If you’d asked any Cubs fan three weeks ago if they thought the team would be battling it out in a Wild Card playoff for the right to continue on in the playoffs, they would never have believed it. The Cubs were atop the National League Central for the majority of the season, and seemed to have put away the pesky Milwaukee Brewers when their lead swelled to four games in mid-September.
While it doesn’t exactly call to light memories of the epic collapse in 1969, the failure to hold onto that division lead this year surely left a sour taste in the mouths of Cubs fans. The Milwaukee Brewers barreled toward the division title, winning their last eight games of the season, including Monday’s tiebreaker game 163 at Wrigley Field. They now await the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between the Cubs and Colorado Rockies, who lost Monday’s NL West tiebreaker at Los Angeles.
The Cubs will have their ace, Jon Lester, taking the mound for them in this win-or-go-home game. Manager Joe Maddon also says that other starters, like Cole Hammels and Kyle Hendricks, will be available out of the bullpen if need be. And it’s a beleaguered bullpen right now, at that. Maddon went through six bullpen pitchers en route to Monday’s 3-1 loss, and are already without the services of top relievers like Brandon Morrow and Carl Edwards due to injury. They will, however, have Pedro Strop back.
Tuesday’s gets underway at 7:05 p.m. The Cubs and Rockies tied their series this year, 3-3. The Rockies finished the season with a 91-72 record.
Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz