as that probably would have been a fun event for fans. I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it — I expect next Wednesday’s game to involve a lot of nervous pacing on my end.
* Addison Russell will be the youngest shortstop to start a playoff game since Edgar Renteria in 1997. FanGraphs’ Craig Edwards takes a look at the influx of young talent with the position currently, including Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Xander Bogaerts. Although Russell hasn’t been as good at the plate as those others, he is certainly holding his own and has improved in the second half of the season. The article specifically links Russell to Bogaerts, who struggled last year after being called up to the Red Sox but is having a nice 2015. It’s crazy how good the young shortstop talent has become so quickly. And this all isn’t even taking into consideration the Dodgers’ Corey Seager, who has burst onto the scene and played well. I’m glad the Cubs have their own potential-star shortstop.
* In the 9th inning of last night’s game, Javier Baez shifted over to first base for the first time all year. He has now played all of the positions around the infield. You have to love the versatility of this team. It’s clear Joe Maddon does.