NLCS Game 4 Preview: Cubs vs Dodgers

What you saw last night is a Cubs team that looked simply...tired.

With some Spring Training games starting as early as late February, the Cubs have only had roughly 3 or 4 months off in the past year. And if you go back to to the 2015 season in which they were swept by the Mets, I'm sure the rest to play ratio for most of these players probably isn't ideal.

Is that an excuse for the utter lack of offense and poor bullpen play? Nah, not really. That's just the facts. This Cubs core is exhausted. And it's starting to catch up with them.

But the season isn't over. And this series certainly isn't over. Tonight the Cubs will face a pitcher that has exactly zero postseason starts to his name (although a couple appearances in relief). Does that matter? Sometimes yes, somethings no (see: Jose Quintana). But if given the choice between a pitcher with a track-record of postseason success and the opposite, I'd obviously take the latter.

Alex Wood is no easy matchup, however. In 25 starts this year, he put together a 2.72 ERA, 3.32 FIP, and a 8.92 K/9. He relies mostly on his sinker, curve, and change-up to get the job done. That may be a problem for Cub hitter who have seem baffled at change-ups and curveballs this series.

But the real question is what the Cubs will see from Jake Arrieta. In his first postseason start against the Nationals, he only lasted 4 innings - that was mainly due to a high pitch count. Can he cut down the workload enough to build a bridge to at least Pedro Strop in the 8th inning? Maybe it's wishful thinking. Or maybe it's the only way they'll win. But this Dodgers team isn't as familiar with Jake as you may think. In fact, with the caveat of extremely small sample sizes, the only batters that have relative success in 2 or 3 at-bats won't even be in the lineup today (Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal). That's at least some good news right? Well, kind of. Because there is a guy that will probably get the start tonight with a career average of .316 and 2 homers in 19 at-bats: Curtis Granderson.

Whatever the outcome of tonight, I'm surprisingly optimistic as I write this. Not optimistic in the sense that I feel the Cubs can pull out some Cinderella-2016 Game 7-magic, but optimistic about the Chicago Cubs as a whole. Making the playoffs is incredibly difficult in baseball. Winning in the playoffs is even harder. Advancing to the NLCS three straight years in a row and winning the World Series one of those times...? Well, that's just downright incredible.

So, no matter what happens, no matter what you feel about the offense, the bullpen, the in-game managerial decisions...let's make sure to embrace the fact that this team has been special over the course of the last three years. And remember what it felt like from 2009-2014, or in 2007, or 2008, or in 2003, or 1984, or 1969...

I'm not saying you can't be upset about the outcome of this series. I sure as hell will be. But just keep in mind that you're IN the good times now...you're in it. It brought me back to this quote from The Office:

Game information:
8pm CST on TBS

Lineups:

-Cubs-
1. Albert Almora CF
2. Kyle Schwarber LF
3. Kris Bryant 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo 1B
5. Willson Contreras C
6. Addison Russell SS
7. Javier Baez 2B
8. Jon Jay RF
9. Jake Arrieta P

-Dodgers-
1. Chris Taylor SS
2. Cody Bellinger 1B
3. Jusin Turner 3B
4. Yasiel Puig RF
5. Andre Ethier LF
6. Curtis Granderson CF
7. Yasmani Grandal C
8. Chase Utley 2B
9. Alex Wood P

Matchups:
[Courtesy of MLB.com]

screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-12-24-00-pm

Filed under: Game preview

Tags: Alex Wood, Jake Arrieta

Comments

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  • Here are the current Win WS Odds from 538.com after
    games of 10/17/17:

    538 Rating / Win World Series
    *at completion of day’s games

    Pre WC Games….………10/6 *…………..……10/7 *…………….
    CLV 1604 / 27%…….CLV 1607 / 34%……CLV 1607 / 33%……
    LAD 1564 / 18%…….LAD 1566 / 19%……LAD 1569 / 23%……
    HOU 1569 / 15%…….HOU 1576 / 22%……HOU 1576 / 22%……
    WAS 1551 / 11%…….WAS 1547 / 6%……..WAS 1550 / 8%……..
    CHN 1559 / 10%…….CHN 1563 / 13%……CHN 1560 / 9%…….
    BOS 1553 / 7%………BOS 1546 / 1%……..BOS 1546 / 1%………
    NYY 1561 / 6%………NYY 1560 / 2%…….NYY 1560 / 2%……..
    AZD 1539 / 3%………AZD 1540 / 3%…….AZD 1537 / 1%……..

    ………..10/9 *…………….10/11*……………….10/12*…………….
    CLV 1602 / 23%……
    LAD 1571 / 27%……LAD 1571 / 30%…..…LAD 1571 / 31%…..…
    HOU 1572 / 24%……HOU 1572 / 29%……..HOU 1572 / 30%……..
    WAS 1548 / 4%……..WAS 1553 / 10%……..
    CHN 1562 / 14%……CHN 1558 / 9%…….CHN 1560 / 18%…….
    NYY 1566 / 7%……..NYY 1570 / 22%…….NYY 1570 / 20%…….

    ……….10/14*…………….10/15*………….…….10/17*…
    LAD 1574 / 37%……LAD 1576 / 43%…….LAD 1581 / 52%………
    HOU 1575 / 43%..…HOU 1575 / 41%…….HOU 1568 / 26%……..
    CHN 1557 / 12%..…CHN 1555 / 7%………CHN 1550 / 2%………
    NYY 1567 / 8%….…NYY 1567 / 8%……….NYY 1574 / 20%……..

    Wednesday Game 4 win odds:

    538.com: LAD 51% CHN 49%

    Baseball Prospectus: LAD 46% CHN 54%

    (This is the largest divergence in the Postseason between 538 & BP)

  • fb_avatar

    What have seen so far is the Dodgers are Cub'ing the Cubs...grinding at bats.....hitting with RISP.....just like we did last year. Are they tired....sure they are and I wouldn't trade anything for what they have done the last 3 years! This may be the last we see of Arrietta in a Cubs uni. Let's keep our heads up and be proud of what they have accomplished....and like we have gotten used to saying over the years....theres always next year! Let's get after it today!

  • Hope jake gives the cubs 7 innings of quality pitching with control(no 4-5 walks to escalate his pitch count) and delivers one of his best starts since 2nd half '15 or early '16.

  • Only 3 to 4 months off? I’m really tired of hearing this narrative about how the team is gassed or tired or overworked… That’s a joke…This is one of the most pampered groups of athletes in America… Mostly in the prime of the career… Come on...don’t embarrass yourrselves

  • In reply to NCcub:

    Totally get that thought. And I definitely respect it. But keep in mind this is a grind no matter how pampered you are. They're not playing well, sure--that is a fact. But it's also very difficult to do anything for that long every single day. That's all I'm trying to get at here. Not an excuse, just how it is.

  • In reply to Myles Phelps:

    Myles, you're more charitable than I and thank you for that. I don't get his thought at all. Money doesn't make you Superman and it IS a long grind. I'm on the road about 10-14 days a month and my wife a little more than that. We're not athletes, and we're a lot older but just the travel aspect wipes you out. These guys have played 170 games and average 2 days off a month. These are human beings and they do get tired. Now of course all players are tired this time of year, including the Dodgers, but the reality is that the Cubs have had to scratch and claw a lot more than LA has just to get here. Just because players have access to amenities and money doesn't mean they're immune to fatigue, and no it isn't excuse but it a reason and darned good one. When we have to say that players shouldn't be tired because they're "pampered" then we should probably examine ourselves as fans because from what I've seen eh last couple of days we've become pretty entitled as a fan base and the lack of respect that is being show to these people, these players, these men who have brought us so much joy is beginning to make me angry.

  • In reply to TC154:

    And don't forget the Cubs travel to LA. Game 4 in Chicago CDT, Wednesday. Game 5 in WAS, EDT, Thursday. Late night flight to LA, emergency landing at 5 am (I think) in ABQ (MDT). Leave ABQ around 10 am Friday morning, arrive LA (PDT). Play Sat and Sun, return to Chicago, CDT. My internal clock is messed up just typing that.

    The Cubs made no excuses for this, but that had to be exhausting, no matter how "pampered" one is on those flights.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Although if they are tired because of having to travel from Washington to LA, maybe they could've toned down the "long night of partying" until after they won the World Series.

  • In reply to TC154:

    A point not brought up yet, many of these also have kids. Even if they have nannies, it's still some work.

    My hubby travels about a week a month for work. So do most of our friends. There is a huge difference between our child--less life when he comes home and our friends who have kids.

    Side note blackhawks did one of those cheesy interview things with different blackhawks and one of questions was what is best about a being a star athlete. I loved Keith's answer.

    Chartered flights.

  • We may not win, but We Never Quit!

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    YES!!!!!!

  • Just read where Bryant is tired. I'm sure between Daddy baseball leagues in his youth, college and minor league ball, he's hardly worked a real job in his life. I have little sympathy for his comments. Man up and play the game you love. You can rest next week I'm sure.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    If that is true then why don't the coaches realize that and play someone else for a while? Isn't that one of the main jobs of the coach?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    This is gonna sound silly, but I don't care. I consider myself to be in pretty decent shape. I played in a softball tournament two weeks ago....3 games over a day. My whole body was sore for 3 days. I thought to myself, could you imagine these guys that do this over an 8 month period? Not to mention the constant travel, appearances, interviews, etc...I don't care how elite of athletes they are. The travel and grind would wear anyone out. And they played a ton of meaningful games over the past 3 years. Oh, and they also have to workout 4x a week just to maintain their strength and conditioning . Yeah, it's their job. And most of us would love to have it. But man, it would be exhausting, both mentally and physically.

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    In reply to copinblue:

    If thats the case, what do you think of the players from the 50's and early who had to work real jobs in the offseason and take buses and trains to away games along w many double headers?

    I would give anything to switch lives w any of them and not complain 1 day of it. I would love to see them work construction everyday, lay tile, or carpet 300-330 days a year until they are 60+ w little to no saving or 401k.

    This stuff is hilarious.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    I have written and changed this comment three times, because I am unable to express completely how disgusting I think this attitude is.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Here’s a thought...give empathy a try. Or be an ignorant ass. It’s your call.

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    I remember JD saying how difficult it is to play baseball. It's hard work, if it wasn't then more would do it. Also, we're only seeing them on the field, we don't see how much they are in the weight room or doing other exercises (Jake is known for his long workouts) or how much time they are going over the opposition. As TC said above, they are traveling a lot and the constant wear that takes. This last trip to LA. The plane stops at Albuquerque for a number of hours, Q has to deal with what his wife is going through (I wish they hadn't identified whose family member it was) and then had to pitch. How much does that take out of someone?
    Now this doesn't explain all the high swings, the walks from the pitchers and everything else, only that to play baseball takes laser focus and if something is off by a half inch it makes quite a difference.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    This is absolutely spot on Jonahtan. Absolutely .

  • I don't care how good of shape you are in, or in the prime of your life or not... travel takes a toll, performing an athletic pursuit over and over takes a toll. Minor injuries and soreness builds up. Focus comes and goes. There are ebbs and flows. And you know what? These guys have lives too. Off the field concerns can creep in and affect performance too.

    The "suck it up" and play at peak performance at times is not humanly possible. Athletes are not robots.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I am by no means an athlete and even in my youth and prime I was not one. But I'm in pretty decent shape for a 50+ year old dude.

    Back about 10 years ago I was regularly traveling for work about 1 week a month as part of a site inspection team. Not a lot of physical exertion, but a lot of quality time in airplanes, sleeping in hotels, and shifting locations every day or two. I was zonked physically and mentally for days after a trip when I got home.

    Even in prime physical shape, I can see where the constant go, go, go, go, would drain them. But that's an explanation, not an excuse.

    Our Cubs are just getting their fannies stomped by the Dodgers - and keep in mind what the Cubs were doing to other teams last year when they were in the Dodger's place. LAD cruised into the post season and got a chance to rest far more than did Chicago - Just what the Cubs did last year.

    I think part of it is the Cubs are more mentally drained that LAD. Another part is - mentally - LAD is where the Cubs were last season at this time,... hungry and focused.

    We'll see how they fare tonight.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    But if the explanation is the truth, than it's a reason not an excuse.

    Is that the main reason they are down 3-0. No.

  • I played almost 130 games one summer in amature ball. I felt like I was on the diamond all the time. It took a lot a of the fun of the game and made it seem like a job. Players do get physically and mentally tired and lose their edge. It's not an excuse. It's a grind.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    If it is such a grind then why are the same "tired" ballplayers playing every inning every game when our team has such depth and interchangeable parts? This is getting utterly rediculous!

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    If its it over. I just wish the Cubs would have went w the plan a lot us were discussing after game 5. Have Lackey pitch game 1 in a game we would probably loose anyway due to fatigue, celebrating, and of course Kershaw. If we somehow win that game, we really take the sails out of the Dodgers.

    If we lose the game, at least we are more rested esp our bullpen and starting pitching and that would have given us the best chance to win. Instead we go into games 1 and 2 w the odds against us w short rest starters and fatigued and already weak underachieving bullpen.

    At the end it may have not mattered, but I still would have rather seen what we could have done under the correct scenario.

  • I think the Cubs are tired. But I also feel like the Dodgers are more motivated. They lost to the Cub last year. They were at Wrigley Field when the Cubs had their celebration. They have been on a mission all season. Like the Cubs last year, they have the eye of the tiger.

  • The. Dodgers. Are. The. Better. Team.

    That was the case all year. Why would it be any different in the postseason? That doesn’t mean the cubs didn’t stand a chance, but can this really be surprising after the season long grind this particular team went through, the subsequent lack of rest, 3 deep playoff runs, and the insanity of this NLDS? The Cubs are a great team. Top 5-7 in the game, and probably will be again next year. The Dodgers are better. And that’s OK.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    Well said , but no excuse for the stinker the Cubs unleashed on the fans last night. If they play like last night, I hope the networks block it out so the children won't have to watch !

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    In reply to Stubbs:

    Yes you have told us often they are as are Washington, Milwaukee, Arizona and Colorado. You must be fun to be around. Not.

  • Hope arrieta can have a tanaka type performance tonight.That's what aces do in must win games

  • They need to stop trying to pull the ball and the 400 foot swings. Go opposite field and try to play some small ball. I haven't really noticed them being that aggressive when they've had runner(s) on or stepping out to slow down the game when they're batting. It would be nice that change tonight. Pitchers gotta stop nibbling. Challenge them inside. If you hit one of them, oh well.

  • Actually think the cubs will loosen up tonight. No real expectations at this point.

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    Almora did the Soriano hop when he caught that. I wonder if he even knows who that is.
    Jake has to control his pitches. Bellinger just swung at a ball well outside. That’s one of the few Dodger batters to do that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Arietta is getting the tag of not being able to going long into the game. Will cost him so money.

  • 4 games. 4 home runs to start the scoring. Amazing.

  • Please Hammer don’t hurt ‘em!

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    Those 2 hits by Willson and Javy sounded so different. It’s like the movie “Trouble with the curve”, you can tell by the sound. Maybe this will start us today. Another good sign is Jake throwing only 22 pitches through 2 inns.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    32 pitches.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I need new glasses!

  • Wow, unless I'm mistaken..........this is the fourth time in four games that the Cubs have scored first. Think about that, the Cubs have lead in EACH game this NLCS with nothing to show for it to this point. And, like in each game previous, our starting pitcher is throwing too many pitches and looks like it will be a 5 or 6 inning start (at the most). This means the BP will be coming in, which means there is no confidence. It seems every time the Cubs score, the Dodgers score almost immediately after.

    I did my part. I shaved my playoff beard today because it just wasn't working. Now it's up to these Cubs to win the game. LOL

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    I thought it was me that was part of this lunacy. My beard came off earlier this evening... what more can we do...

  • fb_avatar

    We need what Joe said—more hits, and then a HR. Enough solo homers. I think all of our runs have come via the HR. That’s not going to make winners

  • fb_avatar

    Do he strikes out a lot—he also does this and we needed that. Now the test will be to hold them from coming right back in the top of the inning. We need that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    That was "does" he strike out a lot...

  • My heart was beating super hard.Jake hung a few curves that he luckily got away with.Please add 2-3 more runs

  • Get Davis out before he blows it

  • fb_avatar

    Jay on first. Let's score him for a little more room. Why not pinch run for Jay?

  • Oh No... Almora got another hit. I hope he is'nt on the bench next game.

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    I just noticed that when Joe came out to argue Utley's strike you couldn't see the CU on his jacket but only the BS, and that's exactly what he thought of that call!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I meant Granderson.

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