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BCB staff roundtable: Cubs vs. Marlins wild-card series

A discussion of the upcoming postseason series from the BCB staff.

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Monday afternoon, the BCB front-page staff got together to have a virtual discussion of the postseason wild-card matchup between the Cubs and Marlins. This is a transcript of that chat, lightly edited to put the answers in order so they made more sense.

Al Yellon: So... the Cubs are back in the postseason. How’s everyone feeling? Nervous? Excited? Weird because it’s a weird season?

Duane Pesice: Weird because they don’t look good.

Ashley MacLennan: Excited but nervous mostly because of the intense amount of representation from the NL Central and just how totally weird this season has been.

Duane Pesice: Outside of the start, the Cubs have been unprepossessing

Thomas Smith: I’ll use the word intrigued.

Sara Sanchez: I am ridiculously excited. I think it’s going to be incredible to have 3-4 days of baseball with back to back action as I wrote earlier...that said the Cubs are streaky and the Marlins are playing with house money, so...this could go poorly.

Al Yellon: On the other hand, the Cubs have had very good starting pitching and the bullpen lately has been lights-out (well, except for Sunday). And these hitters can’t possibly continue to be THIS bad, can they?

Duane Pesice: Against playoff pitching? They could be. Gotta score runs!

Al Yellon: They scored 10 on Friday and 10 on Sunday.

Sara Sanchez: No one who pitched on Sunday should see an important inning in the next three games. Well, except Q and Adbert Alzolay, but you know what I mean.

Al Yellon: I am very intrigued, speaking of intrigued, by Alzolay. He suddenly appears to have figured things out.

Sara Sanchez: Alzolay is awesome and can we talk about how supportive he was of Brailyn Marquez on Twitter? He just seems like a good guy as well.

Duane Pesice: Alzolay is a good fellow, good follow. MLB agrees wth you. I did too.

Thomas Smith: I like the matchup with the Marlins. I thought it was the best possible draw. Try to win that and then see who is still standing.

Duane Pesice: I just want Marlin revenge.

Al Yellon: We do owe them one, Duane.

Ashley MacLennan: I still can’t believe the Marlins and Reds made the postseason.

Al Yellon: The Reds are a pretty good team that’s hot right now.

Sara Sanchez: I think the Reds are the most dangerous team in the postseason

Ashley MacLennan: I actually predicted they’d win the Central at the beginning of the season. Their pitching is scary.

Al Yellon: Do we want the Cubs to face the Reds in a division series? Because that’s who they get if they beat the Marlins and the Reds beat the Braves.

Duane Pesice: Gonna have to.

Ashley MacLennan: Yikes.

Sara Sanchez: I mean, postseason baseball gets difficult at some point. If the Cubs are going to do the thing they will have to beat good teams.

Duane Pesice: Yep.

Thomas Smith: Alzolay is interesting. How do you use him? Marlins struggle against RH pitching. Do you piggyback him with Jon Lester if needed for Game 3?

Al Yellon: I would, yes.

Duane Pesice: Yeah. That’s a great contrast to mess up timing.

Thomas Smith: That would be such a huge ask for an inexperienced guy but I think you have to.

Al Yellon: There are guys like that who step up all the time in postseason ball.

Sara Sanchez: Yes re: Lester. Although I think that Jon Lester just knows how to pitch in the postseason and I bet he’s going to come out and be nails for at least five innings.

Duane Pesice: I think Alzolay would be unconscious. He’d just throw and not worry about the bigness of the situation. Jon just needs to throw at the ends of the bats and not the barrels

Thomas Smith: I love Jon. The only issue now is he seems to really lose it all at once. He can’t just reach back anymore when things get sideways

Duane Pesice: No more challenge pitches!

Al Yellon: These hitters have to break out at some point, right? They can’t continue to be this bad, right?

Sara Sanchez: I think they already started.

Duane Pesice: They can but I expect that they won’t 2008 on us.

Ashley MacLennan: I’m hoping we really see the postseason reality kick in and they improve pretty quickly.

Al Yellon: Who do you think will be the ONE Cubs hitter who will turn it on starting Wednesday? I pick Anthony Rizzo.

Duane Pesice: KB

Ashley MacLennan: Bryant

Thomas Smith: If they don’t this ends quickly. The talent is in the clubhouse but guys who had terrible years are going to have to make big contributions.

Sara Sanchez: Mike Napoli’s gold chains are magic and the offense is going to ride that through the postseason like the Nats rode Baby Shark in last season

Al Yellon: KB hit well with the chains, he wears them until he slumps and then someone else wears them.

Sara Sanchez: I will say Schwarbs because I think everyone else hit the unslump button on the South Side.

Thomas Smith: I’m always gonna ride or die with KB. This weekend was massive for him.

Al Yellon: KB sure looked like he was back to being real KB over the weekend.

Duane Pesice: Quick wrists, hands through the zone.

Thomas Smith: So many people forget just how good KB actually is.

Duane Pesice: Yeah. He’s consistent, not flashy.

Sara Sanchez: I mean, in fairness to those people he had 2 HR and 5 RBI in the first 32 games and 2 HR and 6 RBI in the last

Thomas Smith: It’s been frustrating the last few years for sure. But you know it is in there

Al Yellon: Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks have been so good at Wrigley, will they be able to shut the Marlins down like they did the NL Central?

Duane Pesice: The catchers will have to help. As much as we hate it, framing is an issue here. Darvish and Hendricks both need the black of the plate.

Sara Sanchez: Well, luckily for us the Cubs have one of the best framers in baseball in Willson Contreras.

Al Yellon: Willson has really improved his framing.

Duane Pesice: Sure. Willie always could. He just didn’t, now he does.

Sara Sanchez: Framing in the 88th percentile according to Baseball Savant as I type this.

Al Yellon: That’s a huge improvement over previous years.

Sara Sanchez: He’s literally gone from 2nd worst in baseball to borderline elite in a season.

Duane Pesice: He’s got talent.

Thomas Smith: The work Willson has put in this year has been amazing. One of my all time favorites. He never stops trying to improve.

Sara Sanchez: And that bat flip.

Al Yellon: That was awesome!

Thomas Smith: YES!

Duane Pesice: I love his attitude. Actually, I love the whole team’s attitude

Ashley MacLennan: I like that they’re embracing being the “heel” so to speak, it shows a lot of confidence and I love it.

Al Yellon: The team has approached this weird season with exactly the right attitude, out there rooting for each other while still taking all the protocols seriously. They should be proud of what they’ve accomplished so far. And give David Ross a lot of credit, he’s shown why he was a great managerial prospect.

Ashley MacLennan: If you have no fans on site your dugout might as well be loudest. Ross has done a GREAT job in his first season.

Duane Pesice: They are pugnacious but not nasty.

Ashley MacLennan: I have a slight worry about Yu being a Clayton Kershaw type in the postseason, but I also choose to believe he will dominate.

Sara Sanchez: Honestly, I think aces have a HUGE advantage in these series since they are facing teams who haven’t seen them all year.

Thomas Smith: Can’t decide if Javy or Willson is the most capable of lifting the whole team.

Sara Sanchez: They both are in different ways.

Duane Pesice: Schwarbs is the guy that can make things new again.

Thomas Smith: I loved the way the team approached all of this. The attitude won them some games. I think the Marlins’ Cinderella story ends rather unceremoniously. And honestly I think the offensive hero of this team has been Jason Heyward.

Al Yellon: Heyward hit well last year, too, it’s just when Joe Maddon batted him leadoff for a while and he couldn’t do that, that dragged down his overall numbers. He’s been terrific this year.

Duane Pesice: People expected 30-35 HR from Heyward. He’s not that guy.

Al Yellon: He never was.

Ashley MacLennan: Heyward deserves a prize for being so totally HIMSELF this whole season. I admired him so much for being the only Cub to sit out after the NBA blackout. What a guy,

Thomas Smith: JHey is so professional. A real leader. I’m so happy the production was there. Just missed a career high OPS.

Duane Pesice: Great defense and killer for the 7 or 8 hole.

Al Yellon: Who’s your pick to click this series?

Duane Pesice: David Bote.

Al Yellon: I’ll take Hendricks, he always puts together a professional start, especially at Wrigley.

Sara Sanchez: Javy has been pretty electric lately.

Thomas Smith: I think Rizzo rolls on.

Ashley MacLennan: I want so badly for it to be Baez.

Duane Pesice: It’s going to be late-inning magic

Sara Sanchez: Is it too much to ask that they do the 10 runs thing they did to the White Sox multiple times?

Thomas Smith: Someone is going to have a key hit against our old pal Brandon Kintzler.

Duane Pesice: Brandon’s brother follows me on Twitter.

Al Yellon: All right, let’s make our series predictions. I say Darvish and Hendricks are lights-out and the Cubs take the first two games and win the series.

Thomas Smith: Agreed. 2-0 behind strong pitching.

Duane Pesice: I think Yu gets hit and the Cubs’ bats have to rescue them. But they do. Cubs in four

Al Yellon: (psst Duane — it’s a best of three)

Duane Pesice: I know.

Ashley MacLennan: Duane just wants extra baseball, Al.

Duane Pesice: Yes. Cubs will win but squeaky.

Sara Sanchez: The predictions business seems super fraught in 2020 but I will predict the Cubs get it done in the Wild Card Series after they scare us to death and don’t score for a game.

Ashley MacLennan: 2-0 baby.

Al Yellon: Anyone have any final thoughts they want to add?

Duane Pesice: Re re re re VENGE! Says K K K K K Ken. Go Cubs!

Ashley MacLennan: I think it’s going to be weird, but hopefully good weird!

Thomas Smith: Just staying with my 2020 baseball plan. Just try to enjoy what we’ve been given. It’s nice to be able to have some fun.

Sara Sanchez: Yes — Mike Napoli is magic and I don’t have any idea what a Quality Assurance Coach does, but him just being in the dugout and lending his chains to the guys is having an impact. Brilliant hire by Theo.

Al Yellon: I kind of like the old-school afternoon postseason game on Wednesday.

Duane Pesice: YES

Thomas Smith: My employer surely doesn’t. But I’ll be in front of my TV multi-tasking.

Sara Sanchez: Same, Thomas. Day Baseball = Advantage Cubs

Ashley MacLennan: Glad to be WFH lol

Duane Pesice: That’s my office.

Thomas Smith: Exactly!

Al Yellon: Thanks everyone! Go Cubs and hopefully we can do this again in a week or so for the division series.

Duane Pesice: Cheers all.

Sara Sanchez: Sweet! GO CUBS GO!

Ashley MacLennan: Hey Chicago whadaya say...

Thomas Smith: Thanks all. Gotta head back to work. Go Cubs!!