Note: This article was written after the Marlins-Mets double header on September 27, 2023.
With four games left the National League Wild Card race has three teams fighting for two spots. The Phillies have stood consistently as the man in the middle.
The question on the table is will the Mets and Pirates play spoiler? If so, the other question on the table is will the Cubs have to pitch ace Justin Steele on Sunday to lock up their trip to the playoffs?
Before I answer those questions we should commend Seiya Suzuki for owning his error the other night when asked during the postgame about the error he made in the eight inning when he said, “Ever since I was playing in Japan you do have to take that into consideration…If I do say that then its an excuse so I’m not going to say that.” We already knew he was a class act… this only goes above and beyond to prove that. He does not make excuses when he makes a mistake he simply takes accountability.
Let’s discuss those Marlins, Cubs, and Diamondbacks now as they fight for the last two playoff spots in the National League. The Diamondbacks will be at home facing the Houston Astros who are also fighting for the a playoff spot over in the American League. That series could wind up being very pivotal to determine if the Cubs or Marlins make it as the sixth seed in the National League. Heres why: Not only that series in Arizona but Houston generally has better pitching. Also, don’t forget that Dusty Baker has a ton more experience in games with so much on the line as he proved by leading the ‘stros to back-to-back World Series appearances and the title last season. It is quite possible that the he manages Houston to a sweep against the Florida this weekend, either way though the Astros will win that series and clinch their third straight playoff appearance.
Now… About that Marlins vs Pirates series. There is a good chance the Pirates will play spoiler winning the series since they are hosting the Marlins and they too three of four when the two teams played one another back in June. This would mean the Cubs need to win three of their last four to punch their ticket to a Wild Card Series and likely leave only one question on the table. That question is: Do the Cubs leave Milwaukee to go to back to Atlanta on Tuesday or do they end up with the sixth seed and stay in Milwaukee?
It is worth noting that closer Adbert Alzolay who has been on the Injured List with forearm issues has been out for over two weeks and is expected to return in the next few days. If he does actually return that would help push guys like Jose Cuas back into the role they were in before he was place on the Injured List and should help the Cubs get the three wins they need to make the playoffs, likely as the sixth seed.
Before I sign off it is worth noting that there has been a ongoing conversation over the last two weeks or so happening on Cubs podcasts and local Chicago sports radio that I want to discuss since it relates to the opinion I share with my business partner here on Double Overtime, Steve Leblang, about our fellow writer Gaurav Garg. The conversation revolves around this question: Should David Ross’ job be on the line if the Cubs miss the playoffs and if it is should the job be handed to Joe Girardi?
Here’s the thing folks: The Cubs have over delivered on expectations this season and they’ve done so with mediocre relief pitching at best. That said, Ross was not given a solid set of relievers to work with and Jed Hoyer took accountability for that back in May. Also, is important to note that currently 60% of the Cubs opening day starting rotation is pitching in relief because of the beleaguered bull pen that is mostly dealing with forearm issues. At the end of the day it would not surprise me if the Cubs did go in a different direction parting ways with David Ross after the season ends whether or not they make the playoffs.
However, they will not be hiring Girardi as my fellow writer, Gaurav, would like them to because he has made it extremely clear that he does not want to manage again. If he had not made it clear than multiple members of the media and my business partner Mr. Leblang would not be talking about how tired Joe looks and how he failed to communicate to this generation of players in both New York and Philadelphia. I’ve heard many reporters over the last few months even go as far as to say that he was luck to win the title in 2009 with New York.
What is that opinion I share with Steve you ask? The opinion is that based on the information I have read and heard from local sports reporters that do not work for Marquee Network as well as ESPN reporters our fellow writer is quite uninformed and just wants a member of the family who happens to have much more Managerial experience than Ross to be at the top. Sadly, I believe that if the same errors were being made by players during games and Joe were manager Gaurav would be calling for Girardi to be fired which only proves how uninformed he is.
With that… it is time to continue this nail biting end to the season and play out the string.
If you cannot play with them, root for them!