The staff of BCB front-page writers got together for another virtual chat late Friday afternoon about the Cubs, the division series win over the Giants, and what’s coming up in the NLCS beginning tonight. Again, this was lightly edited to put some answers that came in out of sequence, in an order that made more sense.
Al Yellon: Glad we could all get together for a second October roundtable. The Cubs didn't get the matchup I wanted (Mets) but it all worked out!
Duane Pesice: Yes. I wanted them too.
Al Yellon: And I wanted the Nats in the NLCS, and that didn't happen either. So maybe it'll work out again.
Danny Rockett: Heck of a series! Best comeback I've ever seen in person!
Al Yellon: Danny, I felt like you did. I was there, still almost can't believe it really happened.
Russ La Croix: The Giants definitely made it more interesting than I expected. Still the best four-game series I think I've seen.
Josh Timmers: The Giants were maybe the Cubs’ toughest matchup.
Duane Pesice: I thought so.
Danny Rockett: I love that the Cubs came back fighting twice! I thought I was dreaming.
Josh Timmers: Cueto and Bumgarner in a five-game series? That was tough.
Russ La Croix: Yeah, I was not looking forward to a Game 5 whatsoever.
Al Yellon: The Dodgers pitching staff is pretty banged up, even with Kershaw supposedly available for Game 2.
Duane Pesice: It sure is. Piecemeal starters.
Josh Timmers: Dave Roberts has been riding Kershaw and Hill and Jansen really hard. Is that going to catch up to him in the NLCS?
Russ La Croix: Hill got knocked out early in Game 5.
Danny Rockett: The Dodgers pulled out all the stops to even be here. 50-plus pitches for Jansen? Wow.
Al Yellon: I'm still amazed that Rich Hill came back from indy ball to be as good as he was this year.
Josh Timmers: Who would have ever thought we'd be worried about Rich Hill in the NLCS a few years ago?
Danny Rockett: Who would have thought Rich Hill wouldn't be running a car dealership by now?
Danny Rockett: And Kershaw was hittable in game 4.
Duane Pesice: Dodgers arms have to be in bad shape.
Al Yellon: Do you guys think the Cubs will add another lefty (maybe Zastryzny?) to the roster for all the LA lefthanded hitters?
Duane Pesice: They wouldn't miss La Stella if they did.
Josh Timmers: I do think the Cubs will add Zastryzny. I just don't know who will get left off. Edwards? Grimm?
Russ La Croix: Maybe, but I think it would be a stretch. You never know with Maddon, though.
Al Yellon: They're talking about carrying 12 pitchers, so CJ and Grimm would stay.
Danny Rockett: Most people knowledgeable with the matter say yes. Let La Stella go back to New Jersey like he did in August.
Duane Pesice: Bye Tommy.
Al Yellon: Zastryzny did well against the Dodgers in LA in August.
Danny Rockett: CJ looked solid. Grimm had a good one and a bad one. Zaz had 3⅔ innings of solid Hammel mop up. I'll take it.
Russ La Croix: Hopefully it just wouldn't be too big of a stage for him. I'm sure it wouldn't, but there's always that chance of the jitters.
Danny Rockett: He's a red head. We have no feelings.
Al Yellon: I'd like to think that Maddon and guys like Rizzo and Ross can help any rookie jitters.
Russ La Croix: Well, we're all set then.
Josh Timmers: If you look at the Dodgers splits against lefties though, they're terrible. They're hitting like .213 with a .290 OBP against lefties. The Cubs only have one lefty starter, they need more in the pen.
Al Yellon: So you have Wood and Montgomery and add Zaz... that should be enough, right?
Josh Timmers: Yes. There is Chapman, but he's in a class by himself. As I said last time, it doesn't matter what hand you bat against him.
Duane Pesice: Yeah.
Russ La Croix: Definitely.
Duane Pesice: I'd like to think that Coghlan can hit at maybe 2 am...
Al Yellon: Cogs was a nice decoy in Game 4
Josh Timmers: He was. Some brilliant managing by Joe.
Russ La Croix: The Dodgers hit abysmally at Wrigley this year as well. Granted, very small sample size, but they were pretty awful.
Al Yellon: Cubs held them down pretty good in LA, too. Could have won that last game if not for the brain fart by Javy.
Josh Timmers: And Javy is playing out of his mind right now. A star is born.
Duane Pesice: Yes.
Danny Rockett: That throw to second by Javy wouldn't have mattered if the Cubs could have scored. You can't win 0-1.
Duane Pesice: Gonzalez is always dangerous, and Turner.
Al Yellon: Are those two the Dodgers you worry most about?
Josh Timmers: I worry about Seager more than anyone.
Russ La Croix: Well, there' s always Kershaw.
Josh Timmers: Yeah, not counting Kershaw.
Al Yellon: Agreed on Seager. He's an MVP candidate and hit the Cubs really well this year. The Cubs didn't face Kershaw at all this year, so who knows what to expect.
Duane Pesice: I suspect Kershaw is gonna be less of a factor.
Danny Rockett: He's as pesky as they come.
Russ La Croix: I hope he's less of a factor, that's for sure.
Josh Timmers: The Cubs hit lefties really, really well. I don't know what that means for Kershaw, but it could mean trouble for Hill.
Duane Pesice: As long as they throw hard enough. Slow lefties kill the Cubs.
Al Yellon: Which Cubs do you look to see step up in this series?
Russ La Croix: Rizzo.
Al Yellon: Agreed on Rizzo. He needs to go on one of his hot streaks.
Josh Timmers: I think it's going to be Baez again. He loves the spotlight. Also Bryant.
Danny Rockett: If Baez steps up any higher he'll be in the upper deck.
Duane Pesice: Dexter.
Danny Rockett: Rizzo and Russell.
Josh Timmers: Russell is struggling. But he'll be all right.
Russ La Croix: And it'd be nice to see Russell slow things down a bit. It looked like he was really pressing against the Giants.
Josh Timmers: I think it's going to be tough for Rizzo. The Dodgers have a lot of left-handed pitchers.
Al Yellon: I'd like to hope that Jake can put together a really good start at Dodger Stadium.
Russ La Croix: Baez has been amazing so far. Hopefully it'll keep up for another two series.
Josh Timmers: I look to have Jon Lester win two games. We're harping on the Dodgers vs. lefties -- Lester could end up as MVP.
Al Yellon: If they had MVP for the division series, Javy would have won it. But yes, Lester could do that in the NLCS
Danny Rockett: Heyward hit the bejeebus outta Dodger pitching this year. That'd be cool.
Duane Pesice: Maybe Soler with all of those lefties. He could run into one.
Russ La Croix: Looks like Lester against Maeda in Game 1.
Al Yellon: And they haven't officially said so, but looks like Kershaw throws Game 2 vs. Hendricks.
Josh Timmers: Cubs have never faced Maeda, right? That could be a problem.
Danny Rockett: We haven’t seen Maeda, not a single Cubs player.
Al Yellon: Right. But Maeda has an ERA over 11 in his last three starts, and hasn't thrown more than five innings in almost a month.
Duane Pesice: Maeda is maddening. He looks hittable.
Josh Timmers: Maeda really struggled down the stretch.
Danny Rockett: Yeah. He got lit up by the Padres and Giants. And then the Nats. I think we’ve got a 10-run game in us somewhere.
Russ La Croix: He only went more than six innings once since July.
Al Yellon: I'd love a laugher in these playoffs. Haven't had one yet.
Josh Timmers: Dave Roberts has made it clear he only trusts three pitchers: Kershaw, Hill and Jansen. We'll see if that's enough.
Duane Pesice: Hill will get lit up..
Al Yellon: Prediction time!
Danny Rockett: Cubs sweep. I can't afford any of this.
Russ La Croix: I'll go Cubs in 6.
Duane Pesice: Cubs in five.
Russ La Croix: And Wrigley goes bonkers when it does.
Josh Timmers: Cubs in 7. I know everyone thinks that the Cubs will roll (certainly all the Dodgers fans that I talk to while picking up my daughter think so), but I think it will be a tough series. But the Cubs will win in the end.
Al Yellon: Cubs in six. I'd love to say five, but that'll be tough to do. Would be happy if it happened though!
Danny Rockett: I hope all series wins are on the road so my car doesn't get set on fire.
Josh Timmers: Man. I should park my car by Wrigley so I can collect the insurance money!
Russ La Croix: Disguise it well!
Duane Pesice: I want them to win on the 29th, but that won't happen.
Al Yellon: Now, just for the record: Who do you think will win the ALCS (not who you want to win, but who you think will win)?
Duane Pesice: Toronto.
Al Yellon: Toronto... too much firepower for a banged up Cleveland pitching staff.
Danny Rockett: Blue Jays. Because I have tickets and Canadians are very nice people when they aren't fighting about hockey or throwing beer cans.
Josh Timmers: I think Toronto is going to win big. And I don't want to play in the Rogers Centre in the World Series.
Russ La Croix: That's gonna be close... I'm going to take the other side and say Cleveland.
Duane Pesice: Javy for MVP though.
Al Yellon: Yes, who will be series MVP? I'll go with Rizzo.
Danny Rockett: I figured... Javy for president.
Russ La Croix: I'll take Bryant on this one.
Josh Timmers: Javy, Javy, Javy. The media has fallen in love with him. For good reason.
Duane Pesice: Was gonna say.
Danny Rockett: Heyward. Just got a feeling.
Josh Timmers: Oh, I hope you're right, Danny. That would be awesome.
Duane Pesice: Yuge.
Al Yellon: Would love to see him step up.
Russ La Croix: It'll be tough for him with all the lefties.
Danny Rockett: That Baez gum catch? Even my ex-wife, who hates baseball, is a Javy fan now.
Josh Timmers: I remember when Baez was in the minors. People kept questioning his defense. HA!
Al Yellon: He worked really hard to get this good.
Josh Timmers: Yes, he did. He really worked on becoming a complete player. He got humbled, but he didn't let it discourage him.
Russ La Croix: Quickest tag in the Central! And beyond!
Danny Rockett: We call it #JavyTagPorn on the Son Ranto Show.
Russ La Croix: Highlights complete with cheesy '70s music, Danny?
Danny Rockett: Love it... sounds like an off season project!
Al Yellon: Seems like a really thoughtful and smart guy as well as being tremendously talented.
Duane Pesice: Contreras likewise.
Josh Timmers: Oh yeah. Contreras was someone who came out of nowhere. All of a sudden, he's one of the best players in the Southern League last year.
Danny Rockett: Contreras is Javy now in 1-2 years. Electric.
Russ La Croix: I loved the GIF of him dancing with the champagne bottles in the locker room in San Francisco.
Al Yellon: When I saw Contreras play for Kane County in 2013, I thought he might be a backup catcher in MLB. Shows you how hard he worked to improve, and I had him pegged wrong.
Danny Rockett: Believing in yourself and confidence is a huge part of baseball success.
Al Yellon: Absolutely!
Josh Timmers: I remember when I got to talk to Keith Law. He said no one ever said to him "You know, keep an eye on this Contreras kid," like they normally would with a sleeper. He gave the Cubs development staff some big kudos on Contreras. But also kudos to Willson himself.
Al Yellon: So, I think we've pretty much covered everything, unless anyone has some final comments.
Russ La Croix: Eight more to go!
Danny Rockett: Eight is enough.
Al Yellon: You know, I really believe in this team. I think we're going to the World Series.
Duane Pesice: Yes.
Russ La Croix: Man, I sure hope so. Everything's lined up for it.
Josh Timmers: The Cubs should win the World Series. Everyone thinks so. But as we know, it's baseball. And baseball doesn't always make sense.