The La Russa Heartbreakometer
|Ender Inciarte - RF||Dexter Fowler - CF|
|Phil Gosselin - 3B||Austin Jackson - RF|
|A.J. Pollock - CF||Chris Coghlan - LF|
|Welington Castillo - C||Anthony Rizzo - 1B|
|David Peralta - LF||Kris Bryant - 3B|
|Yasmany Tomas - 1B||Javier Baez - 2B|
|Chris Owings - 2B||David Ross - C|
|Nick Ahmed - SS||Jon Lester - LHP|
|Zack Godley - RHP||Addison Russell - SS|
I'm probably not the only person severely confused by today's start time: even on the East coast, Friday games are almost always evening ones, but this is Wrigley Field, where the number of night games are limited by the Cubs agreement with the city. They didn't have any at all before 1988, and I believe - and by "believe", mean "this cropped up when I Googled it" - this year was the first time in franchise history their Opening Day was actually Opening Night. Friday and Saturday nights are particularly heavily restricted, which is why this series will have three morning first pitches, for those of us still in California.
We saw the Cubs at Chase Field in the second half of May, and took two of three games there, including a walk-off win for the opener, in 13 innings, but overall they did outscore us in the series. Since then, they've obviously done rather better, putting up a 51-38 record which trails only their NL Central rivals in St. Louis and Pittzburgh for the best record over that time. [we've gone 44-47] Right now, it looks fairly certain they will end up taking on the Pirates in the wild-card game, since they are seven games ahead of the Giants, and 7.5 games ahead of the Nationals for the second spot in that contest.
That said, it's worth noting we actually have a better run differential than the Cubs (+22 vs. +20), so you can make the argument that they have been "lucky", and aren't as good a team as their record would indicate. A major factor has been Chicago going 29-17 in one-run games: you can argue whether winning those is a "skill", but it doesn't appear to be one that carries over from year to year. Just ask the D-backs. When we wont the NL West in 2007, despite being outscored, it was largely because we were 32-20 in one-run games. Our record the next season? 22-23. So, there's grounds to hope the Cubs' luck doesn't hold for the next three days.