MLB Column: The potential for the most unlikely matchup

Chicago Cubs players celebrate after winning Game 4 in baseball's National League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Chicago. The Cubs won 4-6. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Tuesday night the Chicago Cubs clinched the NLDS with their 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4. That’s something the baseball world would laugh at had it been said back in April. Chicago hasn’t had a winning season since 2008. The Cubs now await the news of their opponent for the NLCS, dependent on Game 5 on the other side of the NLDS.

Thursday night, the New York Mets will travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers. The teams split the series with 2 a piece. Game 5’s are my favorite games in the playoffs, that is when my team isn’t involved. If my team is in the playoffs, I want four hard-fought games, but not the tension and stress that comes from deciding game fives.

Towards the end of the regular season, I found myself on the Mets bandwagon. This team transformed throughout the season, and they were fun to watch. Now, like many others, I’m also rooting for Chicago. My recent taking to the Cubs isn’t just out of sympathy for their lack of winning seasons and championships, but like the Mets, they have been fun to watch. Whether it is pitcher Jake Arrieta, catcher Kyle Schwarber’s power hitting (most recently his out of park Game 4 homer), or the young Cubs Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo; Chicago has become increasingly exciting. 

It was especially exciting to watch them beat “the best team in MLB,” the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals did have an impressive season; I’ll give them that. In the regular season, they won 100 of the 162 games played. They likely went into playoffs confident to come out on top, especially against a team that hasn’t won a championship since 1908. But guess what, the 2015 Cubs aren’t the same as in previous years. They’re young, they’re fast, they hit and pitch well and they’re not stopping yet.  

In the event that the Mets defeat the Dodgers in Game 5, the Mets will play Chicago on Saturday. Read that again. Depending on the outcome of Game 5, the New York Mets will play the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the NLCS. It’s about time these two teams made it this far in the playoffs. It’s refreshing to see new teams in the playoffs, instead of the same old teams showing up year after year. 

If it comes to the Mets versus Cubs, I’m taking the Cubs for three reasons. The first reason, and what many considered the Cubs downfall is how young their team is. Cubs first baseman, Anthony Rizzo (26) and catcher Kyle Schwarber (22) have been essential to the Cubs lineup. Rizzo has hit two homeruns and had two RBI’s this postseason, while Schwarber has posted three homers, as well as five RBI’s. 

The next reason is Cubs pitching. Arguably the Mets have one of the best rotations in the league. Pitchers such as deGrom, Harvey, and Syndergaard put up some of the best ERA’s this season. With the forced Game 5, the Mets are using one of their best, deGrom, in Thursday’s game, which means he won’t immediately be available to play over the weekend. The Cubs on the other hand, have more time to rest their aces. A potential Cy Young Award recipient, Jake Arrieta, and a two-time World Series champ, Jon Lester sounds like a pretty reliable combo to me.

The final reason the Cubs will win is motivation. Sure every team has been motivated since preseason to win a championship. But nobody is as hungry as the Cubs. Imagine your team not winning a series for over a hundred years. Their recent run has been powerful and motivating for the team. Tuesday nights win was the first time in franchise history that the Cubbies won a playoff series at Wrigley Field. Chicago is full of hyped fans as well as players, and that momentum will help take them far.

While I think the Cubs will pull it off, I’d be happy if either the Cubs or Mets advance. Both teams incredibly deserve the win, and both are due for a championship. All I can hope is that the Mets shutdown the Dodgers in Game 5, and create a NLCS matchup nobody could have dreamed of back in April.


Molly Burkhardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached atmary.burkhardt@uconn.edu.