The Mets held serve in an impressive way against the Cubs at Citi Field over the weekend, winning both games despite Chicago starting its two aces; Jon Lester, in Game 1, and NL Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta, in Game 2. The Mets will now send their ace, Jacob deGrom, up to the mound for Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night (TBS, 8 p.m.) as they look to take a stranglehold on the series.
DeGrom started Games 1 and 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers and won both contests, allowing just two runs combined. Both of those runs came in Game 5 as he struggled in the first inning before allowing just two hits in his next five frames. DeGrom faced the Cubs twice during the regular season and lost both games. He allowed four runs in each contest with six total walks.
Despite being down 2-0 in the series and facing one of the best pitchers in the game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is not worried.
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“DeGrom’s very good, but we’re very good also at the plate,” Maddon told reporters. “We have a lot of confidence in our players and our hitters.”
The Cubs did not appear to be playing from a position of confidence when they intentionally walked the red-hot Daniel Murphy to face Yoenis Cespedes in the third inning of Game 2. Nonetheless, Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs in Game 3, and one would have to say that the Mets have a distinct advantage in the starting pitching department right now. Hendricks was 8-7 with a 3.95 ERA in the regular season but he rarely went past the sixth inning (just six times in 29 starts). In his one start against the Mets this year he tossed six shutout innings on just 90 pitches as the Cubs went on to win 1-0. But as we have already seen, the Cubs winning the season series 7-0 over the Mets has meant little in predicting the outcome of this series. That’s mainly because the Mets’ biggest bats (Travis d’Arnaud, David Wright and Cespedes) did not play in any of those games.
Much has been made of Mets not named Murphy or Curtis Granderson failing at the plate this postseason, but the Cubs have also had trouble generating offense in the playoffs. Chicago stars Kris Bryant (.185), Anthony Rizzo (.167), and Starlin Castro (.192) have all had difficulty getting hits in October. Only Jorge Soler (.455) and Javier Baez (.500) could be considered to be on a hot streak, but they haveve only had 21 at-bats between them. Maddon’s lineups have already been called into question by Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom, who pointed out that Bryant should not have batted third in the lineup in Citi Field to start the NLCS, citing that he hit just five of his 26 home runs away from Wrigley Field and that his OPS is 400 points lower on the road than at home.