The Cubs won’t know their opponent for the NLDS until the conclusion of Wednesday night’s Wild Card matchup between the Mets and Giants in New York, but Jake Arrieta isn’t concerned one way or the other.
“Who gives a s—?” the starter quipped bluntly. “Who cares? Now the fun starts.”
In case you’re bad at crossword puzzles, the word Arrieta used is a synonym for excrement and it rhymes with flit. I admire ol’ dude’s bravado, but it’s not a sentiment I can share wholeheartedly. Whether it’s as a die-hard fan or a decidedly marginal analyst, I think the Cubs’ opponent makes a big difference. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself over the last few weeks.
First things first, I’m very much looking forward to seeing Thor and MadBum facing off in primetime with their respective seasons on the line. The win-or-go-home immediacy of the Wild Card is awesome when your team isn’t one of the participants, so I plan to enjoy the heck out of the game with a beer or two as I guest on a couple different podcasts. Fair warning, I may be distracted while discussing the Cubs game to follow.
I’m far from an expert on either of the teams the Cubs could be facing come Friday, which is why I’ve enlisted the help of Mike Gianella and Michael Saltzman to help me out. They’ll be providing some insight into why the Cubs should and shouldn’t be afraid of the Mets and Giants, respectively, and I’ll be running their thoughts a prior to the Wild Card game.
As for my quick-hit analysis, I have to say the Giants seem like the much more formidable team. One need look no further than the rotation of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija to see that they can stack up pretty favorably with the Cubs. The Mets, on the other hand, will be rolling with Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon, and Seth Lugo as their top three. Not quite as sexy as a group that boasted Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz earlier in the season.
Both teams hold identical 87-75 records, though I think we all know those have now been thrown out. The Giants had a run differential of +84 and the Mets were at +54, both a far cry from the Cubs’ +252. Again, that can be chucked in the trash. Still, you can’t really discount the fact that the Giants (715) were 9th in the NL in runs scored, with the Mets (671) were tied with the Reds for 11th.
Then you’ve got the whole even-year mess that says the Giants are due for another title. And why not throw in the black cat at Shea and last year’s NLCS sweep when discussing the Mets’ chances against the Cubs? Seems to me it’s time to put both some urban legends and demons both old and new to bed.
In case you were wondering, MLB is supposed to be releasing the start times of games 1 and 2 of the NLDS on Monday, though game 3 won’t be released until after the opponent is set. Since the first two will be in Chicago either way, the matchup is irrelevant. There’s a full slate of games Friday, so I’d expect the Cubs to fill the primetime slot, maybe 7 or 8pm EST. Saturday is just the two NL games, but I’d again assume that the Cubs will take the more coveted of the two.
If you’re not in Chicago and are looking for a place to watch the games with fellow Cubs fans, check out this list of bars. And if you happen to be in Central IN and want to join me for Game 1, I’ll be trying to raise money for charity by raffling off some Cubs Insider gear. Location is TBD, but it’s down to the Sun King tap room in Fishers or Dave & Buster’s in Castleton. I plan to hold other events throughout the postseason, so stay tuned for that.
And if you want to head to Wrigley, there are still tickets for under $200, some of which are actually in the 200 level. Most are in the 500’s or SRO, but you get a 5% discount with code CUBSINSIDER over at TicketLodge.com.[poll id=”11″]