If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us, it is to expect the unexpected. After finishing the 2019 season 57-105 and starting this season with Covid-19 issues, no one expected the Miami Marlins to make the postseason, but here we are.
In one NL Wild-Card matchup, the No. 6 Miami Marlins will be taking on the No. 3 Chicago Cubs. Here is a closer look at the series.
Being the higher seed, the Chicago Cubs will host the best-of-three series at Wrigley Field. The schedule will be as follows:
- Game 1: Wednesday, 2 pm ET, ABC
- Game 2: Thursday, Oct. 1, Time TBD, TBD
- Game 3 (if necessary): Friday, Oct. 2, Time TBD, TBD
2020 Regular-Season Records
- Miami Marlins: 31-29
- Chicago Cubs: 34-26
Given the nature of the shortened season, with teams only playing opponents in their region, these two did not play head to head. In 2019, the Cubs took six of seven from the Marlins.
Miami Marlins 2020 Stats
Offensively, it wasn’t a stellar season for the Marlins, who ranked 21st in the majors in runs per game at 4.38. They were led by third baseman Brian Anderson with team-high totals in home runs (11) and runs batted in (38) while hitting a slash line of .255/.345/.465. In the last week, it was first baseman Jesus Aguilar who led the way, hitting .278/.391/.611 with two home runs, three runs batted in and three runs scored.
Defensively, the Marlins also struggled a bit, ranking 22nd in the majors in runs allowed per game at 5.07. Still, they have a couple of young starters that certainly give them a chance any time. Sandy Alcantara has been one of their best starting pitchers, going 3-2 in seven starts with a 3.00 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 42 innings. Rookie Sixto Sanchez has also been stellar since being called up, also going 3-2 in seven starts with a 3.46 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 33 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched.
One variable to keep in mind for this series is the Marlins’ success on the road. Contrary to most teams, they were a better road team than home team, going 11-15 at home but 20-14 on the road. While all teams prefer to play at home, this may be a silver lining for the Marlins as they hit the road for the Windy City.
Chicago Cubs 2020 Stats
The Cubs and the Marlins were similar on offense, with the Cubs ranking 20th, averaging 4.42 runs. Hitting woes have hit some of the Cubs’ superstars, particularly Kris Bryant (hitting .206/.293/.351 with four home runs in 131-at bats) and Javier Baez (.203/.238/.360 with eight home runs). The most consistent hitter has probably been outfielder Jason Heyward, .265/.392/.456 with six home runs and 22 runs batted in.
In terms of pitching, the Cubs’ staff earned run average was 10th in MLB at 3.99, led by a solid 1-2 punch of Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. Darvish, who is finally shaking several rough seasons, is 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and has struck out 93 in 76 innings, while Hendricks is 6-5 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and has struck out 64 in 81 1/3 innings. With those two likely going in two of the three games, the Cubs are set up nicely to win the series.
One area that could be of concern to Chicago is the bullpen, as Craig Kimbrel was supposed to secure the closer’s spot, but he has pitched to the tune of a 5.28 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. As Kimbrel has struggled, the Cubs have moved onto righty Jeremy Jeffress, who has rewarded them with a 4-1 record, eight saves in 10 opportunities and a 1.54 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. There are still a lot of concerns on how to get from the starter to the closer, but at least Jeffress has given some confidence to the ninth inning.
- Game 1: TBD vs. Kyle Hendricks, 6-5, 2.88
- Game 2: TBD vs. TBD
- Game 3: TBD vs. TBD
The Chicago Cubs come in as the favorites to win the series with a moneyline of -200. The Marlins sit at +160 to take the best-of-three series.
In terms of betting odds for winning the World Series, the Cubs are at +1200 and the Marlins at +2500 to win it all.
Wild Card Pick
The fairytale season for the Marlins ends here. With some combination of Darvish and Hendricks going in the first two games, the Marlins will have their hands full.
Reports indicate that it could be Sixto Sanchez in Game 3 if they can get there, though, so if the Marlins can take one of the first two, they could have a chance. With doubts about whether the Marlins can get that done, the smart bet is on the Cubs to win the series.