It ain’t the date you hoped you’d be getting, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a lovely time.
At 7pm CT tomorrow night, the Chicago Cubs will host the Colorado Rockies in the one-game Wild Card Game that neither team particularly wanted to play. Each was recently the leader in their respective divisions, each saw another contender tie them by the time the final bell rang, and each lost in a decisive Game 163 today.
It’s a kick in the groin for both, but at least the Cubs got to stay at home for it, and get home-field advantage tomorrow.
Jon Lester will start for the Cubs tomorrow night, and he’ll be opposed by Kyle Freeland, the 25-year-old lefty who was all kinds of awesome this year for the Rockies (2.85 ERA over 202.1 innings and 33 starts). Freeland absolutely OWNED lefties this year, so you can/should/hopefully will expect to see lots of righties in there for the Cubs tomorrow night.
The rub for Freeland and the Rockies is that he will be starting on three day’s rest. Historically, even for your best pitchers, that just doesn’t work out well. I understand, given the alternatives and a strong bullpen, why the Rockies are doing it. They may very well hope they can just get a few innings out of Freeland and then go from there. But it’s a risk. Hopefully the Cubs’ bats are ready.
For the Cubs, Lester will be starting on normal rest, and he’ll have Cole Hamels available as back-up in the bullpen. And if Pedro Strop really is back, healthy, and available, you suddenly really like the arms the Cubs will have to work with.
Of course, it matters very little if the bats don’t get it together.
The Wild Card Game is its own round of the postseason, which means it comes with its own 25-man roster. That’ll be unveiled tomorrow, and you should look for something like 10 or 11 pitchers (two or three of which will be starters), and then 14 or 15 position players. That’ll leave a very, very deep bench for the Cubs, which means, yes, they should be able to have a very specific weapon like Terrance Gore available. (In 2015 against the Pirates, if you were wondering, the Cubs went with 10 pitchers and 15 position players.)
Much more on the new ONLY GAME THAT MATTERS soon.