Tag Archives: NLCS

3rd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Chicago Cubs

Our next NL Central team in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2017 season is the Chicago Cubs, who  won the division last season en route to a World Series title

No matter what the Cubs do this year, it’ll pale in comparison to 2016 when the team finally ended its curse and won the World Series for the first time since 1908 after winning 103 games during the regular season. As they look to repeat as champs, the Cubs have the core of their team returning, including reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant at third base, 1B Anthony Rizzo and World Series MVP Ben Zobrist at second base. The team should get a boost with the return of OF Kyle Schwarber, who only had a few at-bats during the regular season but came up big in the World Series after returning from a season-long injury. SP Jon Lester leads the rotation that also includes SPs Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta. They added RP Wade Davis to the bullpen, acquiring him in a trade for OF Jorge Soler, to close out games. Their most significant losses on offense are OF Dexter Fowler, who signed with the Cardinals as a free agent, and C David Ross, who retired following the season.

Despite winning over 100 games last season, the Cubs offense was just average with a .256 batting average and their 199 home runs ranked 13th in Major League Baseball, but their .772 OPS was third-best in the majors. Bryant led the offense with a .292 average, 39 home runs and a .939 OPS. Bryant’s 7.7 WAR was best in the NL and placed him third in the majors. Rizzo also hit .292 to go along with 32 home runs and a .928 OPS; his 5.7 WAR ranked 10th in the NL. SS Addison Russell hit 21 home runs but had just a .238 average while Zobrist hit .272 with 18 home runs. OF Jason Heyward didn’t perform well in his first year with the team, hitting .230 with just 7 home runs, down from .293 and 13 homers in his final year with the Cardinals in 2015.

Pitching is where the Cubs excelled last season, with a MLB-leading 3.15 ERA and 1,441 strikeouts, which was the third-highest total in the league. The bullpen, however, had only 38 saves — fewer than six closers — putting them near the bottom of the league in that category. Lester had the best overall season on the staff, going 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 202.2 inning spread out over 32 starts. Hendricks, however, bested Lester with a 2.13 ERA in 30 starts. He threw 190 innings, striking out 170. In the follow-up to his 2015 Cy Young-winning season, Arrieta took a step backwards but still pitched well; he went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 197.1 innings in 31 starts. RP Hector Rondon made 54 appearances, posting a 3.53 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 51 innings and earned 18 saves before giving way to trade acquisition Aroldis Chapman in the second half of the season. With the Royals last year, Davis pitched in 45 games, saving 27 of them. He put up a 1.87 ERA and had 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings.

The Cubs look to have another dominant season, with 100 wins not out of the question once again. Adding Schwarber will boost the offense and add to the team’s home-run total while Davis provides a solid backend option in the bullpen with a track record of success as a closer. Hendricks can probably be expected to regress a bit as it would be hard to repeat his performance from last year. Lester’s ERA will probably go up some, as well, as he enters his 33-year-old season. But if the team can get some production from the back of the rotation, as they did out of SP John Lackey last year, the Cubs could have some of the best starting pitching in the majors.

The Cubs’ only real competition in the division is the Cardinals, who are clearly a step below the Cubs, who should cruise to another NL Central title. The question then becomes how far can they get in the postseason. While it won’t be easy to repeat as World Series champs, one thing seems certain: with the group of players the Cubs have — not to mention one of the game’s best managers in Joe Maddon — the team likely won’t be waiting another 108 years to bring the next title home to Wrigleyville.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.cubs.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Cubs win! Memorable Cubs-Indians World Series Game 7 goes to extra innings, makes fans wait longer for a title

This year’s World Series set up to give a long-suffering fan base its first championship in generations. Either the Cubs would have won their first World Series title since 1908 or the Indians would have accomplished the feat for the time since 1948. The Indians had more rest going into the series, having beaten the Blue Jays in five games in the ALCS, but the Cubs had the best record in the majors this season and appeared to have the best overall team heading into the Fall Classic, particularly with getting Kyle Schwarber back for the first time since April to perform DH duties in Cleveland and pinch hit in Chicago.

After taking a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Indians looked like they would be able to cruise to the title, especially with two of the final three games at their home park, Progressive Field. The Cubs’ bats finally came alive, though, in Games 5 and 6 to give the Cubs two in a row and force the decisive Game 7 with the Cubs sending presumed NL Cy Young winner SP Kyle Hendricks to the mound and the Indians using their ace, SP Corey Kluber, who was making his third start of the series and second straight on short rest.

The Cubs got off to a quick lead in Game 7, with OF Dexter Fowler hitting a leadoff home run — the first ever in a World Series Game 7 — to put the Cubs on the board first.

The Indians tied it with a Carlos Santana RBI single in the bottom of the third. The Cubs retook the lead in the fourth, with a two-run inning thanks to RBIs by SS Addison Russell and C Willson Contreras. They added to the lead in the next inning with a solo home run by 2B Javier Baez and 1B Anthony Rizzo‘s RBI single. Then in the bottom of the fifth, the Indians cut the lead in half by scoring two runs on a wild pitch by P Jon Lester, who came into the game after 4.2 innings from Hendricks. C David Ross, who entered the game with Lester and his playing in the final game of his career, hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to make it a 6-3 game. After Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, OF Brandon Guyer hit a RBI double to make it a 6-4 game. It became a whole new ballgame one batter later when OF Rajai Davis smashed a two-run shot to left field, the first postseason home run of his career, to tie the game at 6-6.

Hendricks pitched well but was pulled by manager Joe Maddon after 4.2 innings, four hits, two runs (one earned), a walk and two strikeouts. Lester had a strong performance in his first relief outing since the 2007 ALCS as a member of the Red Sox; he went 3+ innings, allowing three hits and an unearned run while walking one and striking out four. Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, who threw 62 pitches in the previous two games, gave up the three-run lead he had inherited and failed to get the four-out save. He did get through the ninth inning, though, to force extra innings.

On the Indians side, Kluber went four innings for the Tribe, giving up four earned runs on six hits with no walks or strikeouts. RP Andrew Miller, who has been the key to the team’s bullpen throughout the postseason, allowed two earned runs on four hits in 2.1 innings; he walked one and struck out one. RP Cody Allen, the team’s closer, came in next and went two innings, before giving way to RP Bryan Shaw, who came into the game with one out and a runner on first in the top of the ninth. He got through the inning without the runner scoring that’s to an acrobatic play by SS Francisco Lindor to end the inning and leave OF Jason Heyward stranded at third.

After a 17-minute rain delay, extra innings began with a leadoff single by Schwarber off of Shaw. Three batters and one out later, OF Ben Zobrist gave the Cubs the lead again when he drove in Schwarber with a RBI double that set up runners on second and third with one out. C Miguel Montero then scored Rizzo with a base hit up the middle that made it 8-6 and loaded the bases. The Montero hit also ended Shaw’s night, as Indians manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen to bring in P Trevor Bauer, who hasn’t had a good postseason but got the two outs he needed to get to keep the bases loaded and keep it a 8-6 game heading into the bottom of the 10th.

With Chapman done for the night, the responsibility of getting the final three outs of the game fell to RP Carl Edwards Jr.  After striking out 1B Mike Napoli to start the inning, he got 3B Jose Ramirez to ground out to Russell at short. That left Guyer as the Indians’ last hope to extend the game. He did just that by drawing a walk, which brought Davis to the plate to try to do what he did in the eighth and tie it with a two-run home run. Davis couldn’t duplicate that feat, but he did make it 8-7 by driving in Guyer with a RBI single. That was it for Edwards’ night as RP Mike Montgomery came in from the bullpen to try to get the final out. He got the job done, inducing a groundout to 3B Kris Bryant by OF Michael MartinezMichael Martinez.

Although Chapman was charged with a blown save, he ends up earning the win as the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years. Montgomery earned the save, and Shaw was tagged for the loss. Zobrist was named World Series MVP. And there will be celebrations going on in Wrigleyville all night long as the longest championship drought in U.S. pro sports history has officially ended with the Cubs’ first championship in more than a century. Fitting that their fans had to wait through a rain delay and an exta inning before being able to celebrate.

It was quite a season for the Cubs, ending with something that some people thought might never happen again. Now the question becomes how long will it be until the Cubs win it all again? Can they repeat in 2017?

2016 World Series preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians — A battle of the droughts

With the conclusion of the ALCS and NLCS, we have reached what may be the most anticipated World Series in quite some time with the Cleveland Indians, who haven’t won the World Series since 1948, taking on the Chicago Cubs, whose World Series-winning drought famously dates back more than a century to 1908, and their last World Series appearance taking place in 1945 — before the World Series was even televised.

Regardless of the lack of World Series success the teams have had in their respective histories, they both deserve to be in this year’s Fall Classic; the Cubs had a MLB-best 103 wins during the regular season, while the Indians’ 94 wins left them one victory behind the Rangers, giving them the second-best record in the American League. The Indians bulldozed their way through the American League playoffs, sweeping the Red Sox in the ALDS and beating the Blue Jays in the ALCS, losing just one game to win the series in five. The Cubs’ path to the World Series was a little more difficult; they needed four games to beat the Giants in the NLDS and the Dodgers took them to six games in the NLCS.

The American League won this year’s All-Star Game for the fourth straight season, giving the Indians home-field advantage in the World Series. As a result, Games 1 and 2 will be in Cleveland. Wrigley Field will host its first World Series game in 71 years on Friday when Game 3 takes place, with Games 4 and, if necessary, 5 following it over the weekend — assuming there are no weather issues that affect the schedule. If Games 6 and 7 are necessary, they are scheduled for Cleveland on Nov. 1 and 2, respectively. First pitch for all games, except Game 5 on Sunday, are scheduled for 8:08pm Eastern; first pitch Sunday is at 8:15pm Eastern. All games are on Fox in the U.S.

The Cubs have the advantage in the starting rotation, led by likely National League Cy Young winner SP Kyle Hendricks, who pitched 7.1 innings of 2-hit ball in Game 6 of the NLCS to clinch the pennant for the Cubs. During the regular season, Hendricks was 16-8 with a 2.13 ERA. SP Jon Lester also had a big season for the Cubs, going 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA. After a strong start to the season, SP Jake Arrieta was inconsistent in the second half en route to a 18-8 record and 3.10 ERA. If a fourth starter is needed in the series, the task would likely fall to veteran SP John Lackey, who is a two-time World Series champion, having won it with the 2002 Angels and 2013 Red Sox. Injuries have had an affect on the Indians’ rotation, with SPs Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar missing significant chunks of the season; Carrasco is out for the season, but Salazar has recently started throwing and could be added to the World Series roster. Leading the Tribe’s rotation is SP Corey Kluber, who led the team during the season with a 18-9 record to go with his 3.14 ERA. Behind him in the rotation are SP Josh Tomlin, who was 13-9 with a 4.40 ERA this season, and SP Trevor Bauer, who is confident he’ll be able to pitch in the World Series despite a well-publicized finger laceration caused by a recent drone accident. If Bauer can’t go, P Ryan Merritt may get his second start of the postseason; he went 4.1 scoreless innings in the Game 5 clincher.

While the Cubs have the better rotation, the bullpen advantage goes the other way, with the Indians. RP Andrew Miller, who was acquired from the Yankees in a midseason trade, was an X-factor in the ALCS and could be the same against the Cubs. He can come in in the middle of the game if needed or pitch later in the game to get the ball to closer Cody Allen with the lead intact. In six appearances in the postseason, Miller has struck out 21 batters in 11.2 innings while earning a win and a save and not allowing an earned run. Allen is a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities this postseason. Like the Indians, the Cubs acquired a top-level reliever from the Yankees before the trade deadline, RP Aroldis Chapman, who saved 18 games for the Cubs during the regular season after the trade. His numbers in the postseason haven’t been great, however. Chapman has gone 8 innings, with 10 strikeouts and a 3.38 ERA. He is 1-0 and a has 3 saves in 5 opportunities. That’s not the way you want your closer to be pitching heading into the World Series.

Offense is another part of the game in which the Cubs have the edge.  OF Javier Baez has been leading the charge at the plate for the Cubs, with 13 hits in 38 at-bats, with 4 doubles, 1 home run and 2 steals. 3B Kris Bryant is right up there with Baez; he’s 13-for-39 with 5 doubles and 1 home run. 1B Anthony Rizzo and SS Addison Russell have underperformed in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Each of them is currently hitting under .200 so if they can get back to the offensive production the Cubs have come to expect from them, that would give the Cubs more of an offensive boost. For the Indians, SS Francisco Lindor is the sole regular hitting over .300; he has 10 hits in 31 at-bats, with 2 doubles and 2 home runs. Other key hitters, like 2B Jason Kipnis and 1B Mike Napoli have sub-.200 batting averages in the postseason. If they can’t get out of their slumps early in the series, don’t expect them to have much success against the Cubs’ stellar starting pitchers.

Neither team is lacking in the managerial department, with Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Indians skipper Terry Francona both considered among the best in the majors.

My preseason prediction for the World Series was the Blue Jays over the Cubs. Toronto fell just shy of making it, but the Cubs are in it. With the way the Cubs played all season and the strong starting pitching they’ve gotten in the postseason, I’m going to pick them to win their first World series title in 108 years. I think the series will go six games, which would mean the series would finish in Cleveland and the Cubs wouldn’t be able to celebrate the title at Wrigley.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

With the Indians and Cubs in the World Series, a team will win it for the first time in 68 or 108 years

The impossible has happened. With the Cubs’ 5-0 shutout of the Dodgers in tonight’s Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, they advance to their first World Series since 1945. Cubs SP Kyle Hendricks threw a gem to take care of business, with RP Aroldis Chapman closing it out with the save. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series title since 1908, and their upcoming opponents, the Indians, last took home the title in 1948. One fan base will get to celebrate a World Series victory for the first time in decades. It starts in Cleveland on Tuesday. Full World Series preview coming up before then.

MLB Postseason Preview: Predictions

Now that the Wild Card games are over and the division series are set, time to predict what’s going to happen in the playoffs.

American League
Division Series
Red Sox beat Indians in 4 games
Blue Jays beat Rangers in 5 games

Championship Series
Blue Jays beat Red Sox in 6 games

National League
Division Series
Nationals beat Dodgers in 5 games
Cubs beat Giants in 5 games

Championship Series
Cubs beat Nationals in 6 games

World Series

tor_1200x630

beat

chc_1200x630

in 7 games.

I’m 2-0 after the Wild Card games, let’s see how I do in the rest of the playoffs.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Chicago Cubs

We’re now moving on to the NL Central in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2016 season, with a look at the Chicago Cubs, who finished in third place in the division last season.

The Cubs had their best season since 2008 last year, winning 97 games and earning the second Wild Card in the National League, eventually advancing to the National League Championship Series, in which they got swept by the Mets. In addition to the hiring of manager Joe Maddon, considered one of the best in the game, youth was the key to the Cubs’ success last season, led by rookie 3B Kris Bryant — who won the NL Rookie of the Year Award — and 1B Anthony Rizzo leading the way on offense. On the pitching side, SP Jake Arrieta had a breakout season that ended with him winning the league’s Cy Young Award. Not content with a 97-win season a year ago, the team was active this winter, signing three of the top free agents who were available: OF Jason Heyward, SP John Lackey and 2B Ben Zobrist. To make room for Zobrist at second base, they traded SS Starlin Castro to the Yankees for RP Adam Warren, allowing SS Addison Russell to play the position full-time this season after splitting time between second and shortstop in 2015.

The Cubs’ offense was a mixed bag, with their batting average near the bottom of the league, while their home run and RBI totals were in the top half of the National League. Rizzo led the way, with a .278 average, 31 home runs and 101 RBI while Bryant added a .275 average, 26 home runs and 99 RBI despite spending the first couple weeks of the season in the minors before being called up. C/OF Kyle Schwarber also showed some positive signs offensively in the 69 games he played at the major league level. Although he hit just .246, he smashed 16 home runs and 43 RBI in 232 at-bats. For his part, Arrieta led the pitching staff with a 22-6 record, a 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts in 229 innings. SP Jon Lester struggled some in his first season with the team, finishing the season in with a 3.34 ERA and 207 strikeouts in 205 innings to go along with an 11-12 record.

The additions of Heyward and Zobrist should help the Cubs raise their low batting average from 2015 while also adding some power to an already-potent offense. Then when you factor in rookies like Bryant and, especially, Schwarber having more major league experience, they may also have improved offensive numbers in 2016, to help with the team’s run production. The defense should also be improved this season with Castro gone, as his 24 errors were the most on the team last season. The addition of Lackey to the starting rotation fills in the spot vacated by SP Dan Haren, who retired following last season, to bring a veteran starter who had a career-best 2.77 ERA with the Cardinals last season, along with 175 strikeouts while going 13-10 over 218 innings. If Lackey can put up similar numbers in 2016, it would provide a solid middle-of-the-rotation option behind Lester and Arrieta.

The NL Central was one of the best divisions in the majors last season, resulting in the Cubs finishing in third place despite a 97-65 record. With the signings the Cubs made in the offseason, they’re not just the favorites in the division now, but perhaps the favorites in the National League. Heyward and Lackey were both on the Cardinals last season, so their additions not only help the Cubs but also hurt the defending division champs. A 100-win season is not out of the question for the Cubs, which would be their first since 1935, who are likely the best team in the NL Central. They are also the favorites to win the World Series — something they, of course, haven’t done since 1908 — according to the Vegas odds.

Be sure to check back every day at 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.cubs.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com, http://www.fangraphs.com

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Royals beat Mets to win their first World Series title in 30 years

The Mets were the hottest team in the postseason after sweeping the Cubs to win the National League Championship Series, but the Royals were the better team in the World Series, winning it with a 7-2 victory in 12 innings of Game 5 on Sunday night at Citi Field to win the team’s second World Series title, the first since 1985.

Mets SP Matt Harvey threw well through 8 innings — striking out 9 while keeping the Royals off the scoreboard — but when he went back out for the 9th inning, he allowed a leadoff walk to OF Lorenzo Cain, who scored on a Eric Hosmer double, after stealing second base, to cut the lead to 2-1. Closer Jeurys Familia then came in to relieve Harvey. After inducing a groundout by 3B Mike Moustakas that advanced Hosmer to third base, C Salvador Perez hit a grounder to third, and after 3B David Wright through the ball to 1B Lucas Duda to get the out there, Hosmer broke for home and, after a bad throw by Duda that got away from C Travis d’Arnaud, Hosmer scored the tying run. OF Alex Gordon then grounded out to end the inning. After the Mets went down in order in the 9th, we went to extra innings.

After scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th, the Royals broke it open in the 12th inning, scoring 5 runs off of RPs Addison Reed and Bartolo Colon, ultimately winning 7-2 after closer Wade Davis struck out the side, allowing just a single to OF Michael Conforto in his inning of work, to end the game. Perez, who hit .364 in the Series, was named MVP, becoming the first catcher to earn the honor since the Blue Jays’ Pat Borders in 1992.

This series may be over, but these teams aren’t through with each other yet; they’re set to play each other in a two-game series in Kansas City to open their respective 2016 seasons in April.