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National League wild card game preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, Tuesday 10/2, 7 p.m. CT

It’s time to win or go home for the winter.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Entering today, there were four National League teams the Cubs had yet to meet in postseason play: Phillies, Brewers, Reds and Rockies. (I’m including the Pirates in the list of teams the Cubs have played in the postseason, as the Cubs met them in the wild-card game in 2015.)

That number will be reduced by one tonight as the Cubs and Rockies have their first postseason meeting. If the Cubs win, they’ll knock another one off the list Thursday, when they’d meet the Brewers in a division series beginning at Miller Park.

The latter is what we have been looking toward all year, right? With the Cubs and Brewers having the two best records in the National League for most of September, I figured they’d meet in that division series. The only thing that’s changed is that the Brewers will have home field advantage.

First, though, the Cubs must defeat the Rockies in this game. The Cubs have the edge in postseason experience. Many of the current Cubs have been through the last three postseasons with the team and others have significant playoff experience. Meanwhile, most of the current Rockies have one game’s worth of postseason experience, the 2017 wild-card game, which they played, and lost, on the road.

And the Cubs have done quite well when their backs are against the wall:

Umpires for tonight’s game: Chris Guccione (home), Mark Wegner (1B), Bill Miller (2B — crew chief), James Hoye (3B), Tripp Gibson (LF), Gabe Morales (RF). It occurs to me, not that I have done exhaustive research into this, that these are umpires we have not seen call many Cubs games this year.

Site note: As we have done here the last few years for postseason night games, Josh Timmers will write a “rapid recap” that will post shortly after tonight’s game ends. I will have the usual morning recap up at 8 a.m. CT tomorrow.

We’ve already had a lot about tonight’s game here earlier today, so let’s get right on to today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Rockies lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Kyle Freeland, LHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

BCB’s Sara Sanchez posted a detailed look at this pitching matchup earlier this afternoon, which is worth reading if you haven’t already done so.

I’ll simply note here that these pitchers matched up at Wrigley Field April 30, with Lester allowing two unearned runs and Freeland giving up three runs in seven innings. What these teams did off these two pitchers five months ago on an unseasonably warm evening (80 degrees) is probably not too relevant on October 2.

Perhaps more relevant: Lester’s last eight starts have been outstanding. He’s posted a 1.71 ERA and 1.225 WHIP in 47⅓ innings, with 44 strikeouts and just two home runs allowed.

But Freeland has almost matched that in his last 11 starts: 2.18 ERA, 1.194 WHIP, just four home runs in 70⅓ innings.

These are two of the best pitchers in the game and both are having excellent late-season success.

You know what that probably means — tonight’s score will be something like 13-12.

Perhaps a factor tonight: Freeland is going on three days’ rest, and he has not pitched on short rest at all this season. Lester is on his normal four days’ rest.

Today’s game is on ESPN. Announcers: Matt Vasgersian, Jessica Mendoza, Alex Rodriguez. Or, you can watch via what ESPN is calling a “Statcast-driven telecast” on ESPN2. Announcers for that broadcast: Jason Benetti, Eduardo Perez and Statcast writer Mike Petriello. More on the ESPN2 broadcast here.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Rockies site Purple Row. If you do go there to interact with Rockies fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. Here’s how it works.

You’ll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads” so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game’s StoryStream as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.


Who will win the wild card game?

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