Before I get into the choices for the Cubs’ 25-man roster, which are being discussed beginning Tuesday afternoon by management according to this Tribune article, I wanted to show you, via quote from that article, that Theo Epstein’s thinking like we are regarding the teams competing for the wild card:
Theo Epstein wouldn't mind seeing the top contenders for the two NL wild-card berths endure a tedious and exhausting process.
"We hope there's a three-way tie, a 20-inning game to decide who plays on Tuesday, and that the Tuesday game goes about 30 innings," Epstein said Monday.
"And then rain delays make it a Thursday game, and then it goes 30 innings."
Well now. I’d be totally in favor of that.
12 days ago, I wrote this article stating that the Cubs’ choices for the postseason roster were probably fairly set, with few “choices” to be made among possible options. Nothing that’s happened in those 12 days has changed my mind about the list I posted there, so I’ll repeat it here:
Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey, Jason Hammel, Aroldis Chapman, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, Carl Edwards Jr.
That leaves Joe Smith and Trevor Cahill cheering from the bench.
Position players (14)
Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, Jorge Soler, David Ross, Miguel Montero, Willson Contreras, Javier Baez, Tommy La Stella, Matt Szczur, Chris Coghlan
I suppose it’s possible that the brass might switch in Smith or Cahill for Hammel. In the other article I had noted that Hammel’s previous outing might have put him on the bubble, but now he’s got a good one under his belt. It seems very clear that Hammel is much better at Wrigley than on the road, so could he work as a “long man” out of the pen for home games only? Is that better than having Smith or Cahill (or even Mike Montgomery)?
Regarding position players, the only possible swap-out I see would be Albert Almora Jr. replacing Coghlan, if they decide they’d rather have defense than a bit more hitting, and Coghlan, after playing terribly for the A’s, is pretty much hitting near his career norms since his return to the Cubs (.244/.357/.378, a .735 OPS which is almost exactly his career OPS — .734).
Has anything changed in your thinking about the playoff roster? It certainly won’t be announced until we get within a day of two of the first NLDS game, so Theo & Co. certainly have time to think about it. And don’t be concerned about the four-day layoff in between the last regular-season game and first playoff game:
Epstein said the Cubs could play a simulated game during the four-day break between the regular season and the playoff opener to keep pitchers and hitters sharp.
"It's what you make of it," Epstein said of the break. "To me, it's a lot better than having to push your guys extra hard and put more innings on guys' arms and not giving them enough rest and waking up and being worn down.
"I trust our guys to ramp it up and focus when everything is on the line, and (I) don't worry about that for a second."
Agreed there, and don’t forget that the wild-card team will have played only one game in those four days, so there isn’t really that much difference.
What do you think about the playoff roster? Your turn.