Is this the year for the Cubs? Or Will the Giants play the role of the goat?

Joe Clark

On Friday night at Wrigley Field, there will be palpable buzz in the air. It will be the first time in forever that they’re considered World Series favorites. Not since 1908, when Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown pitched the Cubs past the Detroit Tigers have they won a World Series. Now, with a core anchored by Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs are legitimate World Series contenders. They’ll have a tough task in the Giants though, as Madison Bumgarner is one of the best postseason pitchers ever, and a lineup featuring Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford can’t be counted out. This will be a great series, and probably one of the two best Divisional Series.


Let me preface this by saying the Giants have a really good rotation. Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija are all really good pitchers. But this isn’t really close. The Cubs have the two best pitchers in the NL and Jake Arrieta. You simply can’t beat that. When your #3 starter can go pound for pound with your opponents #1, you have the best rotation in baseball, and that’s what the Cubs have. Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA, 170 K) and Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA, 197 K) have been in the two best pitchers in the NL (And probably the MLB) this season, and Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA, 190 K) as the Cubs 3rd starter is insane considering he was considered one of, if not the best, pitchers in baseball coming into this season. FA signing John Lackey (11-8, 3.35 ERA, 180 K) will be the Cubs 4th starter this postseason, and he’s a good postseason pitcher (8-5, 3.11 ERA, 2002 WS MVP). Him and Lester (7-6, 2.63 ERA in postseason) were instrumental in helping the Red Sox win the 2013 World Series. While Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74 ERA, 251 K) and Cueto (18-5, 2.79 ERA, 198 K) can hold their own, the Cubs hold the advantage in this category. Advantage: Chicago


The Cubs biggest weakness heading into July was their bullpen, and they shored it up in a big way, acquiring Aroldis Chapman and Mike Montgomery. Chapman and Montgomery join Trevor Cahill, Pedro Strop, and Travis Wood to form the meat of what is now a talented Cubs bullpen. The Giants bullpen isn’t particularly strong, led by Derek Law, Hunter Strickland, and Santiago Castilla. Unlike in the past even years where the Giants have won the World Series (2010, 2012, 2014) they don’t have a dominant bullpen, and that will hurt them in this series. Advantage: Chicago


Just like their rotation, the Giants lineup isn’t bad. Buster Posey (112 OPS+), Brandon Belt (132 OPS+), and Hunter Pence (115 OPS+) are all very good hitters. The problem is that the Cubs have a stellar lineup. Anthony Rizzo (146 OPS+) and Kris Bryant (149 OPS+) are the two NL MVP favorites (Bryant will likely end up winning), and Dexter Fowler (126 OPS+), Ben Zobrist (124 OPS+), are all well above average, and Willson Contreras and David Ross (125 and 109 OPS+) are two of the better offensive catchers in baseball. Brandon Crawford is maybe slightly better offensively than Addison Russell, and Hunter Pence has Jason Heyward beat with the bat (although Heyward is better defensively), but outside of that the Giants don’t really have any distinct offensive advantage. The Cubs are just that good. Advantage: Chicago


I think Madison Bumgarner will pitch well enough to help the Giants steal Game 3. Cubs in 4.