New York Times’ baseball writer Tyler Kepner noted in a profile of the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs on Friday that as things stand now, the Cubs would meet up with the NL East-leading Washington Nationals in the NLDS, while the Los Angeles Dodgers would face the Wild Card winner in the other division series.
In talking about potential postseason matchups, however, Kepner wrote that Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon, “... eagerly peeked past the first round to an NLCS rematch,” with the Dodgers, who went six games with Chicago in the NLCS last October.
“Absolutely want it, totally want it, nothing would make me happier than that,” [Maddon] 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.”
LA’s running away with the NL West (they’ve run away with it), with an absurd 91-36 record on the year, and a 21.0-game lead in the division as of this morning.
Chicago is 3.0 games up on the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, having gone 25-14 since the All-Star Break, for the second-best record in the majors over that stretch, behind only LA’s (30-7) mark over that stretch.
Maddon, in the New York Times’ article, dismissed the Cubs’ slow start this season as what he called, “... the ‘typical World Series hangover,’” with Kepner noting that, “just one of the six champions that preceded the Cubs,” in winning the World Series, “even qualified for the playoffs the next season, so maybe it should not have been surprising.”
While Chicago’s skipper was clear that he didn’t want to “denigrate” other teams, “that potentially could get,” into the postseason this October, and while he welcomed all comers, looking past a potential NLDS matchup with Washington might just provide the Nationals with extra motivation/bulletin board material if they actually read the comments and the two sides do meet up in the NLDS.
In their regular season matchup, the Nationals took four of seven from the Cubs, with the two teams splitting four in D.C. before Dusty Baker’s Nationals took two of three from Chicago on the road in Wrigley.