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#Cubs Wild Card Game roster

The Cubs announced the 25-man roster for Wednesday’s Wild Card Game against the Pirates. Here you go:

28-Kyle Hendricks, RHP
33-Clayton Richard, LHP
34-Jon Lester, LHP
37-Travis Wood, LHP
46-Pedro Strop, RHP
49-Jake Arrieta, RHP
52-Justin Grimm, RHP
53-Trevor Cahill, RHP
56-Hector Rondon, RHP
57-Fernando Rodney, RHP

3-David Ross
5-Quintin Berry
8-Chris Coghlan
9-Javier Baez
11-Tommy La Stella
12-Kyle Schwarber
13-Starlin Castro
15-Chris Denorfia
17-Kris Bryant
22-Addison Russell
24-Dexter Fowler
27-Austin Jackson
44-Anthony Rizzo
47-Miguel Montero
68-Jorge Soler

#Cubs Bryant, Schwarber could be in OF

Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn’t want to reveal his lineup for Wednesday’s National League Wild Card Game because he didn’t want to give the Pirates any edge. But judging by batting practice on Tuesday, the Cubs could have rookies Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber at the corner outfield spots.

Tommy La Stella worked out at third base, including some extra work after batting practice ended on Tuesday at PNC Park. Bryant was in left field during the workout.

“I can do it,” Bryant said about playing the outfield. “I made a pretty good play here the last time I was in the outfield. [I’ll play] wherever they need me. This is a game where it really doesn’t matter where I play. I just want to help the team win any way I can. If that’s in the outfield, then I’ll play the heck out of the outfield.”

In the last 10 days, Maddon has moved players around in preparation for the postseason.

“I love the fact that we’re so versatile,” Maddon said Tuesday. “I love that young players are not stuck in one position, and if you move them, all of a sudden they freak out about it or it’s going to hurt them in arbitration or whatever years from now because they don’t have one position. Our guys don’t think that way and I love it. All of this has been experimentation waiting to get to this moment.”

Bryant has started 10 games in the outfield, including four in left, one in center and five in right. His only start in center was at PNC Park on April 23. In a doubleheader on Sept. 15, he started the first game at third, and was in right field for the second game.

“Right field is a little different because there’s a chain link fence,” he said of PNC Park. “There’s not the traditional padded wall. Left field is pretty big, left center is huge. I hit a couple balls to left center that I thought were homers and they were outs, so it’s a pretty big left field.”

The Cubs most likely would want La Stella in the lineup as the left-handed hitting infielder is the only Cubs player with an extra-base hit off Pirates starter Gerrit Cole this season. Bryant is 3-for-9, striking out six times.

Schwarber has started 38 games in the outfield, primarily in left (36 games). With Bryant, Schwarber, and shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs could have three rookies starting on Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs notes: Arrieta honored; Vote Rizzo; TV ratings

Arrieta wins NL Pitcher of the Month for 2nd time

Jake Arrieta was voted the NL Pitcher of the Month for September, the second time he’s won the award this season. The Cubs right-hander is the first NL pitcher to win the award in consecutive months since the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw di so in June and July 2014.

Arrieta was 4-0 in five September outings with a Major League-best 0.45 ERA. He held opposing hitters to a .148 batting average, which was the second-lowest mark among qualifying ML pitchers last month, while ranking fifth among NL hurlers in innings pitched (40.0) and sixth in strikeouts (39). He gave up 20 hits during the month and issued only four walks.

Arrieta’s September ERA was the lowest by a Major League pitcher during the month of September since
the Twins’ Johan Santana notched the same mark in September 2004 during his Cy Young Award-winning
campaign. The last NL pitcher to post a September ERA of 0.45 or lower was Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who
had a 0.29 ERA in 1995 with the Braves during his Cy Young Award-winning season.

Arrieta capped September with seven shutout innings, permitting one hit in a 4-0 win over the Pirates at Wrigley
Field on Sept. 27. In the outing, Arrieta extended his Wrigley scoreless streak to 40 2/3 innings, which,
according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the longest such streak at Wrigley in its 101-year history. The previous
best streak was held by Hall of Famer Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals, who tossed 37-scoreless frames at
the historic ballpark spanning the 1965 and ‘66 seasons.

With the strong September, Arrieta finished the season with a Major League-best 22 wins (22-6) and a 1.77 ERA, which was baseball’s second-lowest mark.

Rizzo a Hank Aaron nominee

The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo is one of 30 finalists for the 2015 Hank Aaron Award, which was announced Monday by Major League Baseball and MLB Advanced Media. Fans can vote for the winner online at and the 30 Club sites. Combined, the nominees have been named All-Stars 90 times, including 16 2015 All-Stars.

For the sixth straight year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron will join fans in voting for the award, which is officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball and has recognized the most outstanding offensive performer in each League since it was established in 1999.

Continuing through Oct. 11, fans will have the opportunity to select one AL and one NL winner from a list comprising of one finalist per Club. The winners of the 2015 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the 2015 World Series.

Vote Rizzo.

Comcast SportsNet sees boost

Comcast SportsNet posted big year-to-year television ratings increases in overall Chicago market households and in every key demographic category, along with scoring significant TV ratings increases for its surrounding pre/postgame programming.

Comcast SportsNet’s Cubs television ratings averaged a 3.32 household rating in 2015 (approx. 112,317 Chicago market TV households tuning in per game) — a 121% increase over 2014’s 1.50 final household season average. More than 60,000 Chicago market TV homes tuned in per game this season compared to last season.

#Cubs Bryant top selling jersey in MLB

Kris Bryant’s No. 17 is the most popular player jersey in all of MLB for 2015. Bryant becomes the first rookie and youngest player ever to lead the list since MLB and MLBPA released jersey sales rankings in 2010. The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo also is on the list at No. 8. Here are the top five:

1. Kris Bryant
2. Madison Bumgarner
3. Buster Posey
4. Clayton Kershaw
5. Mike Trout

It was quite the season for the #Cubs

Facts and figures from the Cubs’ 2015 season:

*Anthony Rizzo became the 43rd 30-100 player in Cubs history, driving in his 100th and 101st runs with a two-run single in the first. Rizzo, who has 30 home runs, is the first Cubs player with a 30/100 season since Alfonso Soriano did in 2012. Rizzo also is just the fourth left-handed hitter to accomplish the feat in franchise history.

*Kris Bryant finished with 26 home runs, 31 doubles, 99 RBI, 86 runs scored and 74 walks. In Major League history, only one other player has reached those numbers in his rookie season and that was Ted Williams in 1939. Manager Joe Maddon wasn’t too upset that Bryant didn’t reach 100 RBIs. Maddon said: “It gives him something to shoot for next year.”

*The Cubs finished with 97 wins, the most since a 97-64 record in 2008. Maddon set a franchise record for most wins in the first year with the Cubs. Jim Frey held the old mark of 96 in 1984.

*Hector Rondon totaled a career-high 30 saves and a 1.67 ERA. He’s the second pitcher in Cubs history to save 30 games and post a 1.67 ERA or lower, joining Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, who saved 31 games and had a 1.34 ERA in 1977.

*The Cubs pitchers totaled 1,431 strikeouts, setting a National League single-season record. The old mark was 1,404, set by the 2003 Cubs. The Cubs batters also led the Majors in K’s with 1,518, but led the NL in walks (567).

*The Cubs finished 48-33 on the road this season. It’s the first time they’ve won more than 45 games on the road since a franchise-record 49 wins in 1945.

#Cubs Maddon: No blitzes today in finale

Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be scoreboard watching Sunday. Chicago began the day one game behind Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card standings. If the Pirates win, they secure home field advantage for Wednesday’s Wild Card Game.

Maddon knows all about having Game 162 determine whether or not a team makes the postseason. On Sept. 28, 2011, the last game of the regular season, his Rays faced the Yankees with a postseason berth on the line, and fell behind, 7-0, after five innings. He was worried that he would need the bullpen in a possible one-game playoff against the Red Sox, but could monitor Boston’s score that day.

“That game was concurrent with ours, so you could look at that,” he said of the Red Sox game game against the Orioles, which they lost.

The Rays rallied to win, 8-7, in 12 innings, thanks to Evan Longoria’s walk off home run. Having all of Sunday’s games start at the same time will help, he said.

“It matters to be able to look at the scoreboard and try to figure out what you want to do,” Maddon said.

The Cubs didn’t have any surprises planned for Sunday’s season finale against the Brewers.

“We’re not going to do anything differently,” he said. “There’s not anything new to put in there — there’s no new packages, we’re not bringing a new offense, we’re not going to blitz any more, no 3-4 [formation]. Just go play. Please don’t do anything differently, just go play.”

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Haren starts vs Brewers

Dan Haren takes the mound on Sunday at Miller Park as the Cubs wrap up the regular season against the Brewers. There’s a lot on the line. The Pirates have a one-game lead in the NL Wild Card standings. If the Pirates beat the Reds on Sunday, they’ll secure home field advantage for Wednesday’s Wild Card Game. If the Pirates lose and the Cubs win, the Cubs would host the Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field because they won the season series, 11-8.

Here’s Sunday’s lineup:

Jackson CF

Coghlan RF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro 2B

Denorfia LF

Montero C

Russell SS

Haren P

This may be Dan Haren’s last big league start. He has said this will likely be his final season. He’s one of seven active players with 2,000 strikeouts. He’s gone 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA at Miller Park. This will be his 32nd start of the season, and No. 380 of his big league career.

#Cubs still have chance to host WC game

The Cubs beat the Brewers, 1-0, on Saturday night to put pressure on the Pirates, who are trying to secure home field advantage in the NL Wild Card Game. Pittsburgh lost Saturday night to the Reds, and now has a one-game lead in the Wild Card standings. The Pirates must win Sunday to play Wednesday’s WC game at PNC Park. If the Pirates lose and the Cubs win, the two teams will have identical records, and the game will be at Wrigley Field because Chicago won the in-season series, 11-8.

Sunday’s game will start at 2:10 p.m. CT at Miller Park.

“That’s why you keep playing,”  Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “You stay focused on the day and you take care of your own business and if you do that, you get to tomorrow with an opportunity to do something really cool. We’ve been playing it straight up, we’ve been using a lot of different guys. Everybody’s fresh. We’ve been playing it straight up. Tomorrow we’ll do it again.”

Dan Haren gets the start on Sunday at Miller Park against the Brewers’ Jorge Lopez.

— Carrie Muskat

It’s Game 161, and #Cubs are working on bunting

Prior to the Cubs’ 161st game on Saturday, players and pitchers were working on their bunting at Miller Park. Manager Joe Maddon wanted to make the most out of their batting practice time in preparation for Wednesday’s National League Wild Card Game.

“The thing I love is these are Major League players going to the playoffs, and they’re out there paying attention and they’re very enthusiastic about it,” Maddon said. “That’s pretty solid.”

One never knows if a little thing like a well-executed bunt can be the difference in a postseason game.

“We’ve worked on it all year,” Maddon said. “But if you do it like that [prior to the playoffs], what does it tell the players? That it’s really important.”

This final week of regular season games has been a little like instructional league, Maddon said.

“You alter your lineups, you try to keep guys fresh,” he said. “In instructional league, you give guys the opportunity to play based on things you talked about or taught that morning. It feels like an instructional league moment, and that was my favorite time of year.”

The Cubs will face the Pirates on Wednesday, although the site is still to be determined.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Hendricks starts vs Brewers

The Cubs need to win to keep pace with the Pirates in the battle for home field advantage in the Wild Card game. Pittsburgh has a two-game lead with two games to play, and if the Cubs lose, the Pirates are in. Kyle Hendricks gets the start Saturday. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Schwarber RF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro 2B

Coghlan LF

Russell SS

Ross C

Hendricks P

If the Cubs and Pirates finish in a tie, the Cubs would host the Wild Card game on Wednesday at Wrigley Field; the tiebreaker is head to head season series (Chicago won, 11-8).

This will be Hendricks last regular season start. The right-hander is coming off a solid outing against the Royals in which he threw six shutout innings.

The Cubs pitchers have set a National League record for most strikeouts in a single season with 1,414. The old mark was 1,404, set in by the 2003 Cubs.


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