One month from today, the National League division series will begin, and if the Cubs continue to have the best record in the league, they will host Game 1 of their series at Wrigley Field.
Numerous acquisitions by the Cubs since the All-Star break have really helped the team, notably Cole Hamels, Jesse Chavez and Daniel Murphy.
Those acquisitions have also created some very difficult decisions for who will be on the team’s postseason roster.
For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to assume the Cubs will carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers. That might wind up being different depending on the opponent, but in the past that’s been the pitcher/position player split on Joe Maddon-managed teams for the Cubs in the postseason.
First, let’s look at the players who will absolutely, positively be on the postseason roster, without question.
Albert Almora Jr.
Carl Edwards Jr.
That’s 22 players. With the division series schedule set up as it is, teams will need four starters (Game 1 is on Thursday 10/4, Game 4 is on Monday 10/8, so the Game 1 starter couldn’t go again until Game 5).
That leaves three spots for eight players.
Addison Russell, David Bote, Terrance Gore, Tommy La Stella
Jorge De La Rosa, Brian Duensing, Brandon Kintzler, Randy Rosario
One of those four pitchers would make it if Morrow isn’t healthy for the postseason. De La Rosa has been very effective since he was acquired, and it’s possible he’s the first guy on the bubble. Kintzler has been ineffective and likely sits. I don’t see the Cubs carrying 12 pitchers in any postseason series.
As for the position players, yes, I can actually see Russell being left off a postseason roster. Right now he’s a defensive replacement. Gore is almost certainly going to be added to the postseason roster — you saw Monday how he can help a team, by being inserted as a pinch runner and immediately stealing a base.
Then it’s a decision between Bote and La Stella as to who management thinks would be better off the bench. TLS has had a very good year as a pinch-hitter, but that’s his only real value. Bote has also been very good as a PH, and provides defensive value at both second base and third base. If Russell is left off, the Cubs could have both Bote and La Stella, which might actually be the better choice. That would leave them without a true backup shortstop, but really, how often do you need that?
That’s how I see things as of September 4. Much can change in the next four weeks, but Theo & Co., along with Maddon, will have some tough choices to make.