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BCB staff Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS roundtable

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The front-page writers here had a chat Saturday morning about the series that begins tonight.

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Just a short time ago, the BCB front-page staff got together to have a virtual discussion of the NLCS postseason matchup between the Cubs and Dodgers. This is a transcript of that chat, lightly edited to put the answers in order so they made more sense. Unfortunately, Thomas Smith was unable to join us this morning.


Al Yellon: Well, here we are. It wasn't an easy trip to get here, but now the Cubs have another NLCS opportunity.

Duane Pesice: Great stuff.

Sara Sanchez: Just awesome!

Josh Timmers: The Cubs have to be running on adrenaline at this point. They have a "I'll sleep in November" attitude. In the 48 years since divisional play started, the Cubs have made the NLCS six times. Three in the last three years.

Al Yellon: This team seems to know how to win no matter what the obstacles are.

Danny Rockett: Another way to say it is, they know how to make other teams lose.

Duane Pesice: Let's hope that sustains them. Dodgers are tanned rested and ready.

Al Yellon: Let's start with the Game 1 choice that was announced: Jose Quintana. Good choice? Bad choice?

Duane Pesice: I like Q but I woulda gone Lackey

Josh Timmers: If they're confident that Quintana is 100%, then it's the right call.

Al Yellon: I think Q is the right choice vs. the Dodgers LH lineup. LA is better vs. LHP this year than last, but they haven't seen Quintana since 2014.

Sara Sanchez: I think Q will be fine. He was excellent against the Nats and the Dodgers haven't seen a lot of him.

Duane Pesice: The 12 pitches he threw Thursday shouldn't be a big deal, but I just like the idea of Lackey in maybe his last start ever cutting loose.

Sara Sanchez: Me too, Duane.

Josh Timmers: The Dodgers, unfortunately, didn't have those awful lefty/righty splits this year, however. They were actually a little better against lefties. That may be because teams threw more bad lefties against them, however.

Danny Rockett: It makes sense to hit ‘em with the best rested lefty we have. But I'm kind of of the opinion that Lackey, well rested, might have been the better choice. Especially because we are going up against a well rested Kershaw. Lackey is probably retiring and ready to leave it all on the field.

Al Yellon: Lackey should be ready to go in case Q runs into trouble.

Duane Pesice: Ready hell, they'll have to hold him down

Josh Timmers: Lackey may be the closer in game one. Or maybe Maddon is thinking of a tandem start.

Duane Pesice: I could see that. Or Rondon might resume his old job for a day

Al Yellon: Will Hector make the roster?

Josh Timmers: Probably. They need fresh arms.

Duane Pesice: I think he should. I have no confidence in Justin Wilson.

Al Yellon: I was surprised Wilson, who was on the roster mainly to pitch to Murphy, faced him exactly once.

Sara Sanchez: 100% agree re: Hector. They have to have someone who can get through the eighth inning.

Al Yellon: Will that mean one less position player?

Josh Timmers: Maddon was already playing without Ian Happ in the NLCS. He was on the roster, but I think Maddon forgot he was there.

Danny Rockett: It would be nice to have another righty. Carl Edwards Jr. is obviously going to pitch every game otherwise.

Al Yellon: I hope CJ has figured out how to throw strikes. And CJ should definitely NEVER throw on back to back days.

Josh Timmers: Edwards can't go back to back. That was the issue in the NLDS.

Duane Pesice: Happ will play this round...and I agree. CJ one game then sit.

Al Yellon: Happ was 1-for-12 vs. the Dodgers during the season.

Sara Sanchez: I think Hector would take Wilson's spot, unless there is something going on with him we don't know about.

Danny Rockett: Cubs got shut out 3 times by the Dodgers this year... probably quite a few 1-12's.

Al Yellon: Happ wasn't even on the roster during the first Cubs/Dodgers series this year.

Sara Sanchez: That West Coast road trip was during the worst stretch of the year. Everyone looked bad for it, not just Happ.

Duane Pesice: Happ has real helpful skills.

Josh Timmers: I think we can throw out the Cubs record against the Dodgers this year. Three of those games were in April and the other were in that disastrous West Coast swing in May. None of them are really applicable here.

Al Yellon: I agree with that. Remember? Cubs went 7-0 vs. the Mets in 2015, then got swept in the NLCS.

Josh Timmers: Remember how the Cubs did against the Mets in 2015 in the regular season? It meant nothing in the NLCS.

Al Yellon: LOL

Josh Timmers: Yeah, we think alike.

Al Yellon: What are some of the other key things to watch for in this series?

Duane Pesice: Grinding... need good at-bats from everyone. Also need that low strike zone.

Al Yellon: The Cubs hit Kershaw hard in May, even though they lost that game, and hit him well in the NLCS last year. Got to have a good game plan against him.

Sara Sanchez: The bullpen needs to pitch well.

Duane Pesice: Clearly, and starters need not to nibble.

Josh Timmers: Throwing strikes. The Dodgers walk more than anyone. The Cubs can't let them build up the pitch count and run wild in that exhausted bullpen.

Danny Rockett: The Dodgers have no holes in their roster. Just got to find a way to have at least one more run at the end of four of the games. I like these Cubs because they do seem to find a way. Got to take advantage of every little mistake. Allow the Dodgers to beat themselves.

Sara Sanchez: The starters were actually exceptional during the NLDS, but man it's painful to watch when the pen can't throw strikes.

Al Yellon: We're all agreed on throwing strikes. You're not going to win a lot of games where your staff issues nine walks like in Game 5 vs. Washington.

Danny Rockett: Cubs walked 25 in the division series. Just brutal.

Duane Pesice: The hole is in left field. Hit the ball to left. Turner is their Murphy.

Sara Sanchez: That's true, but Turner has a weakness Murphy doesn't. He's super susceptible to the quick pitch.

Duane Pesice: I just don't want to see him up with men on base

Danny Rockett: Jake walked five through four innings, but the weather was a factor for sure.

Al Yellon: It's going to be hot in LA tonight and tomorrow, like it was last year for the NLCS, temps in the 90s.

Duane Pesice: Windy too.

Josh Timmers: The Dodgers just have so many ways to beat you. I'm still looking for a weakness.

Duane Pesice: I want to see the Cubs play the Yankees, cuz you don't get to really be part of the lore until you have.

Sara Sanchez: I think their weakness is the same as the Nats. They are under a lot of pressure to perform and that can get in your head in ways that hurt your actual performance.

Josh Timmers: Their lineup isn't as tough as Washington's 1 through 8. But Turner, Seager, Bellinger are all very dangerous.

Al Yellon: The Cubs definitely have the managerial edge, as they did in the division series.

Josh Timmers: Dave Roberts is a good manager though.

Al Yellon: Roberts is a better manager than Dusty Baker, but still not Maddon's equal.

Danny Rockett: Yes. Pressure is on the Dodgers. Tommy Lasorda threatened to kill himself if the Dodgers don't win. That's a lot of pressure.

Al Yellon: Danny, I thought you were joking but Lasorda really did say that after he was honored by the L.A. City Council on his 90th birthday:

"Thank you for the honor. May God bless each and every one of you - and if the Dodgers don't win this time, I think I'm gonna kill myself," Lasorda said, to much laughter and applause from the crowd.

Josh Timmers: I'd pay $200 to any reporter who asked Lasorda about Kingman's performance after a Cubs win.

Al Yellon: I read Seager has some back issues and might not play tonight.

Josh Timmers: That would be a big boon to the Cubs if it happens. I'm betting he plays though.

Danny Rockett: Heard Kershaw is not 100% either, but that could be gamesmanship.

Josh Timmers: No pitcher is 100% this time of the year. It all depends on who can push through anyway.

Al Yellon: Who is the one Cub that you think will break through and have a big offensive series?

Duane Pesice: RIZZO!

Sara Sanchez: Javy.

Al Yellon: I'm going to agree with Sara -- Javy had a big NLCS against the Dodgers last year and I think he'll do it again.

Josh Timmers: Bryant. If the Cubs beat the Dodgers, the MVP is going to have to shine.

Danny Rockett: Javy. He's due.

Duane Pesice: Also Jon Jay.

Al Yellon: Bryant is definitely due after a bad series vs. the Nats.

Sara Sanchez: Man I love Jon Jay

Duane Pesice: No kidding. Complete pro

Sara Sanchez: He's such a solid steady at bat.

Danny Rockett: Can't keep these talented bats quiet forever.

Josh Timmers: With all those lefties in LA, Albert Almora is going to be key too. He needs a big series.

Al Yellon: All right, time for series predictions!

Duane Pesice: Cubs in six

Danny Rockett: Cubs in 7. This one goes all the way... then Lasorda reneges on his promise...

Al Yellon: This will not be easy. The Dodgers are very, very good. But so are the Cubs, and they know how to win. Cubs in seven.

Sara Sanchez: I agree with Duane, Cubs in six.

Josh Timmers: We're being homers if we pick the Cubs, right? Objectively, the Dodgers should win this one. But since this is baseball, the Cubs will probably take it. My head says Dodgers in 6. My gut says Cubs in 6.

Sara Sanchez: Ha ha ha, I was just thinking we are like the modern iteration of the old SNL Superfans skit.

Josh Timmers: Maddon is going to hit 4 home runs in game one, Sara.

Danny Rockett: I think the Dodgers will be very tough at home innings 3-6 when the fans are there....

Duane Pesice: I have ribs smoking on the patio. I think the Cubs sweep at Wrigley. Happy Saturday, everyone. Let's have a good game!

Danny Rockett: Can I add one thing? Parts of the Dodger Stadium crowd can be super rough. My girlfriend was punched in the face by an unruly fan last year. If you're going to the games...please be careful, watch your back. I'd suggest springing for better seats. Tamer down there. Let's get this! Go Cubs!!

Duane Pesice Back to the grill and the gummies. Cheers all!