clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NLDS 2017: Chicago Cubs confident heading into matchup with Washington Nationals...

New, 1 comment

If there isn’t a rivalry between the Nationals and the Cubs now, there will likely be one by the time their NLDS matchup is over...

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Maybe they’re not doing it on purpose, maybe they are, but the Chicago Cubs have come off as very... “confident” over the last few weeks as they’ve discussed returning to the Postseason for a third straight season and taking on the Washington Nationals after ending 108 years of frustration in the Windy City last Fall.

Cubs’ skipper, Joe Maddon, in a late August interview with New York Times’ columnist Tyler Kepner, “... eagerly peeked past the first round to an NLCS rematch,” in Kepner’s words, in discussing possibly facing the Los Angeles Dodgers again after knocking LA out of the playoffs last season.

“Absolutely want it, totally want it, nothing would make me happier than that,” he said.

“That’s not to denigrate other teams that potentially could get in here. But for us, I’ve always been about ‘you want to beat the best to be the best.’ They’re the best right now, and you’ve got to go through that group. I’m looking forward to that moment where I feel like we’re clicking on all cylinders again. We’re getting closer to it — and when you get to that point, bring on all comers.”

Well, he did say he didn’t want to “denigrate” potential NLDS opponents, though it was already clear at the time that he was looking past the Division Series in even talking up a rematch with the Dodgers.

Maddon also recently shared his thoughts on the severity of Max Scherzer’s right hamstring tweak, in somewhat humorous fashion, pontificating on the medical definition of the term “tweak” after the Nationals’ right-hander left his final regular season start with the injury this past weekend in the nation’s capital.

“That’s a definite, the ‘tweak,’ [as] it’s defined by the American Medical Association,” Maddon joked, as quoted by Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I’m always curious about how we all try to play semantically with injuries. I have no idea what a ‘tweak’ is. A ‘tweak’ could be a sprain or a strain. I have no idea. But I love the word ‘tweak.’

“... if it was just a cramp – that’s something entirely different. You get over that. You just drink a lot of fluids – you’re fine. But if it was actually some kind of injury to it…it could be a Grade 2 tweak.”

Maddon did, of course, praise Scherzer as well, when he spoke to reporters before the Cubs’ regular season finale.

“Mr. Scherzer is one of the best that I’ve ever seen,” Maddon told reporters in Chicago.

“Regardless of whether you got your Grade-A lineup or not, when this guy’s on, it’s difficult.”

Maddon’s club might not have to worry about facing Scherzer until Game 3 according to speculation out of Washington on Tuesday, and Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta is dealing with a hamstring issue as well.

Not that Stephen Strasburg, or the starters the Cubs will throw are a big downgrade.

Of course the Cubs have the confidence of a team that has been to a World Series and won it, and the Nationals... well, as Chicago’s utility man and the 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist put it, they have yet to win a postseason series and still have to prove they’re capable of taking the next step.

“I definitely think there’s probably a little bit more pressure on them,” Zobrist said, as quoted by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“They haven’t been out of this first series yet. Obviously, they’re very motivated to try to do that. But they know it’s a very, very big moment for them and their organization.”

“I think you basically have a team that’s up and coming that’s really trying to make their mark for the first time in the postseason,” Zobrist explained, “and you’ve got a team that’s proven that they’re exciting to watch and knows how to win like we did last year.”

It’s not all that different from what the Nationals have been saying, of course, but it sounds a little different coming from another team.

Jayson Werth and Dusty Baker said recently, however, that they have learned lessons from the Nationals’ postseason disappointments.

“[Losing] just kind of sticks with you. It’s kind of traumatizing. It sucks,” Werth said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes.

“But I don’t know, other than trying not to lose again, for me, you realize you just got to get there.”

“I get tired of hearing about losing,” Baker, who’s been to the postseason eight times as a manager, without winning a World Series, added as he’s headed for a ninth run.

“I don’t think losing. I think winning. You know what I’m saying? Unless you get there, you have no chance of doing anything.”

This is the fourth time that the Nationals have gotten there now, is this the first time they’ll do something?