This year’s National League Wild Card race has seen quite a few twists, and this latest turn of events puts several MLBbros in each other’s crosshairs for the final few weeks of the season.
The Chicago Cubs have lost control of the second WC spot that they once held by a three-game lead over Tommy Pham and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After going 2-8 in their last 10 ball games, Marcus Stroman and the Cubs now find themselves staring down Jazz Chisholm Jr and the streaking Miami Marlins for the final spot.
Hunter Greene and the Cincinnati Reds have managed to wiggle their way back into the picture as well and sit just a half game back of the Cubs and Marlins headed into Monday’s slate of games.
Let’s take a look at how we got to this point.
Stroman Looks to Stop Bleeding
Marcus Stroman was a key piece in the Cubs rotation, going 10-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 23 starts this season for the North Siders before he went down with inflammation in his right hip along with a rib cartilage fracture.
Stroman garnered early Cy Young consideration, but the injuries would cause his performance to drop off before he went to the IL. Now, with his team looking for something to spark one final push for the stretch run, Stroman is ready to do whatever it takes to help his team win.
And yes, that includes going to the Pen.
“Marcus has a proven track record, and getting him back was an important step,” said Cubs manager David Ross. “He’s on a journey to try and build back up, but right now, he’ll help us out in the bullpen. Then we’ll read and react and see how everything goes these last couple weeks.”
His first outing out of the bullpen was a solid one, going two scoreless in a tough loss against Tommy Pham and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jazz Heats Up Little Havana
Meanwhile down in Miami, Chisholm and the Marlins have been playing inspired baseball of late. MIami has won six of their last 10 games, including a sweep of Michael Harris II and the Atlanta Braves over the weekend.
Miami took advantage of Ronald Acuna Jr being out with calf tightness the final two games, and Jazz made sure of it. Chisholm became the first player in the clubs 32-year history to hit a grand slam in consecutive games, hitting one in the 8th inning of game two and then again in the third inning of game three.
“Our team is here to fight,” Chisholm said. “I don’t care about the team we go up against because I know my team is going to go out there and battle every single pitch. I felt every pitch today, and everybody was ready.”
Over his last 15 games has hit .286 with four homers, 12 RBI and a .915 OPS. They have a three-game set with Minnesota that on paper stands to be their toughest test the rest of the season, although the inconsistent Mets will have an opportunity to play spoiler to their division rival.
Greene and the Reds Lurking
The media frenzy around rookie Elly De La Cruz may have quieted, but this young ball club is still looking to make waves come postseason. Now Cincy may be 5-5 in their last 10 ball games, but of all the teams vying for the final WC spot they have the easiest remaining schedule.
Can Hunter Greene and Cincy finally give those fans a glimpse of a bright future after years of futility? The next two weeks will tell us everything we need to know.