After losing to the Dodgers in 5 games in the NLCS, it’s time for the Cubs to rest and reload
The Los Angeles Dodgers brought the Cubs defense of their 2016 World Series title to a screeching halt after a whooping 11-1 Game 5 win last Thursday night. The win closed out the NLCS and gave the Dodgers their first National League Pennant in 29 years....remember Kirk Gibson?
Let the record show that I’m one of those guys who lives under the “championship or nothing” act. However, in this case, even though the club fell short of the overall goal--it wasn't a lost season. It showed the grit and fight that it takes to play baseball into October for three straight years. The season started off very slow, going into the All-Star break with a lackluster 43-45 record and down 5.5 games to the first place Milwaukee Brewers. But after they shook the cobwebs off, they made a huge turnaround in the second half and were playing like defending Champions. The Cubs ended up going 49-25 to close the season and finished 6.0 games ahead of the second place “Brew Crew.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he purposely kept his foot off the gas early in an effort to keep players fresh so they wouldn't catch those end of the season blues. Those guys played more baseball than anyone over the last 3 years and it was evident in the Washington Nationals NLDS series. It took just about everything they had to muster a 3-2 series win and they left it all on the field in D.C. When Kris Bryant admitted to the series being draining and some of the guys being tired, I knew it was all but over. The Dodgers came in and handled their business accordingly and here we are.
Pitching coach Chris Bosio was let go a day after Theo Epstein said Joe Maddon would return any coach he wanted. Bosio was the first coach hired by Epstein in 2012 and the first to go under Maddon's regime. He was responsible for Jake Arrieta's rise and Kyle Hendricks development, but his relationship with Joe wasn't sturdy. Control and bullpen issues likely pushed the situation over the edge as Epstein said "the pitching peaked the last 3 weeks of the season but didn't deliver in October."
The Cubs were fourth in the league in runs scored (422) but only managed to cross the plate 8 times in the 5 games series vs LA. There was no small ball and no manufacturing anything. Every run came off of the long ball. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo went cold as ice, hitting .200 and .135 respectively in 10 playoff games. Javier Baez had the roughest time of all. “El Mago” hit .076 (2-26) as his mind was on his family and his people affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. "Before the playoffs, I was so ready to go home. I finally got to bring my mom over here. Once the season is over, I will go home and take care of my people," Baez said.
Theo, Jed and the staff are faced with some tough decisions this offseason. With 8 free agents, bench coach Dave Martinez likely on the move for a managerial position, Jake Arrieta looking for max bread and some much needed arms, it's safe to say more changes are on the horizon for the Cubs.