The 2018 regular season will go just a little longer as the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers will play a tie-breaker game at Wrigley Field on Monday. Both teams finished with a 95-67 record on the final day of the season. Winner will win the division, the loser will play the loser of the other tie-breaker game (Dodgers vs Rockies) in the Wild Card game Tuesday night.
Two tie-breaker games in an era with the Wild Card game (2012-present) is pretty insane. Milwaukee swept both the Cardinals and Tigers while the Cubs finished the season 8-5 in their last four series. Safe to say that the Brewers got scorching hot at the right time, a tough situation for the Cubs. All in all the team will have to win Monday if they want to go straight to the NLDS.
12:05 at Wrigley, the Cubs will send Jose Quintana to the mound. Quintana has a 1.60 ERA against the Brewers with a 0.817 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 67.1 innings in his career. This was no surprise to Cubs fans with his numbers against the Brewers being so good and it was his turn in the rotation anyway. In five of his six starts against the Brewers in 2018, he has given up two runs or less. He had just one bad start against them on August 14th when Ryan Braun tagged him for multiple home runs.
As a whole the Cubs went 11-8 against Milwaukee, but they went 2-4 against them in the final two series. It went from Cubs domination early to the Brewers turning the tide later in the season. But this one game is all that matters right now.
My projected lineup:
- Murphy (2B)
- Zobrist (RF)
- Baez (SS)
- Rizzo (1B)
- Bryant (3B)
- Schwarber (LF)
- Heyward (CF)
- Contreras (C)
In a game like this, Ben Zobrist absolutely has to be in there. He has arguably been the best pure hitter on the squad this year, and Heyward can play in center with Almora on the bench to come in later for defense. If the Cubs are up late, obviously expect Murphy to come out for defense, but his bat has to be in there. The Cubs will have their expanded roster, and it is very deep, it will be used to their advantage.
Biggest area the Brewers have the upper hand is their bullpen. Josh Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress have been absolutely lights out all year and trailing after six innings does not end well often for teams. On paper the Cubs have had a great bullpen throughout the year, but Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop are out. Not to mention Carl Edwards Jr’s recent struggles and Steve Cishek showing some fatigue after being used in nearly 80 games. Right now the most reliable Cubs reliever is probably Jesse Chavez, but they will probably need more than just him to step up. If Quintana gives 6-7 solid innings then they will have to rely on Chavez, Cishek, Edwards and/or Justin Wilson no doubt to close things out.
Overall, the Cubs have a key advantage and that is home field. This would be an even tougher game if it were at Miller Park, but having home field in baseball is like no other. It will be a tough game, but we should all believe in the Cubs ability to rise up in the biggest games. They have done it so well the past four years.