The Cubs (97-55) take on the St. Louis Cardinals (80-72) today at Wrigley Field and can potentially secure home field advantage throughout the National League side of the playoffs with a win. They will also need help – their magic number to clinch is 2 – from the Washington Nationals. Of course, if the Cubs win the next two games against the Cardinals it won’t matter what the Nationals do, since the Cubs are in complete control over when (not if) they clinch best record in the National League.
Jake Arrieta (17-7, 2.96 ERA) will be on the hill for the Cubs today. His second half of 2016 hasn’t been quite as dominant as his second half last year, and that would be a major understatement. Of course, when you compare anyone, including Jake, to his historic 2015 second half, the results aren’t going to be favorable. Jake currently has a 3.42/4.40 ERA/FIP since the All-Star break. Not bad numbers but they aren’t what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him. He’ll be looking to tighten things up heading into the playoffs and that starts with today’s game.
Joe Maddon, again, has a lineup of regulars out there for the Cubs. The exception is Chris Coghlan in left field. He’s filling in for Jorge Soler, who sustained an injury to his right side in a game against the Brewers last Friday. The MRI results for Jorge came back negative so it would appear that Joe is simply exercising caution by continuing to hold Jorge out of the lineup.
Another item to note is that Miguel Montero, who’s been exceptional lately slashing .344/.400/.625 in September, is in today catching for Jake. Right when it looked like Willson Contreras may be taking over the primary catcher’s job from Montero, Miggy started to step up his play. Competition can be a wonderful thing for a team. Heading into the playoffs it will be interesting to see how the catcher situation pans out.
Here’s today’s Chicago Cubs lineup: