By Todd Johnson
The Cubs begin the National League Division Series Friday night as they will take on the mighty San Francisco Giants in a best 3 out of 5 matchup. The Cubs won the regular season series 4 games to 3. In order to do that, the Cubs took three of four from the Giants about a month ago in Chicago. I don’t think much will change after a month.
The Cubs rotation is set at Lester, Hendricks, and Arrieta. If needed, Lester and Hendricks come back for games four and five. The Giants are going with Cueto, the Shark, and Bumgarner, while games four and five starters will be decided later.
Clark is picking the Cubs to win in 5.
Me, I am going with the Cubs in 4. Here are four reasons why.
1. Starting pitching is pretty much equal with a slight edge to the Cubs. However, I think it is going to come down to the bullpens. The advantage goes to the Cubs with Strop, Rondon, and Chapman at the back end. Every game becomes a six-inning affair if the Cubs have the lead.
2. The young kids can play. They can hit and they can play defense much better than the Giants. With an outfield of Almora, Fowler, and Heyward in the eighth and ninth innings, there won’t be many balls dropping in for San Francisco.
3. Home field advantage. I like the fact that, if need be, the Cubs will be playing three games at home with Kyle Hendricks pitching two of them. His ERA at home 1.32 at home. I think the Cubs just play better at home. They went 57-24 (.704) this year. Don’t discount that. I think if they have good at-bats at home, they also can just wear down Cueto and Samardjiza and get into the Giant’s pen early and often.
4. I like the depth the Cubs can run out there in every game. Their 25 man roster can come at the Giants in a variety of ways throughout the games. Because many of the Cubs play multiple positions, I think Joe Maddon will feast on the creative side of what he can throughout the series. As a result, the Cubs could have a different MVP every night.
Series MVP – I am going with Dexter Fowler. As he goes, so will the Cubs.
Pitching MVP – I think it’s Chapman. He will just shut down the Giants in the final inning of any game.
Surprise Player of the Series – Albert Almora will somehow leave a positive mark on this series!