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Who’s on Your Chicago Cubs Wild Card Game Roster?

Analysis and Commentary
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2015 mlb postseason[Bonus: Tonight at 8pm CT, Luke, Michael and I will have a Live Stream here at BN to start getting pumped for the Wild Card Game. Stop by the site tonight and hang out with us as digital friends.]

With the Wild Card Game looming on Wednesday and a roster decision due soon, we thought it would be fun – for discussion purposes, only – to offer up our (me, Luke, Michael, and Luis) thoughts on what the Cubs’ one-game roster should look like in Pittsburgh.

For my part, I’ll likely discuss the starting lineup separately, so I’ll offer only a 25-man roster. From there, each of the guys offered their own bits – roster/lineup/discussion/etc. – as the spirit moved them. What’s interesting is how little there is to debate on the makeup of the roster. All of us go with 15 position players and 10 pitchers, and all of us agree on those 15 position players. We also agree on the pitching for the most part, and it looks like the debate would be around the Cahill-Rosscup-Ramirez group.


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Enjoy:

Brett’s Roster

Starting pitcher (1): Jake Arrieta

Catchers (2): Miguel Montero, David Ross

Infielders (6): Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Tommy La Stella

Outfielders (7): Dexter Fowler, Kyle Schwarber, Austin Jackson, Chris Denorfia, Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan, Quintin Berry

Bullpen (9): Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Fernando Rodney, Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard, Travis Wood, Zac Rosscup, Jon Lester

Luis’ Roster

Starting lineup noted with positions.

Starting pitcher (1): Jake Arrieta

Catchers (2): Miguel Montero, David Ross

Infielders (5): Anthony Rizzo (1B), Starlin Castro (2B), Addison Russell (SS), Javier Baez (3B), Tommy La Stella

Outfielders (8): Kris Bryant (LF), Dexter Fowler (CF), Kyle Schwarber (RF), Austin Jackson, Chris Denorfia, Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan, Quintin Berry

In the bullpen (9): Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Fernando Rodney, Neil Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard, Travis Wood, Jon Lester

Notes: Chris Coghlan doesn’t get my starting nod in part because of his .139/.179/.167 slash in 39 PA against Pittsburgh  and 3-for-17 at PNC Park this season. With Jake Arrieta owning the fifth best ground ball rate in baseball (55.7%) and the Pirates having the sixth highest ground ball rate (47.6%), infield defense should be a high priority. That is why I feel as if Javier Baez (despite being 1-for-6 vs. Pittsburgh this year) should start at third, moving Kris Bryant to the outfield in the process. With those ground ball rates in mind, Trevor Cahill (61.3 GB%) and Clayton Richard (59.3 GB%) are also on my roster.


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Luke’s Roster

Starting Lineup
C – Montero
1B – Rizzo
2B – Castro
SS – Russell
3B – Bryant
RF – Coghlan
CF – Fowler
LF – Schwarber
SP – Arrieta

Bench
INF – Baez
INF – La Stella
C – Ross
OF – Soler
OF – Denorfia
OF – Jackson
PR – Berry

Bullpen
Long – Hammel
RHP – Rondon
RHP – Strop
RHP – Rodney
RHP – Grimm
RHP – Ramirez
LHP – Wood
LHP – Rosscup
LHP – Richard


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I’m actually not too picky about who is in the lineup or where exactly they play for this game. I can make a case for moving Bryant to the outfield and adding La Stella to the starting infield, for starting or not starting both Coghlan and Schwarber, and for finding a spot for Baez. Unfortunately, most of these guys haven’t faced Gerrit Cole enough for the numbers to mean much of anything. But, then, we knew Maddon wouldn’t use just numbers to assemble this lineup anyway.

I am keeping Lester off here deliberately. There are so very few potential game situations in which I think actually using Lester would be a good idea, and those cases are so unlikely to occur, that I don’t think it is worth reserving a spot on the 25 man roster just in case one of them happens. I’d rather have Haren than Hammel, but with Haren having pitched on Sunday that just doesn’t make sense.

Michael’s Roster

Starting Lineup (in order)
CF – Fowler
LF – Schwarber
3B – Bryant
1B – Rizzo
RF – Coghlan
2B – Castro
C – Montero
P – Arrieta
SS – Russell

Bench
INF – Baez
INF – La Stella
C – Ross
OF – Soler
OF – Denorfia
OF – Jackson
PR – Berry

Bullpen
Long – Lester
RHP – Rondon
RHP – Strop
RHP – Rodney
RHP – Grimm
RHP – Ramirez
LHP – Wood
LHP – Richard
LHP – Rosscup


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So that’s my setup, and it’s not too far off from Luke’s. Starting from the bottom, I think that has to be the bullpen. Obviously you need Rondon, Strop and Grimm in there, and after that it’s just the usual suspects. I think Ramirez probably won’t get into the game, but I think he’s shown enough that, if the situation presents itself, he can be used. The reason I went with Lester instead of Hammel or someone else is in case the nightmare scenario happens and Arrieta gets hurt just before the game, in the first inning, etc… There’s no reason to save Lester for an NLDS Game 1, if that game never happens. The Cubs need to have the best pitcher possible starting the game and Lester is that guy after Arrieta. Of course, I would not let him pitch other than covering for an emergency. For one game, there are plenty of options out of the pen.

The bench, well, I love the bench. There are so many good ways to use everyone. I’d like to see Soler and La Stella get pinch hit opportunities, to see Quintin Berry pinch run, and to see Jackson, Denorfia and Baez in for Schwarber, Coghlan and Castro as soon as the Cubs have the lead late (passed the 5/6th inning). At some point, hopefully, the Pirates will bring in a lefty to face Schwarber and/or Coghlan and that’s when I’d start making these changes. The Cubs bench is full of starters, which is a pretty nice secret weapon.

On the lineup construction, I stand by what I have. No, I don’t think this will ultimately be the lineup, but I like how this one works. Despite Schwarber’s recent struggles, he still has a 15.6% walk rate in September. He gets on base and he always has the potential to hit home runs, which, in a game like this, are invaluable. I moved Coghlan down past Rizzo and Bryant, but that’s not a knock on him. He’s in the lineup, because he too will take his walks and has power in his bat. Even with any recent struggles, Coghlan is, to me, a safer play than Jackson or Soler. That said, I couldn’t watch the game end with Bryant or Rizzo in the on deck circle while Coghlan (or Jackson, etc.) is at the plate. Sorry, bud. Castro is hot as hell, Russell’s glove will not move and I am still stuck on the pitcher batting eight, despite the goal of keep Arrieta in the game as long as possible.


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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