As Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and the rest of the Chicago Cubs begin their bid for the franchise's first World Series championship in, um, one year - not quite the same panache to it as "more than a century", eh? - they'll take on Bryce Harper's Washington Nationals, a club with a brief history of postseason failures. The Cubs' rotation hasn't been what it was in 2016, but when it clicked this year, it clicked because Arrieta was healthy and rolling. As far as game two goes, we are getting the team in much better form with the pitcher in better form at plus money.
After Strasburg dazzled and dominated during his first 52 pitches, the game shifted on his next several as the Cubs seized a rare opportunity on a night when the right-hander was nearly unhittable.
Many expected the news considering Strasburg's performance during the season and the lingering hamstring issue with Max Scherzer, who injured it during his final start of the regular season.
Chicago isn't entirely without injury concerns of its own, as Jake Arrieta's status for the series is in question. Despite an up-and-down Cubs season, manager Joe Maddon says he's confident in his players. Both Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs and Stephen Strasburg of the National were dealing early.
This season, Scherzer went 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA in 31 starts, his lowest total since 2010. Surprisingly, this will only be Strasburg's second career postseason start. His fastball topped out at 89 miles per hour (slower than Strasburg's changeup), but he kept Washington's batters off balance and allowed only two hits through seven innings. Strasburg ended the inning on a half-swing groundout to first base. They're a patient team and a powerful team, coming in second in the NL in walks and finishing one dinger off the league lead in homers.
Even though Hendricks has had success as of late and will be the starter for game one, the Cubs main focus for acquiring Lester back in the 2014 off-season was the playoffs and the experience he brings. The Nationals seemingly haven't played a meaningful game since June, after they raced out ahead in the NL East.
This year, Baez was front and center in a different way, helping the Cubs open the postseason with a win. Washington's lineup has the flawless balance of power and speed. But with the bats the Nationals have in their lineup it wasn't a stretch to think they'd hit Hendricks hard. He has made four postseason starts in three series without a decision.More news: Steve Smith returns from India tour to give Australia fresh fitness scare
The Nationals are down 1-0 after losing in the first round of the playoffs in three previous showings. No National League team has won back-to-back World Series since the Big Red Machine in 1975-76.
"I can't speak for what he was like last year, but I know this year if he throws a pitch and he doesn't feel like it's up to his standards, he's going to throw the same pitch the next time", Wieters explained.
And after Friday night, maybe Dusty Baker should place a call to FEMA. You'll need to log-in with your cable or satellite info to access this content.
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The playoffs are not about revenge for Turner, who hit.284 with 11 homers this year.