The Layover: Reds at Cubs Series Preview

 vs. 

RECORDS: Reds 67-92   Cubs 90-62

GAMETIMES: Friday 1:20, Saturday 3:05, Sunday 2:20

TV: CSN Friday and Saturday, WGN Sunday

STUCK WITH DALTON: Blog Red Machine

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Stephenson v. Quintana

Stephens v. Lester?

McGuire v. Arrieta?

After hilariously dumping the Cardinals out of any playoff race, and doing so last night with the hangover lineup and trying their best to not use anyone who matters, the Cubs will wait in the airport lounge this weekend before heading off to the games that really matter on Friday. It might look a lot like last night, with the Cubs trotting out all the call-ups and bench players. Sprinkled into that will be some regulars just tuning up or trying to find it before they’re called upon for their best in a week’s time.

Really, the only thing the Cubs are going to be paying attention to are the starts tomorrow and Sunday, and that’s if Arrieta makes the start on Sunday which it didn’t sound like he was to keen on in an interview on the Score yesterday.

For the Cubs to go anywhere in the playoffs, they’ll need Arrieta and Lester near their best. Lester looked better in his start on Monday in St. Louis, though hardly vintage. He won’t get more than four or five innings tomorrow but it would do everyone’s psyche a world of good if he was hitting his spots and his curve has a little more bite to it. It’s not just that it’s the playoffs next week, but that the Nats might have the fiercest lineup the Cubs have ever seen in a postseason series. Anything that’s off is going to be ripped open into a pouring wound by that team.

Arriet is going the other way. He looked ok in his first start back from the DL and while he wasn’t helped by his defense in St. Louis his stuff did not look sharp. He’s changed his delivery, he’s more upright, and he’s pretty much admitted he came back too soon and his hammy isn’t quite there. Maybe that’s made better by resting altogether, and if he were to pitch Game 3 that would be nearly two weeks of rest between starts. But how does that affect sharpness? Especially with a delivery he’s clearly tinkered with? I’m glad I’m not the one who needs to answer these questions, but I think I’d like to see Arrieta throw at least a few innings on Sunday just for the sake of staying on top of his stuff. But if he thinks he just needs to sit, fine by me.

Seeing as how the Cubs don’t know what they’ll get exactly out of either of those two, it makes sense to have Hendricks throw one of the first two games in DC. You don’t want to put two question marks back to back and then have them both go balls-up and be coming home 0-2. Or you could save them both and throw both of your surer things first, but this is a debate for next week. I’m sure if the Cubs had their druthers they’d get four innings out of both Lester and Arrieta this weekend and then know what they have a little better.

Other than that it’s basically an exercise in getting some bench players ABs, like La Stella and Zobrist and Schwarber and Happ and Heyward, as all of them could be bench players in the playoffs. Or none of them. We have no idea. It’s also about getting no one hurt. So Willson, you just jog down to first, ok buddy?

Let’s all relax before the real fun starts. You’re going to need the energy.

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