Here it is, folks. The day we’ve been waiting for.
The biggest game of the 2015 season so far for the Cubs: the winner-take-all one-game Wild Card playoff. It’s like 1998, but without Gary Gaetti.
Other than the starting pitchers (Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole), rosters and lineups haven’t been announced yet. And with Joe Maddon at the helm, nothing is set in stone for the Cubs.
Last Friday — Jake Arrieta’s most recent start — the Cubs featured the following lineup:
1. Dexter Fowler (CF)
2. Kyle Schwarber (RF)
3. Kris Bryant (LF)
4. Anthony Rizzo (1B)
5. Starlin Castro (2B)
6. Miguel Montero (C)
7. Addison Russell (SS)
8. Jake Arrieta (P)
9. Tommy La Stella (3B)
The first notable piece of this lineup was Schwarber in right field, as it was his first start out there. The next thing that stands out: Kris Bryant out in left field, with Tommy La Stella playing third.
Many people think this will be the lineup Joe Maddon runs out there tonight and I do believe there’s a good chance we see Schwarber in right field. It’s an easier to position to play in PNC Park, and we saw him in right quite a bit over the final week of the season.
As for second base, I would be shocked if Castro isn’t in there after being one of the hottest hitters in the game in September. Javier Baez will be ready for a late-inning defensive replacement, but I don’t see him starting.
Now, will we see La Stella at third? Or will Maddon go with Chris Coghlan in the outfield, with Bryant back at his more comfortable position of third base? We’ll have to wait and see. La Stella was taking grounders yesterday and got in some extra work after the team finished its workout, according to Jesse Rogers.
If it were up to me, I’d probably go with Coghlan as the starter, with La Stella coming off the bench. But it’s not up to me — and that’s probably a good thing.
When it comes down to it, however, I won’t be surprised with whatever Joe Maddon decides.
Rest of the roster
Just for argument’s sake, let’s assume the Cubs go with the starting nine from last Friday. Who else will be on the roster?
Here’s my guess.
So I’m going with 16 position players and nine pitchers. Lester is there for emergency only — like if Jake Arrieta suffers a 1st-inning injury.
It’s possible Maddon decides to go with an extra pitcher instead of someone like Szczur. In that case, we could see LHP Zac Rosscup or maybe RHP Carl Edwards Jr.
Thankfully, we won’t have to wait much longer to hear the final Wild Card roster.
Astros win AL Wild Card
OF Colby Rasmus and OF Carlos Gomez hit early solo home runs off Masahiro Tanaka to help propel the Astros over the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game.
Houston’s Dallas Keuchel was excellent, pitching 6 scoreless innings and striking out seven. It never felt like the Yankees were ever really in the game at any point.
The Astros will now take on last year’s AL champs, the Kansas City Royals. Should be a fun series.
* ICMI: Here are some awesome videos that capture the magic of the 2015 Cubs.