Cubs need offensive spark for success


Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. throws a pitch in the eighth inning of Game one of the NLDS at Washington D.C Friday. Game three will take place 3:08 p.m. Monday at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

By Eddie Garcia

In order for the Chicago Cubs have to have success in the playoffs and the rest of the National League Division Series, they need to score more runs and not rely on the starting pitching performing the way they have thus far.

Starting pitching delivered in the first two games, but the bullpen have not been performing to their abilities.

For the Cubs to get wins on a consistent basis in the playoffs, they can’t rely on pitching and need to put more runs on the board.

The Cubs have only scored three runs in each of the first two games of the series, compared to six by the Washington Nationals in game two Saturday.

The three runs didn’t hold up as the Nationals delivered in the eighth inning of game two. With one out in the eigth inning, Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. threw a pitch that changed the tone of the series entirely.

Edwards Jr. had a 3-1 lead over the Nationals before he released a hanging curve ball on a 3-1 count to one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Harper launched a moon rocket into the right field stands to tie the game.

Harper’s home run ignited the Nationals at the plate as third baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit the game-winning 3-run homer just a few minutes later off of Cubs relief pitcher Mike Montgomery.

Relief pitching was the key in the 6-3 loss in game two Saturday. Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said he still has confidence in Edwards Jr. and would put him back out there if a similar situation occurred later in the series.

“That was the only option. That was the right option. [Edwards Jr.] was the right man for the job,” Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said, according to a Saturday Bleacher Report. “Harper is good, [Edwards Jr.] is really good. [Edwards Jr.’s] numbers against left-handed hitters are among the best in all of baseball.”

The Cubs finished the regular season with a 3.80 bullpen ERA which ranked No. 6 in all of Major League Baseball.

Edwards Jr. and closing pitcher Wade Davis were able to finish out game one, each delivering a solid shutout inning.

In game two, Edwards Jr. made a mistake pitch which cost the Cubs the game. The decision to go to Edwards Jr. went by mere statistics.

Lefties only had a .119 batting average off of Edwards throughout the regular season. Edwards Jr. also leads the Cubs in slugging percentage against lefties, with teams hitting .193 against him this season–much better than the next two in line with Mike Montgomery’s .333 and Brian Duensing’s .381 average.

Lester delivered a quality start as he went six solid innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run.

Despite his struggles later on in the regular season, his performance shouldn’t come as a surprise. Lester has delivered in the postseason countless times before. The left-handed starter has posted a 2.58 ERA in 15 playoff series throughout his career.

Lester came into this game relaxed in large part due to the fact the Cubs were up 1-0 in the series after a dominant performance in game one by starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

In game one of the series, Hendricks tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out six in the 3-0 victory.

The starting pitching has been an asset for the Cubs so far, but they need to score more runs so the game isn’t so heavily reliant on pitching.

The Cubs’ primary hitters are not producing so far this series. The Cubs have not gotten a hit from outfielder Kyle Schwarber, second baseman Javier Baez and outfielder Jason Heyward, according to ESPN. The team only has one hit from outfielder Ben Zobrist and catcher Wilson Contreras.

The Nationals have a ton of scoring power, as they finished the regular season tied for the second highest slugging percentage in the league at .449, along with a .332 on base percentage.

The Cubs need to wake up their bats before it is too late. The team has struck out 21 times and has a batting average of .183 while scoring six runs in the series thus far, according to ESPN.

Max Scherzer pitching in game three does not help at all with the Cubs struggles at the plate. Scherzer is coming off the best year of his professional career, as he recorded a 16-6 overall record with a 2.51 ERA in just over 200 innings pitched.

“You’re happy leaving 1-1 before the series began but you’d really like to be leaving 2-0 leading in the eighth inning; however, that’s not reality,” Maddon said, according to a Saturday Bleacher Report. “The reality is we lost a game, they beat us and we go home at 1-1 and then we have Quintana and [Arrieta] coming up, not bad. Really interesting series. Well played on both sides and I cannot be happier than I am with our guys right now.”

The series heads to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field for games three and four. These are two must win games for the Cubs and their struggling bats.