By Todd Johnson
My baseball watching preferences are kind of weird. During the first week of the Cubs’ regular season, I watch every game. When the minor league season begins, I tend to wean myself off the major league club by the end of April. Then again, the Sunday afternoon MLB game is always my go to game and I catch games during the week when I can, especially during school.
And the opposite is true starting in late July after the All-Star break as the minor league season winds down, I start to watch more and more major league games. Right now, I don’t think I’ve missed a game for most of August. It’s been a pretty exciting stretch.
I am currently trying to figure out who should be on the playoff roster and who should not. The Cubs might make a roster move or two before the deadline on the 31st for a player to be on the roster and eligible to play in the playoffs. The Cubs could add a veteran catcher and they might even add another relief pitcher.
Here are the definite guys who will be playing in October:
Catcher – Willson Contreras
Infield – Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Daniel Murphy,
Outfield – Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Jason Heyward, and Ian Happ
Starting pitcher – Cole Hamels, John Lester, Kyle Hendricks
Relief pitcher – Pedro Strop, CJ Edwards, Jesse Chavez, Steve Cishek, Brandon Morrow, and Mike Montgomery
Then there are players who are likely to be on the roster. One is Addison Russell (if healthy) while David Bote is a definite possibility. Based on the past month, I would lean towards Bote being there as well. It would be hard to pass up the defense that Addison provides which allows Baez to slide over to second to put the best defensive line up on the field. Don’t ask me where Murphy plays if those two are on the field.
As for starting pitching, Jose Quintana should also be placed in the likely category, although I am not too high on him right now. Currently, I am split between Montgomery and Quintana as the fourth starter. Thankfully, that decision doesn’t have to be made for a month.
The Bench Roles
The Cubs should be scouring the waiver wire the next two days to find a veteran catcher to complement Contreras or they could call up Chris Gimenez, who needs a 40 man spot. While I like Caratini a lot, I don’t know if he’s quite ready for postseason experience. The Cubs would be taking a huge risk, or they would just be playing Willson every game, which is not a bad idea. They would just have a back up catcher in case of emergency.
The Cubs did go out and get outfielder Terrance Gore and sent him to Iowa. He is someone who could be a base runner late in games. That might be fine for when the rosters expand on Saturday, the first of September, but when you have the kind of bats the Cubs have, it would be very hard to leave one of them off the roster. Right now, Tommy LaStella’s tenure on the bench is in jeopardy with the acquisition of Daniel Murphy.
September should be an interesting month as the Cubs bullpen is still in a high flux position. Players are coming in and out, going on the DL coming off the DL. There are about seven names to fill two or three spots. Justin Wilson was left off last year and is a question mark again for this year. Jorge de la Rosa is more than likely to be left off the 25 man but will Randy Rosario? How about James Norwood? Tyler Chatwood and Brian Duensing are likely to not make it either. Luke Farrell and Brandon Kintzler’s roles are still up in the air. It does not look like Drew Smyly is going to be ready unless it’s going to be at the last minute. It could be a mess…or not.
It is a bit unsettling to have the bullpen so up in the air.
And then, Morrow’s availability for the postseason has not been answered, either. Joe Maddon has been able to mix and match fairly well so far. But will he be able to do that much longer.
As September approaches, the questions are few, but the impact of the decisions made about who gets to play in the playoffs could loom large.