Could the Miami Marlins end up being the Chicago Cubs 2020 kryptonite?
Before the Cubs lost to the Marlins in Game 1 of the 2020 Wild Card series 5-1 on Wednesday, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers called into The Dan Dakich Show to preview Chicago’s initial playoff opponent. Miami, who is now owned by MLB Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter, has been ridiculed since he bought the team because of personnel decisions including shipping Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers and Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees for next to nothing in return.
Even though those moves were brutally bad in the end for the Marlins, a young group of pitchers and an experienced Manager in Don Mattingly are making early postseason life on the Cubs very difficult. After going 57-105 in 2019 and finishing dead last in the National League East, Miami has nothing to lose.
“I’ve been saying since the matchups were set that what scares me about the Marlins is nothing scares me about the Marlins,” Rogers explained. “They’re not top ten in pitching or hitting, but they do a bunch of things well and have taken up a fighting attitude under Don Mattingly. If the Cubs overlook this team for a minute, they will get beat”
Kyle Hendricks fought some command issues early in his start on Wednesday, but was able to make it through six clean innings even though he walked three batters. He had walked just eight batters in 81.1 innings this regular season. The lone piece of run support he received was from Ian Happ, who went opposite field and smashed a solo home run off of Sandy Alcantara in the bottom of the 5th.
David Ross sent Hendricks back out to start the 7th inning, and that’s when things took a turn. Corey Dickerson smacked a three-run bomb to get the Marlins on the board making it 3-1. That was followed by another home run from Jesus Aguilar off of Jeremy Jeffress after Hendricks departed. Chicago was unable to touch the Marlins bullpen late, and Miami is one win away from the National League Division Series.
But who stands in their way?
NL Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish.
“You might need your bullpen in a Darvish start because of his (high) pitch counts,” Rogers said. “But Darvish pitched Friday and a lot of times you want to give your starter an extra day of rest coming into the playoffs so he got that extra day.”
Darvish’s 2020 has been a noteworthy one with an 8-3 record and a minuscule 2.01 ERA. The 34-year-old has punched out 93 batters in 76 innings pitched. The Cubs will need Darvish at his best on Thursday. Closer Craig Kimbrel also did not throw in Game 1, so he would be a likely candidate to pitch late in Game 2.
First pitch on Thursday is set for 2:00 PM from Wrigley Field on ABC.
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