NL Wild Card Game Preview

jon lester
The Cubs are handing the ball to Jon Lester in a must-win game. (Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

The NL Wild Card Game this season will take us to Wrigley Field for a matchup of the Cubs hosting the Rockies for the right to play the Brewers in the NLDS. Most didn’t expect the Cubs to be in this game and it took an eight-game winning streak by the Brewers to end the season for the Cubs to be in this game. The Rockies had chances to close out the NL West, but they were unable to do so and then lost a tie-breaking game 163 to the Dodgers.

In this game the Cubs are leaning on the veteran Jon Lester to try and get them to the NLDS and turning to Lester in a must-win game has never been a bad thing for whatever team Lester has been a part of.

Facing that Rockies lineup though will be no easy task as this lineup is among the deepest in all of baseball. They are headlined by Nolan Arenado, but they also have guys like Trevor Story and Ian Desmond. It will be interesting to watch Lester maneuver his way through this lineup.

The Rockies are going with their ace in Kyle Freeland. During the regular season Freeland won 17 games and posted an ERA of 2.85. Freeland only has one career start at Wrigley Field and he pitched pretty solidly in that game, which is an encouraging thing if you’re a Rockies fan. Freeland also only gave up 17 home runs this season, which is pretty good considering his home field is Coors Field.

Another big thing is that Freeland performs better in night games than he does in day games.

When it comes to Freeland facing the Cubs’ lineup, I think we’ll get a good feel for how well he will pitch against them, because the Cubs’ lineup tends to be all-or-nothing most of the time.

Overall, I see this game being pretty close and coming down to the bullpens, which would lead you to heavily lean in favor of the Cubs. The Cubs bullpen hasn’t been as lights out as usual at the end of the season, but overall they do lead the National League in bullpen ERA, while the Rockies rank 13th in the National League. I know Colorado plays at Coors Field for half of their games, but that’s not the only thing you can blame for that.

I think the Chicago bullpen being better, combined with the presence of a veteran ace in Jon Lester and the Cubs being at home, leads me to think they will win (but since it’s baseball that of course means the Rockies will win).

Pick: Cubs

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