Last week, I wrote about who the Cubs might take to the wild-card game, given the fact that they don't really need more than one starting pitcher on that roster (two, maybe, if you want a "backup" in case of emergency).
Now, let's take this one step further and think about who the Cubs might put on a roster for the Division Series. I'm going to assume, for the purpose of this exercise, that the Cubs have defeated the Pirates in the wild-card game and are going on to face the Cardinals in the best-of-five Division Series.
For most of this regular season, the Cubs carried 13 pitchers and 12 position players during the time of the 25-man roster limit. I've written before about how I think this limits flexibility for the Cubs, especially with two catchers who don't play any other position. But Joe Maddon has made it work. The expanded September roster has allowed Maddon to mix-and-match and get some of his regulars some rest, which won't be possible once the roster limit returns to 25 for October baseball.
The Cubs could easily get along with only 12 pitchers in a five-game series, or maybe even 11. You need only four starters, and presuming they can go deep into games (a legitimate question for some on this staff), seven relievers ought to be enough.
So here's my 25-man roster to face the Cardinals.
Miguel Montero, David Ross
Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Tommy La Stella
Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler, Austin Jackson, Chris Coghlan, Quintin Berry
Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Fernando Rodney, Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill
Having Cahill on the roster (using the Jason Motte Loophole, since Motte is likely finishing the year on the DL) would give Maddon a reliever who can go multiple innings if any of the starters falter. Actually, Richard and Wood can do that as well. If the Cubs decide to go with 12 pitchers, Neil Ramirez could make it -- but then which position player gets left off?
It leaves off Chris Denorfia and Jonathan Herrera. That's a shame in some ways as both those men have made positive contributions to this team. But Jackson is a better outfielder and hitter than Denorfia, and Herrera wouldn't have been on the 25-man roster at all, most likely, if La Stella had been healthy all year.
I'd also like to see Schwarber get some time in behind the plate once the Cubs clinch a playoff spot, maybe against the Reds or Brewers next week, just so he'd be fresh in case of an emergency where he might have to catch an inning or two in a playoff game.
Your ideas for this might differ, so let's hear them.