Levine: Plenty Of Playoff Roster Questions For Cubs To Ponder

By Bruce Levine–

(CBS) How many pitchers are adequate to quarrel a Nationals’ manly offense? Would a third catcher make sense? Can a 25-man register means a speedy-but-light-hitting outfielder as a partial of a position-player mix?

All of these are questions for a Chicago Cubs to contemplate in a subsequent few days as they prepared for Game 1 on a National League Division Series in Washington D.C. on Friday evening. The makeup of a playoff register can infrequently surprise, as rather problematic players who were brought aboard in Aug can infrequently squeeze a mark from a actor who was a writer for a whole season.

Starting with a Cubs’ rotation, a arrogance as of Monday afternoon was that right-hander Kyle Hendricks and left-hander Jon Lester will start a initial dual games of a array in some order. Doing so would make both accessible to start a intensity winner-take-all Game 5 on full rest, interjection to a dual transport days built into a schedule.

On Wednesday, Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana and right-hander Jake Arrieta are slated to chuck unnatural games. For Quintana, that will be a tuneup for a Game 3 start subsequent Monday or a Game 4 start a day after during Wrigley Field. The Wednesday tour for Arrieta is a some-more critical exam to see how game-ready his right hamstring is after he suffered a aria in early September. Arrieta’s health is where No. 5 starter John Lackey could enter a register equation. The intelligent income is on Lackey being combined to a bullpen in a long-relief purpose and prepared to get dismissed adult should Arrieta run into a health problem or another starter be ineffectual early in a game.

Wade Davis, Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Brian Duensing and Mike Montgomery are thatch to be in a Cubs bullpen. Despite lefty reliever Justin Wilson’s struggles, a Cubs will expected embody him on postseason register as another choice opposite lefty-swinging Nationals sluggers Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. Relievers Justin Grimm and Felix Pena figure to be left off a NLDS roster.

Lackey and Wilson being in a brew would meant a Cubs would lift 12 pitchers and have 5 position players accessible off a bench. Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo are sealed into a infield some-more or less, with Willson Contreras catching.

The outfield is where there will be room for some-more movement. Jason Heyward is an bland player, while a likes of Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ, Albert Almora and Jon Jay quarrel for personification time as well.

With that in mind, a Cubs have a array of decisions to make. They carried 3 catchers in winning a World Series in 2016, and holding usually Contreras and Alex Avila would meant that they’d be reduction expected to bake Avila as a pinch-hitter. But how most use would they get out of Rene Rivera by including him on a roster? It’s value observant too that Schwarber can offer as an puncture catcher.

Another actor on a register burble is outfielder Leonys Martin, a speedster and peculiarity defensive actor who strike only .172 this season. If a Cubs go with only 11 pitchers, he could hide his approach onto a register as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.

If a Cubs go with 12 pitchers, a choice might come down to Martin and infielder Tommy La Stella, both of whom are maladroit bats. If that’s a case, La Stella would expected have a edge, since manager Joe Maddon is a follower that he can get large hits and put together veteran at-bats in tighten games, and a Cubs also have a horde of other outfielders to select from.

This most is certain: The Cubs have many options. On Sunday, Maddon had Heyward in core margin and Zobrist rotating between a span of outfield spots. Their postseason run, however prolonged or short, will expected be noted by that versatility.

Bruce Levine covers a Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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