October Baseball Is Back!

2017 NLDS Game One Preview: Chicago Cubs(92–70) vs. Washington Nationals

(AP Photos)

The Chicago Cubs are ready to defend their 2016 World Series Championship. Kyle Hendricks is tasked with toeing the rubber in game one at Nationals Park tonight in Washington, D.C. Stephen Strasburg will take the ball for the Washington Nationals and manager Dusty Baker.

Game 1: Friday, Oct.6, in Washington, 6:31 p.m. CST (TBS)
Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 7, in Washington, 4:38 p.m. CST (TBS)
Game 3: Monday, Oct. 9, in Chicago, TBA (TBS)
Game 4*: Tuesday, Oct. 10, in Chicago, TBA (TBS)
Game 5*: Thursday, Oct. 12, in Washington, TBA (TBS)

Cubs Game One Lineup:

  1. Ben Zobrist RF
  2. Kris Bryant 3B
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Contreras C
  5. Schwarber LF
  6. Russell SS
  7. Heyward CF
  8. Baez 2B
  9. Hendricks P

Nationals Game One Lineup:

  1. Trea Turner SS
  2. Bryce Harper RF
  3. Anthony Rendon 3B
  4. Daniel Murphy 2B
  5. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
  6. Jayson Werth LF
  7. Matt Wieters C
  8. Michael A. Taylor CF
  9. Stephen Strasburg P

The 2017 postseason has a different vibe for our Chicago Cubs. The 108 year drought is over and a new mission has replaced it, repeating. Joe Maddon and his boys are locked and loaded and ready to go.

Kyle Hendricks faces Stephen Strasburg as the Washington Nationals are the first obstacle on the road back to the top of the heap.

Kyle Hendricks will be asked to go out and get things for a Cubs rotation that has had its fair share of issues this year. Injuries and a significant drop statistically has created inconsistency for the Cubs rotation. Hendricks spent a significant amount of time on the disabled list this year but since the all-star break has returned to the guy we saw stare down Clayton Kershaw in game 6 of the 2016 NLCS. The Professor posted a 2.18 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP after the break and has established himself as a top of the rotation guy that has ice water in his veins.

On the other hand Stephen Strasburg has been just plain dominant, posting a 0.86 ERA over his final 10 starts. He has posted a 6.7 WAR and struck out 204 batters. In his one start against the Cubs back in June he was dominant. He threw 7 innings and struck out 13 Cubs hitters while securing a 8–4 win.

RIZZ (Keith Allison via Flickr)

Can the Cubs offense that scored more runs then anybody in the National League in the 2nd half solve one of the premier rotations in baseball? The x-factor is the amount of innings Dusty has asked his starters to throw this year. The National bullpen was awful in the first half and Dusty leaned on his starting arms heavily. The top 4 starters for the Nationals combined for 758.1 innings. Hendricks only pitched 139.2 this year and the Cubs staff has pitched 81 innings less then the Nationals at 677.1.

The Nationals added Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brian Kintzler at the trade deadline and now posses a much better bullpen. Doolittle has been the closer but all three have experience in that role.

The Cubs have a machine in the closer’s role. Wade Davis set a Cubs franchise record by saving 32 consecutive games. He has struck out 79 in 58.2 innings while compiling an ERA of 2.30 and a WHIP of 1.142.

The Machine (Keith Allison via Flickr)

The Cubs will be looking to Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, Jr., and Brian Duensing to step up in the high leverage, late inning situations. The wild card is the choice of Justin Wilson being added to the roster over Hector Rondon. Wilson has struggled mightily with his control since coming over from Detroit, However he has good success against Daniel Murphy in a small sample size. He has struck Murphy out 3 times in 6 at bats. Wilson has allowed 1 run in his last 7 appearances on 4 hits and 5 walks over 5 innings of work.

Last year the Cubs entered the postseason as the heavy favorites to take it all. This year not many are even giving them a chance to get past Washington. But we have El Mago and a Professor and Bryzzo and J Hey. We have Schwarb-ombs and the notorious C.E.J. We have the machine and Addi and Q. We have ‘hats to the left’ and Contreras and Jay. Zobi-wan and the Mad Scientist. We have a W flag we love to fly and a song called “Go Cubs Go” that follows the W! Here’s to 11 more W’s and 11 more “Go Cubs Go’s” and another World Series title and another epic parade! See you on Twitter!!!! October baseball is back!!

Doug Preszler is the type of person who can be a Cubs fan and an Iowa fan while living in South Dakota. He is a man who cares not for regional loyalty. He can be found on Twitter here, telling tales of the Dakotan Cubs fan’s existence.

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