When baseball hits a postseason state of mind, odd things happen. I cheer for Ryan Braun home runs. Scoreboard-watching is more tantalizing than any one game. I hope the Cardinals have to play two on Monday. And I begin to aggressively hope the Cubs get the Marlins in the mini-series, but not for the reasons you might think.
I want the Cardinals to play the two games on Monday for two specific reasons. It's a 60-game campaign, and I don't want the Cardinals to be able to opt out of two games any more than the Cubs could against the Sox on Sunday. Play the games, regardless the justification. Also, if the games are played Monday, the recently added to the MLB roster Manuel Rodriguez will get two or three more days of MLB service time. Even for the teams not playing, players on the Injured List get paid for the extra day. Or, in the case of 2020, 2.77 prorated days. It's fun when the prospects get paid.
However, the reason I want the Marlins for the No. 6 seed isn't what you might expect. Whoever the Cubs play in the wild-card series will be a second-place division finisher. Whether it’s the Cardinals. Reds, or Marlins, the Cubs should be able to win the series. My hunch is the Cubs will be 52-56 percent favorites to win, regardless. Whoever it is, if the bats disappear, it doesn't matter. If Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks are off, their stay will be short, regardless of the opponent.
Why the Marlins? I did something I'm trying to get better at regarding baseball. Basic investigation. What I learned made me very "Team Marlins at 6."
Baseball starts with pitching. The Marlins’ primary starting pitcher in 2020 has been Pablo Lopez. I'm not too familiar with him. His entire MLB career has been with the Marlins. He came over in a trade with the Mariners for David Phelps, who pitched nine innings for the Mariners before becoming a free agent after 2017. You might remember Phelps’ brief tenure with the Cubs last year.
Sixto Sanchez is their second-best arm. He came over from Philadelphia in the J.T. Realmuto trade, in which I heard the Marlins got hosed. Sandy Alcantara is the Marlins’ third best starter. He came over in the Marcell Ozuna trade, in which I heard the Marlins got pantsed.
Starting catcher Jorge Alfaro? The Realmuto trade. First baseman Jesus Aguilar? Claimed on waivers. Outfielder Lewis Brinson came over in the Christian Yelich trade. While that still looks quite lopsided, if Yelich doesn't figure things out in a few years, his Milwaukee extension will skew the perception of the trade. Outfielder Magneuris Sierra and infielder Jazz Chisholm came over in the Marcell Ozuna trade, as well.
If the Cubs get bounced by the Marlins, perhaps Cubs fans will get closer to considering each foe viable, regarding any player or opponent as a worthy combatant. While I've seen the ugly side of Yankees Twitter the last ten days or so, I'd prefer to see Cubs fans to be a bit more cosmopolitan and respectful.
If the Cubs take care of their business, they might outdistance my expectations. With some Yankees aid, the Cubs can prepare for a 2003 rematch with the Marilins. This time, a fan in the stands won't be to blame (not that he really was last time, either, it was more Alex Gonzalez’ fault). It would be the team.on the field, and a potential lesson of the value of future talent. Here's to the Cubs improving at developing their own.