CHICAGO -- After weeks of evaluating, the Chicago Cubs have some decisions to make regarding who makes the playoff roster for their best-of-five divisional series against either the New York Mets or San Francisco Giants. It’s likely those decisions won’t come until Thursday, or even Friday morning, but we can take another stab at determining who might be on and who might be left off with the caveat a name or two can change based on the opponent.
Here are the likely locks to make the roster, assuming the Cubs take 11 pitchers and 14 position players as they did last year.
Pitchers: Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Justin Grimm, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman.
Position players: Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Miguel Montero, Willson Contreras, David Ross, Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler, Chris Coghlan, Javier Baez.
Bubble players: Matt Szczur, Jorge Soler, Tommy La Stella, Albert Almora Jr., Munenori Kawasaki.
Analysis: The pitching staff looks set whether the Cubs play the Giants or the Mets. Unless Edwards comes up lame after getting hit by a ball on Sunday or somehow Trevor Cahill finds his way into the bullpen, the above 11 names should be in the dugout or pen on Friday.
Having three reliable lefties in the bullpen could be a key. The Mets were just 19-18 when a lefty started against them while the Giants ranked 11th in OPS in the National League versus left-handed pitching.
The position players are a tougher call and could easily come down to specific arms their opponent will have in the bullpen. It may not just be a righty/lefty thing either but what kinds of pitches guys throw and how the Cubs’ role players match up against them. For example, one of La Stella’s strengths is hitting off-speed stuff while Soler is better against fast pitching.
Soler is only a bubble guy because of his recent health; he’s played two games over the past several weeks. But Joe Maddon has already said it won’t preclude him from making the roster so he’s more likely on than not. It leaves two spots for four players.
Both Szczur and La Stella have proven they can come off the bench and give a good at-bat while Almora is Chicago's best defensive outfielder, though he’s also shown he might be able to handle himself in the batter’s box. Neither La Stella (5-for-28) or Almora (1-for-10) had many hits as pinch hitters while, Szczur ranked fifth in the NL in that category. Kawasaki is probably on the outside looking in but showed he can play as well.
With few righties on the bench, expect Szczur to make it leaving one spot for La Stella or Almora Jr. In that case, it could come down to the righty/lefty thing of the opponent. Looking at the other teams’ best pitcher – their closer – both the Mets and Giants employ righties who are much tougher on right-handed batters. Giants closer Santiago Casilla, in particular, is very ordinary against lefties sporting a .849 OPS against them compared to just .622 against righties. And the Giants are mostly a righty-dominated bullpen.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are very familiar with Mets stud closer Jeurys Familia, as he’s shut them down several times in the past. His OPS splits differ by about 100 points with just a .526 mark against righties, so the case could be made if the Cubs are thinking about pinch hitters in a crucial spot, La Stella might have the better chance. There’s an old saying in baseball when it comes to hitters: You can never have enough lefties. That could be the driving force behind the final roster decisions, however, Almora was a first-round pick for a reason and has a dangerous skill set.
The Cubs have until Friday morning to make their final decisions.
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.
WGC-Match Play: Where clichés come to life
Watch: Jusuf Nurkic says Trail Blazers will keep...
Jennings saves day for Smithson Valley
March Madness Picks Against The Spread 2017:...
Fabian Moreau suffers chest injury at UCLA pro...
Pro day results: North Carolina
England legends alarmed after Stokes windfall
QB Mitch Trubisky draws crowd at North Carolina...
Donald Trump cites report that NFL teams won't...
Bears sign safety Chris Prosinski and defensive...
Wednesday's matchup: Pistons at Bulls
Panthers QB Cam Newton to have shoulder surgery,...
|Mysterious ‘Hairy Blob’ Creature Could Be Decomposed Whale, Washed Ashore In The Philippines [VIDEO]|
|What Does Mama June Look Like Now In 2017? ‘From Not To Hot’ Star Suffers Complication During Makeover Surgery|