The Chicago Cubs are going to have to win four straight games against the New York Mets to stay alive in the 2015 postseason. The Cubs did, of course, win seven straight games against the NL East division champs this season, though so far in the NLCS they've come up empty.
Tonight in Wrigley Field, the Cubs send veteran right-hander Jason Hammel to the mound against rookie Mets' left-hander Steven Matz.
Hammel, 33, was (10-7) with a 3.74 ERA, a 3.68 FIP, 40 walks (2.11 BB/9), 172 Ks (9.07 K/9) and a .238/.289/.425 line against in 31 starts and 170 ⅔ innings pitched in the regular season.
He received no decision in his start for the Cubs in Game 4 of the NLDS matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up three hits, three walks and two earned runs before he was lifted from the game.
Hammel told reporters on Tuesday that he understood the must-win nature of the situation he's starting in tonight.
"Obviously, the W is the bottom line," Hammel said.
"And whether it's seven innings or three innings, like it was for me last time, the game plan is to win. We've entrusted Joe [Maddon] with that ability to make the decision whenever he thinks it's ready or whatever decision he needs to make at a certain time, that's his job as manager.
"Obviously, I mean, I want to finish what I've started, so I'm thinking complete game shutout, but things obviously change in mid-game, and those are very rare. But I'm going to prepare to be out there as long as I can."
Matz, 24, made just six starts in the majors this season, while dealing with a torn muscle in his back, putting up a 2.27 ERA, a 3.61 FIP, 10 walks (2.52 BB/9), 34 Ks (8.58 K/9) and a .246/.306/.346 line against in 35 ⅔ innings.
He went five innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, giving up six hits, two walks and three runs, all earned in a 3-1 loss.
Matz told reporters yesterday he didn't think the long layoffs between starts would negatively affect him.
"Really it hasn't been too challenging," he said. "I'm still able to get my work in in-between starts. You know, you're not on necessarily a routine as much as you were during -- as much as I was during the regular season.
"But I'm still able to get my work in, and I still feel fresh for each start. So it's not too much of a challenge."
Will Matz lead the Mets to a win and the World Series? Will Hammel fight to keep the Cubs alive? What will Daniel Murphy do tonight? Game 4 of the NLCS gets started at 8:00 PM tonight...
|NEW YORK METS||CHICAGO CUBS|
|Curtis Granderson - RF||Dexter Fowler - CF|
|David Wright - 3B||Jorge Soler - RF|
|Daniel Murphy - 2B||Kris Bryant - 3B|
|Yoenis Cespedes - CF||Anthony Rizzo - 1B|
|Lucas Duda - 1B||Starlin Castro - 2B|
|Travis d'Arnaud - C||Kyle Schwarber - LF|
|Michael Conforto - LF||Javier Baez - SS|
|Wilmer Flores - SS||Jason Hammel - RHP|
|Steven Matz - LHP||David Ross - C|
Hammel vs the Mets: