The New York Mets have seemingly put a damper on the “Back to the Future” prediction talk. They won 5-2 Tuesday against the surprisingly struggling Chicago Cubs. The Cubbies just can’t find a way to cool the bat of Second Baseman David Murphy. Murphy hit another long ball, his 5th in as many games, to dead center field in game three. The pitching of the Mets has completely stopped this young Cubs lineup. Jacob Degrom pitched yet another gem this postseason going 7 innings of 2 run ball. The 5-2 game three win gave the Mets a 3-0 lead on the Cubs.
The bad news for the Cubs is they are down, big. But never say die; in 2004 the Red Sox were in the exact same predicament vs the New York Yankees. down 3-0 they clawed back to win game seven and eventually be crowned World Series Champions. But do the Cubs have the bats and the pitching to make a comeback like that? Winning 4 straight elimination games in the playoffs against a single team is almost an impossible thought. The key for a Cubs comeback is to score early, and score often. They can not be shut out as the Mets hand the ball to one of the hottest relievers left in the game today, Jeurys Familia. If they score early, the rotation definitely has the firepower to hold the Mets lineup down. The key pitching wise is to avoid the big inning. They need to keep the scoring to the minimum in order to win. If they can hold the hot hitting Mets lineup to 2-3 runs a game, the Cubs have a legitimate chance of a comeback to make this a series once again.
It all starts in game four on Wednesday, at 8:07 pm ET on TBS. The Mets will send Steven Matz to the mound. Matz sports a 4-0, 2.27 ERA, and 34 strikeouts for the season. Terry Collins, the Mets manager, believes Matz will be a big part of the starting rotation of the Mets in the future. “He’s got to stay healthy, No. 1,” Collins said. “This guy’s got plus stuff. He’s got a plus fastball. He’s going to be 94 to 97 [mph]. He’s got a plus curveball. He’s got a good changeup. Now it’s a matter of going out there every five days through the course of the season. You look up and there are some things that nag him. … But if this guy runs out there 28 to 30 times, he’s going to win some ballgames for you.” If Matz goes out and pitches a gem in game four, you could see why Collins is so high on him.
In the opposing dugout, the Cubs skipper Joe Maddon has decided to go with the right handed Jason Hammel. Hammel had a 10-7, 3.74 ERA, 172 strikeouts for the season. Hammel started game four of the NLDS vs the Dodgers, giving up four runs in three innings. The Cubs need a bounce back performance to extend their season one more game. Joe Maddon summarized his team’s situation: “We have to win four games obviously now. So it’s not just about tomorrow,” Maddon said after Tuesday’s loss. “If we could, like I said, tomorrow, win that game, get it back to Jon [Lester] and Jake [Arrieta], that’s pretty attractive at that point.” A game four win from Jason Hammel will make things look a lot better for the Cubs as they would get back to the top of their rotation.
The Cubs offense will need to find a way to score more runs against the very hard throwing rotation of the Mets. Kyle Schwarber will need to continue his loud postseason along with contributions and timely hitting from Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler, Starlin Castro, etc. Timely hitting and avoiding the big inning will give the Cubs a shot at the National League Pennant.