Game 2 is today at 2:00, and with a win, the Marlins will upset the three-seeded Cubs and advance to play the Braves in the NLDS. As unlikely as it seemed, Miami just keeps winning in the playoffs. However, the Marlins suffered a huge blow when Starling Marte was hit on the hand. Today’s matchup will pit two of the most interesting pitchers in the majors against each other — Sixto Sanchez and Yu Darvish. This game’s out of Atlanta’s control, but who should they want to see in the next round?
These aren’t your 2016 Cubs. Chicago used to torture Atlanta after they arose from their rebuild, but Atlanta has overtaken them as the primary young threat in the NL to the Dodgers.
Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo are all having career-worst years. Their .213 batting average at Wrigley is the worst in their franchise’s history, and their .226 mark on the road isn’t much better. Luckily for the Cubs, Yu Darvish is back with a vengeance and finally making good on his six-year, $126 million deal, and Kyle Hendricks was excellent again this season, finishing with a 2.88 ERA. Their bullpen is improved too, leading to a jump in team ERA from 20th to 9th.
The Cubs are a lot like the Reds, with one caveat. Hendricks’ last three starts in the playoffs have not been great. He’s given up a combined seven runs over 12.2 innings along with 14 hits (3 HRs) and four walks. Yu Darvish’s postseason struggles are well-documented as well. After finally getting the playoff monkey off his back in the National League Divisional & Championship rounds in 2017, he was shelled for four runs in Game 3 of the World Series against the *Astros (on the road, take that for what it’s worth) and five runs in 1.2 innings of a do or die Game 7. With Chicago’s lineup looking as lost as they are, I’d prefer to meet them over the Marlins, but I don’t think they’ll get past Miami.
What else is there to say about the Marlins? They’re a familiar foe, and that makes me very nervous. No Starling Marte helps the Braves a lot, and Max Fried handled them — Atlanta won all three of his starts against the Fish. However, Miami is a team with a lot of sneaky offensive firepower. Kind of ironic when the other side put up 29 runs on them in a game this season, but I think the Marlins are a scary team.
Sixto Sanchez is filthy, he threw six shutout innings in his first game against the Braves, but Atlanta tagged him for four earned runs in his last start of the season. Until 2020, Atlanta dominated Miami at every step. The Marlins have closed the gap, but there’s no reason Atlanta can’t handle either of these teams.