Can you imagine the pressure the Cubs would have had coming back to Chicago tied with the Giants? They were two errors from a guy who committed only 11 errors all season away from having a deciding game five.
This is a really tough series to predict, in my opinion. I think the Dodgers have under performed this year. I know they had the issues with Kershaw being injured. And during that time everyone stepped up. Puig had a really big issue (demotion) but he seems to be back – whether or not he’s playing to potential remains to be seen.
The Cubs on the other hand, are the Cubs. They have over 100 years of negativity and the expectations of a fan base they are trying to overcome that is probably higher than the Patriot’s undefeated bid and the 2004 Red Sox combined.
These teams played seven times this season, with Chicago taking the series advantage, 4-3. Games were competitive, including three shutouts (Two by LA). Despite having experience from a veteran standpoint, both teams are in somewhat uncharted territory playing in the NLCS.
It comes down to only a few things. Both teams rely on the big play. I’ve listened to probably 40 games for each team this year, and it’s been big home runs, top notch pitching and solid fielding that have kept them competitive. Not surprising, those are keys to every winning team. But in the playoffs, sequencing is huge. And both teams have the pitching to screw up sequencing. (What I mean is, you might get four batters in a row to go 2-4, but if they don’t get those hits in the same inning, you get shut out.) AND, both teams have relied on one to two big innings of sequencing all season.
Now Chicago scored a lot of runs this year, and I think the LAD pitchers can neutralize some of the Cubs’ power. But based on their season averages, the Dodgers rely on that second and third time through the order to really put up some production. Again, sequencing will be huge.
On paper it’s a pretty even series. But I give the edge to Chicago. I think managerial staff will have a huge play in this, too, and Madden has proven to be in a league of his own. I hate the Cubs. I hope the Dodgers win. I hope it goes seven games to make Cubs fans sweat. But I begrudgingly pick the Chicago Cubs to meet Cleveland in the World Series.