First Round Playoff Preview: Marlins at Cubs, September 30 – October 2, 2020


Annnnnnd we’re back.After a brief two-day hiatus after the regular season (and a slightly longer two-year hiatus from an NL Central title), the Chicago Cubs are back in the playoffs from the top of their division. The Cubs will kick off “October” on September 30 as the three seeded NL side of the 16-team squad.

This first round will take place entirely at Wrigley Field and will be a best-of-three competition against the surprisingly competitive Miami Marlins (6th seed). And don’t worry, if you feel like you don’t know anything about the 2020 Miami Marlins, we’ve got you covered:

The Cubs will start Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Jon Lester (if necessary) in that order this series, which is a nice variety of flexibility and velocity. Although as we’ve discussed, the Marlins are significantly better against left-handed pitching, so Lester will likely be on a very short leash if the series comes to a Game 3. The Marlins, on the other hand, will use three right-handed players: Sandy Alcantara, the rookie Sixto Sanchez and Pablo Lopez, who works for the Cubs, given their problems against lefties.

As we’ve only played 60 games this season, I really prefer things not to end anytime soon, so a nice, easy win in a two-game series would be greatly appreciated. Come on Cubs.

We are going streaks

The Cubs de Chicago (0-0) finished the season strong, with two wins over the White Sox in a three-game streak in which they scored 25 points in three games – the second-highest points total in three games for the Cubs this season (they scored 26 points from August 30 to September 2). If the offense stays hot, I really believe this Cubs team can get through the Marlins. But if they are cold….

Miami Marlins (0-0) also ended the season strong, with a series victory over the Yankees on the road. The Yankees had a little less to play at the end, however, and the Marlins lost 3 of 4 to the Braves just before this series.

Information on game times and broadcasts

• Wednesday, September 30 at 1:08 am CT on ABC, 670 The Score
• Thursday October 1 at TBA on ESPN, 670 The Score
• Friday October 2 at TBA on ESPN, 670 The Score (if needed)

Matchups de pitch

Game 1: Kyle Hendricks (R) contre Sandy Alcantara (R)
Game 2: Yu Darvish (R) c. Sixto Sanchez (R)
Game 3: Jon Lester (L) v. Pablo Lopez (right)

Cubs de Chicago

• C – Willson Contreras
• 1B – Anthony Rizzo
• 2B – Jason Kipnis
• 3B – Kris Bryant
• SS – Javy Baez
• LF – Kyle Schwarber
• CF – Ian Happ
• RF – Jason Heyward
• DH – Victor Caratini

Unavailable: Brad Wieck, James Norwood, Daniel Descalso, Tyler Chatwood, Ildemaro Vargas, Rowan Wick

Miami Marlins

• C – Jorge Alfaro
• 1B – Jesus Aguilar
• 2B – Jazz Chisholm
• 3B – Brian Anderson
• SS – Miguel Rojas
• LF – Corey Dickerson
• CF – Starling Marte? *
• RF – Matt Joyce
• DH – Garrett Cooper

* Marte was hit in the helmet with a pitch on Sunday and left the game. It is not yet known whether it will be available, although it remains entirely possible.

Unavailable: José Urena, Logan Forsythe

Keep an eye on …

Pitcher of Cubs: Yu Darvish feels like the guy to watch this series. Why? Because I have a lot of faith in Kyle Hendricks to make the playoffs, at Wrigley Field, and against inexperienced, weaker roster against right-handed people like the Marlins. If Darvish wins Thursday, I bet the Cubs are heading into the next playoff round.

Cubs player: Kris Bryant was largely absent offensively all season, until waking up in the last series of the year against the White Sox: 3-8, 2HRs, BB, 6 RBI. I think we’d all be silly to assume his fights and injuries this season have gone * poof * … but that’s what I’m hoping for. Who knows? Maybe Bryant is rightfully feeling healthier / stronger and maybe that will really make all the difference. All I know is if he’s even close to the guy we know can be (and has been), the Cubs are going to have a much nicer October. Difficult clashes against the righties, however.

Pitcher of the Marlins: Sixto Sanchez was as hot as any pitcher in MLB and against some really good teams, to boot. However, when two of those teams (Nationals and Braves) saw it for the second time, it all blew up: 7.0 IP, 12H, 9ER, 6BBs, 4Ks combined. Hopefully the Cubs took a good look at those two starts to see exactly how Sanchez got tagged / the hitters changed their approach. And I hope the moment comes a bit to the rookie. A Cubs patient offense could consistently charge a lot of bases against that child. (Uh, but hey, so get some score, Cubs.)

Marlins player: Corey Dickerson is 4-16 with a triple, one walk and only two strikeouts against Kyle Hendricks and a 5-13 record with two doubles, one homerun and two strikeouts against Yu Darvish. He’s also hit .297 / .333 / .451 in his last 97 AP and is much better against right-handed than left-handed. It’s just a gut feeling, but let’s watch it this week.


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