sports gazette

Chicago Cubs rest as MLB playoff race heats up

Published: 28 Sep 2016

Manager Joe Maddon begins to rest his starters as the Cubs have already clinched their division and home field advantage in the National League.

With just a week left until the MLB regular season concludes and two weeks until the playoffs begin, as well as clinching home field advantage, the Chicago Cubs are in a unique situation having already clinched the NL Central. Manager Joe Maddon has taken advantage of this luxury by resting star players Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, as well going to a six man pitching rotation to rest his starters and set the rotation for success in the playoffs. Now with just over a week remaining in the season, the question of rest vs. momentum has come to the forefront.

Despite already locking up a playoff position, as well as home field advantage for duration of the National League playoffs, there is still value to continuing to win games. Although manager Joe Maddon has been resting his starters, the drive to win games and be baseball’s best at the end of the regular season is still present in the clubhouse. Said Maddon:

“Absolutely. You want to have the best record in baseball, and we do want to have home-field advantage throughout. Does it matter at the end of the day? We’ll find out. I don’t know that it necessarily does. But competitively speaking, who you are as a person, you want to be the best.”

The major issue on Cubs fans minds however, is the issue of over resting players. The baseball playoffs are notoriously short and unforgiving. With it taking only 3 series to win the World Series with one best of 5 and two best of 7’s, the Cubs, or any team for that matter, cannot afford to get off to a slow start. Cubs fans are all too familiar with the dangers of playoff baseball, as the last time the Cubs won their division in 2008, they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round. Similar to this year the Cubs clinched a playoff spot rather early and then manager Lou Pinella was criticized for over resting his starters. Since then, only one team who finished the regular season with the best record has gone on to win the World Series, the 2009 Yankees. The last team to win with the best record before that? The 1998 Yankees. Although regular season champions have not had much recent success in the playoffs, since the Yankees last won in 2009, two wild card teams have won the World Series since then, by carrying a wave of momentum into the playoffs.

The Chicago Cubs and their fans are hoping to change this recent trend of successful regular season teams disappointing in the playoffs, all while looking to end the now 108 year drought without winning a championship, the longest such drought in all of American sports. The Chicago Cubs and their fans are long overdue to see postseason success. Although this team has arguably the most talent of any team in baseball this year and of any Cubs team since the 1980s, it may ultimately come down to a proper balance of rest, momentum and of course luck, to witness the biggest party in Chicago history.

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