MLB: NLCS-New York Mets at Chicago Cubs-Workouts

Playoff Prospectus: NLCS Game Three Preview

This piece, by BP’s Mike Giannella, is the Cubs-specific portion of a longer LCS preview jointly written with Chris Mosch. We’ve posted Mike’s section by itself here; if you’d like to bone up on your ALCS knowledge, head over to the full piece here. We hope you enjoy.

After taking the first two games in New York, the Mets will try to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the NLCS while the Cubs will try to get back into the series with a win at Wrigley Field. Game Three features what looks like a pitching mismatch on paper, with Jacob deGrom (4.5 WARP) taking the hill for New York against Cubs’ hurler Kyle Hendricks(2.5 WARP). Despite the possible pitching gap, PECOTA favors the Cubs to win their first game of the series, but in order for that to happen Chicago’s heralded lineup is going to have to get back on track against yet another 95+ mph flamethrower.

Mets (Jacob deGrom) at Cubs (Kyle Hendricks), 8:00 pm ET

PECOTA odds of winning: Cubs 54%, Mets 46%

Projected Starting Lineups:

Mets vs. Hendricks (R) Cubs vs. deGrom (R)
Curtis Granderson (L) RF Dexter Fowler (L) CF
David Wright (R) 3B Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
Daniel Murphy (L) 2B Kris Bryant (R) 3B
Yoenis Cespedes (R) CF Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
Lucas Duda (L) 1B Starlin Castro (R) 2B
Travis D’Arnaud (R) C Jorge Soler (R) RF
Michael Conforto (L) LF Miguel Montero (L) C
Wilmer Flores (R) SS Javier Baez (R) SS
Jacob deGrom (L) P Kyle Hendricks (R) P

Injury/Availability Notes: Both teams are without their starting shortstops for the NLCS. Addison Russell (hamstring) could be available if the Cubs advance to the World Series while Ruben Tejada (leg) is out until 2016. Although there has been some talk of flipping Duda and Conforto in the lineup, the Mets aren’t likely to mess with success and will probably roll with the same lineup in Game Three that they typically use against right-handers. Joe Maddon is generally more willing to fiddle with his batting order than Terry Collins is but he is likely to go with the alignment above, which is the Cubs’ “typical” lineup against RHP of late (absent Russell). Chris Coghlan started on Sunday because of prior success against Noah Syndergaard but should be back on the bench. Tommy La Stella could start at second with Castro moving to short if Maddon wants to opt for another left-handed bat against the righty-killer deGrom.

Outlook: If there is a silver lining for the Cubs tonight, it is that the deGrom, who dominated the National League for the first four months of the regular season, struggled somewhat down the stretch, posting a 3.48 ERA from August 1st onward. He dominated against the Dodgers in Game One of the NLDS, then managed to push past a rough start to put up solid performance in the Game Five clincher. While deGrom showed that he can perform capably without his elite stuff, the Cubs lineup is more formidable than the Dodgers’ lineup is, and it could be a long night for the Mets if deGrom has difficulties with his command in the zone like he did last Thursday. DeGrom is slightly more mortal against left-handers, so Fowler, Rizzo, and Montero will all be key matchups to watch.

Hendricks twirled a six-inning masterpiece against the Mets at Citi Field on June 30th, but comparing the Mets’ pre-deadline lineup to its post-deadline one is like comparing a Cezanne to your five-year-old’s scribblings. Hendricks will need to keep the Mets off balance with his off-speed stuff, particularly his bread-and-butter changeup. His results against the Cardinals in the NLDS were mixed, as he struck out seven but allowed three solo shots before being removed with two outs in the fifth inning. Maddon will ride Hendricks if he is performing, but with the specter of a 3-0 deficit looming, Maddon won’t be afraid to ride the bullpen early if Hendricks isn’t generating strikes and groundballs right out of the gate.

Lead photo courtesy Jerry Lai—USA Today Sports.

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