Previewing 2018 National League Wild Card Game

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It is finally that time of the year as playoff baseball is finally back, but what will be interesting is we will have a first as both squads in the National League Wild Card game will face off after having to play tiebreaker games to determine their respective division’s crown. With that being said, let’s take a look at both teams in this Wild Card Game.

Chicago Cubs

Because of being in the same division as the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs got a worse seed than they deserved as they finished with the second best record in the National League. However, they have a chance to play against the Brewers to prove they are better if they beat the Rockies in this Wild Card Game. The Cubs will trot out Jon Lester to the mound as Lester is known for pitching phenomenally in key games. If he doesn’t perform well, that could put more pressure on their bullpen and that might be what hurts them. Chicago has a lot of talent on their roster with the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez as they can hit for a lot of power and are incredibly versatile. On paper they undoubtedly have more talent plus they have more experience. And their pitching is very good, but because this is a Wild Card Game, they will have a lot more bullpen arms than usual and at points the bullpen struggled in 2018 and didn’t fare well towards the end of the season. They must hope the bullpen doesn’t falter especially against Colorado’s powerful offense, but their hope will be Lester goes for seven innings. Plus their offense has been very inconsistent and will need to be clicking on all cylinders.

Cubs Lineup

  1. Ben Zobrist RF
  2. Kris Bryant LF
  3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  4. Javier Baez SS
  5. Albert Almora CF
  6. Daniel Murphy 2B
  7. Willson Contreras C
  8. David Bote 3B
  9. Jon Lester P

 

Colorado Rockies

After losing their tiebreaker game against the Dodgers, the Rockies will be making their second consecutive appearance to the Wild Card Game. Last year they lost to the Diamondbacks, but they hope they won’t lose this contest for the second year in a row. One of the things Colorado can do is slug the ball as they possess some of the best hitters in the game like Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon. They will send out Kyle Freeland to the mound as Freeland probably had the best pitching season in Rockies’ franchise history going 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA. However, Freeland is pitching on short rest and pitches better at home (which is ironic as Coors Field is a haven for batters), though his numbers on the road are still good. At one point the Rockies bullpen, which they tried to revamp and improve greatly over the offseason, was downright awful, but as the season went along it got a better and actually is probably the best of the two bullpens in this game. If it does come down to a bullpen showdown, the Colorado is in much better shape.

Rockies lineup

  1. Charlie Blackmon CF
  2. DJ LeMahieu 2B
  3. Nolan Arenado 3B
  4. Trevor Story SS
  5. Matt Holliday LF
  6. Ian Desmond 1B
  7. David Dahl RF
  8. Chris Iannetta C
  9. Kyle Freeland P

 

Notes: The season series was split at 3-3 and they scored the same amount of runs at 33-33. Rockies hit worse on the road than at home with a collective batting average of ..226, but Wrigley Field is a small ballpark and it easily could become a slugfest.

Predictions

James Rowe: Cubs. While there is a lot to like about the Rockies, the Cubs have the advantage of playing at home for a good two weeks now and haven’t had to travel as much Colorado who are flying all the way from Los Angeles and now have to play three straight games in three different cities (they played in Denver on the final day of the regular season). Plus the Cubs just simply have a better team on paper. The only question will be what type of contest it will be.

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