Another clincher at Wrigley? The Bucs stop here
We begin the final Cubs homestand of the year tonight as the Pittsburgh Pirates come to Wrigley Field to open a three-game series. The Atlanta Braves celebrated their NL East division title yesterday in the visiting clubhouse. No sooner has the smell of champagne and cigar smoke begun to dissipate than we could have the same situation all over again tonight.
A victory tonight by the Pirates (89-67) and a loss in St. Louis by the Washington Nationals (84-72) would assure the Pirates their first postseason berth since 1992. The Pirates currently have one of the wild-card spots along with the Cincinnati Reds. They’re still trying to catch the Cardinals and win the NL Central. The Cubs finish in St. Louis this weekend, and it’s possible they could witness three celebrations.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum was asked what he’d like to see over this final week.
“I think just guys producing,” he said. “We’re going to see really good pitching the next six days, too, as well you pretty much do all the time now. Those kinds of things. You want to see things. You feel bad for some of the guys having poor years, and you’d like to see them, because it’s been so stressed in the media, you’d like to see something special out of the Castros and Barneys and Rizzo and even the guys we’re evaluating for next year to put a good taste in your mouth going into the winter.”
It’s been an especially rough year for Barney at the plate. He has a hitting line of .209/.268/.306 for an OPS of .574. His OPS-plus is an anemic 56. The weighted on-base average (wOBA) is .253. Since the all-star break, Barney has a line of .191/.261/.251. Although he has a defensive wins against replacement (dWAR) of 1.5, Baseball Reference list his overall WAR as minus-0.5, and Fangraphs has it at 0.3.
Jeff Samardzija starts tonight, and he’ll start the final game of the season Sunday in St. Louis. He is 8-12 with a 4.42 ERA and a WHIP of 1.34. The FIP is 3.80.
Sveum say s he believes it’s important for Samardzija to have a good finish, too.
“I think it’ll be really big,” Dale said. “The one thing Jeff’s done is pitch really good in big games and when there’s some intensity out there. There should be tonight as well as the final day of the season, too. But it’s always important to finish well, even if it’s one start or two starts or even if it’s a hitter and it’s his last 20 at-bats. He might have figured something out. It just makes you feel a heck of a lot better going into the winter.”
The Cubs said catcher Welington Castillo underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee today and that the procedure went as expected. They’re hoping for a 4-6-week recovery period.
From the game notes: With a 30-48 home record and a 35-43 road mark, the Cubs will finish with more victories on the road than at home for the third time in the last 18 seasons since 1996. The 2010 club went 35-46 at Wrigley Field and 40-41 on the road while the 2005 team was 38-43 at home and 41-40 on the road. The Cubs are on pace to finish 31-50 at home. Fifty losses would set a team record. The 1962, 1966 and 1974 clubs each lost 49 games at Wrigley Field … The Cubs are batting .250 at home and .226 on the road. Their 101 home runs at Wrigley Field are their most at home since the 2008 club hit 106 here. This is the eighth time the team has reached 100 home runs at home.