The Rundown: Cubs Advance to NLCS, Opponent TBD, Russell Day-to-Day, Schwarber Called His HR

Still pretty hard to believe, but the Cubs have defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

The NLCS begins Saturday, but we don’t know the Cubs’ opponent yet, as the Dodgers beat the Mets last night to extend that series to a fifth game. This is good news for the Cubs, since both teams will have to burn another starting pitcher while the Cubs can set up their top two starters right off the bat.

The deciding game will take place Thursday night, and it should be a great pitching matchup: Zack Greinke against Jacob deGrom.

Thankfully we can sit back and wait to discover the Cubs’ opponent, and not have to sweat out a Game 5 against the Cardinals.

So who will the Cubs go with in Game 1 of the NLCS? Jake Arrieta seems like the obvious choice, but Jon Lester hasn’t pitched since Friday and was scheduled to take the ball on Thursday in a Game 5 against the Cardinals. The Cubs can’t really go wrong with either choice, I don’t think.

Will Russell be ready?

Addison Russell missed yesterday’s game with an injured hamstring, and Joe Maddon said Russell likely wouldn’t have been in there on Thursday, according to Gordon Wittenmyer.

It doesn’t sound like the injury is too serious, but Russell dealt with a hamstring injury last year while in the A’s organization. So we’ll see if these three days will be enough rest for the young shortstop.

Meanwhile, his replacement, Javier Baez, had a pretty good game yesterday. Batting ninth, Baez went 2-for-3 with his first career playoff home run and three RBIs. Not a terrible fill-in.

How about that bullpen?

With Jason Hammel lasting only until the 4th inning, the Cubs bullpen was relied on heavily once again yesterday.

Seven relievers combined to throw 6 innings, giving up two runs and striking out 13.

Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and Fernando Rodney all played a big role — all guys who were basically acquired for nothing. The Cubs front office certainly deserves a lot of credit for constructing this team with a ton of young, cost-controlled talent. But it also made a lot of midseason acquisitions that were very low-risk and that ended up working out.

Not all of them did (Rafael Soriano, Yoervis Medina, to name a couple), but a lot of the flyers have turned out to be worthwhile.

Other news

* Kyle Schwarber admits that he called his mammoth home run:

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* That home run? It reportedly landed on top of the right-field video board. (Not that you could tell from the awful TBS camera work.)

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