We have arrived at the final series of the year. The Cubs – and now also the Brewers – aren’t fighting for a playoff spot in this one, and only pride remains.
But, for the Cubs, there’s arguably a significant point of pride on the line: staying below 90 losses for the first time in four years. With a series win, that can happen.
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs beat the Cardinals in games two and three of their last series, and it genuinely felt good.
The Brewers were an early darling this year, pointed to by many – present company included – as evidence of why you don’t punt on seasons, even if folks think you won’t be any good.* They spent a little money each of the last two offseasons, despite calls for them to hang it up. And then they led the NL Central for most of the season. The only problem? It was mostly a mirage, built upon early season luck. After April, the Brewers were essentially a .500 team the rest of the way. After May, they were six games under.
To my eye, the future looks ugly for the Brewers (and the Reds, if we’re commenting on the NL Central), so missing the playoffs this year has to sting.
*Obligatory caveat for true and necessary rebuilding processes. Given their unique financial and organizational issues, the Cubs had to do what they did, and you’ll never convince me otherwise.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Friday, September 26 at 7:10 CT on CSN.
- Saturday, September 27 at 6:10 CT on WGN.
- Sunday, September 28 at 1:10 CT on WGN.
Expected Starters and Lineups
These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
Starters: Eric Jokisch (1.74 ERA, 4.09 FIP; 8.00 K/BB), Tsuyoshi Wada (3.22 ERA, 3.67 FIP; 2.94 K/BB), Kyle Hendricks (2.46 ERA, 3.31 FIP; 3.13 K/BB)
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Javier Baez, SS
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Jorge Soler, RF
- Luis Valbuena, 3B
- Welington Castillo, C
- Arismendy Alcantara, CF
- Logan Watkins/Chris Valaika, 2B
Starters: Jimmy Nelson (4.57 ERA, 3.69 FIP; 1.94 K/BB), Wily Peralta (3.62 ERA, 4.26 FIP; 2.35 K/BB), Mike Fiers (1.92 ERA, 2.94 FIP; 4.31 K/BB)
- Carlos Gomez, CF
- Jonathan Lucroy, C
- Ryan Braun, RF
- Aramis Ramirez, 3B
- Khris Davis, LF
- Scooter Gennett/Rickie Weeks, 2B
- Mark Reynolds, 1B
- Jean Segura, SS
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
It’s the final series of the year, so the hot and cold streaks fall away a bit. Instead, there are just some things I’d like to see.
I’d like to see Anthony Rizzo punctuate his excellent season with a solid series.
I’d like to see Javier Baez have a nice game or two so that his march into the offseason isn’t solely one giant kick in the ass.
I’d like to see Tsuyoshi Wada make a dominant start to add a final layer of intrigue to that option/trade decision.
I’d like to see Eric Jokisch have a nice first big league start, even if you can take almost nothing away from it beyond a little scouting.
I’d like to see Kyle Hendricks finish out a great rookie campaign, though it won’t cause me any doubt if he lays his first real egg.
I could go on. I’d like to see the Cubs play well. I feel good as the Cubs head toward the offseason, and a couple more wins would just add to that good feeling.