Confident Cubs set roster for must-win Wild Card game against Rockies
CHICAGO – No, the season didn’t end when Anthony Rizzo’s fly ball found the glove of Keon Broxton on Monday afternoon in the ninth inning.
It only meant that Milwaukee, not the Cubs, got the chance to celebrate a National League Central Division title after a tiebreaker game victory at Wrigley Field. It was a disappointment sure since their two-year run at the top of the division came to an end, but there would be tomorrow.
But what about after today? That’s completely different now.
Since they didn’t win the NL Central, the Cubs lost their chance to move directly onto the National League Division Series. The Brewers are headed there, and they’ll be waiting to see who comes out of Tuesday’s winner-take-all Wild Card Game Tuesday at the Friendly Confines.
Joe Maddon’s team will face the other squad that lost in their division tiebreaker on Monday – the Rockies – just after 7 PM. “Win or Go Home” is very real for the Cubs now, who have to win to face Milwaukee in the NLDS on Thursday.
“It’s definitely a little different, but that whole narrative switches tomorrow if we win the ballgame,” said Rizzo of the Cubs’ making the postseason for a fourth-straight time yet already face an elimination game on Tuesday. “We’ll be ready to play, it’s all hands on deck tomorrow, figure out how to win.”
The Cubs set their roster for the one-game playoff, and it includes a possible twist.
Closer Pedro Strop, who missed the end of the season with a hamstring strain, is on the active roster for tonight. Whether he pitches or not in relief is to be seen. Reliever Carl Edwards Jr has been left off the Wild Card playoff roster.
Tonight the Cubs face a Colorado team that’s determined to do the same to keep their season alive past the Wild Card round. They were also at this spot in 2017 but saw their season end in a loss to Arizona in the one-game playoff. Bud Black’s team got back there again thanks to a 19-9 September, but they couldn’t finish off the Dodgers in the regular season, necessitating a playoff game Monday.
Los Angeles took care of business on their homefield and beat Colorado 5-2, sending the Rockies to Chicago. Meanwhile the Cubs, who got to bypass the Wild Card playoff with division titles in 2016 and 2017, now face their first one-game playoff since the 2015 season.
Kris Bryant was there when the Cubs knocked off the Pirates 4-0 to pick up their first postseason win in 12 seasons. That Wild Card berth was much more celebrated since the team had missed the playoffs since 2008. It’s a different team and fanbase with bigger goals these days.
“It’s pretty easy for us to turn the page,” said Bryant. “We’ve done it before. Nobody is really panicking. It’s just a different way we have to go about winning. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Or else their hopes for another long October run will die.