For the first time since the infamous 2003 National League Championship Series matchup, the Chicago Cubs will take on the Miami Marlins within “The Friendly Confines” in this best-of-three series.
No, Steve Bartman will not be in attendance, so the Cubs will have a chance to defeat the Marlins.
The Cubs reached the postseason after clinching in the NL Central title for the first time since 2017.
Offensively, Chicago was dreadful in the 60-game season. They were fourth-worst in batting average at a measly .220, 18th in On-Base Percentage (.318), fifth in strikeouts (568) and 21st in On-base plus slugging (.705).
Jason Heyward led the team in batting average at .265. The Cubs’ stars did not show up in 2020. Anthony Rizzo (.222), Kris Bryant (.206) and Javier Baez (.203) have been embarrassing the loyal fanbase so far this year. Let’s also include that Baez had 75 strikeouts and 7 walks — a blazing ratio of over 10 strikeouts for every walk.
However, the pitching side of things for Chicago was stable. The rotation boasts a stellar one-two punch in Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish. Both men come into the postseason with ERA below 3.00 (2.88 for Hendricks, 2.01 for Darvish). Hendricks only walked eight batters in his 12 starts through the regular season. Alec Mills and Jon Lester will need to be consistent when or if the series is pushed to three games.
On Miami’s side, they are in the playoffs because the Washington Nationals chose to tank following a World Series title, the New York Mets continue to be a dumpster fire and the bullpen of the Philadelphia Phillies hated the City of Brotherly Love.
There’s nothing statistically that stands out about the Marlins. Brandon Kintzler was a shut down closer with 12 saves but the team is average when it comes to offense and the rest of their pitching.
With how mediocre both clubs are offensively, expect a low-scoring series. I see clutch at-bats coming from the likes of Rizzo and Willson Contreras. They will score when they need to and their pitching will take care of the rest. The Marlins are out of their league.
Prediction: Cubs in two