You all know the story.
One game to go. Phillies have clinched the NL East, so it's down to the Mets and the Brewers for the Wild Card. Both of us are sitting at 89-72. If both teams lose or both teams win, there will be a one-game playoff in New York, tomorrow if weather permits.
Sveum hasn't been shy about managing like it's game seven, and this game, of course, will be no different. Sabathia is going on three days rest (again), and this time he doesn't have the luxury of facing the Pirates.
Nearly everyone will be available out of the bullpen, though I'd imagine Dale will try to avoid using McClung (4 innings two days ago), Bush (3 innings yesterday) and Parra (2 innings yesterday). He might also hope we make it through without Villanueva, since we might need a starter tomorrow.
Probably lucky for us, the Cubs are starting Angel Guzman. It was supposed to be Carlos Zambrano, at least for a couple of innings. It sounds like the Cubs lineup will be primarily starters, but it's easy to imagine those guys coming out after five or six innings.
Regardless of who's batting for the Cubs, this is a game in which the offense absolutely has to step up. We're going to see a bunch of pitchers who aren't going to make the Cubs postseason roster. We can't count on Sabathia to shut them down, both because the Cubs offense is formidable, and because he's been pushed as hard as he ever has.
Our game starts at 1:05 CT, but the Mets and Marlins will get underway at 12:10 CT--again, weather permitting. Here's the BR Game Preview, and possibly just as important, the Shea Stadium weather report.
The matchup at Shea is Scott Olsen and Oliver Perez. Olsen has quietly put together a solid rebound year, though he hasn't had much success against the Mets--no quality starts in four tries this year, and he only pitched six complete one of those times.
Perez is the X-factor in that game, though. Like Santana yesterday, he's going on three days rest. He's only done so once before in his career (back in 2005), and it was a disaster. Not only that, he struggled last time out, managing only 4.1 innings on over 100 pitches. Perez gets his strikeouts, but walks are always the problem--he's over 100 this year. Maybe he'll match Santana's gutsy performance, but I'd put more money on the chance that he walks the bases loaded at least once.
I've read a few murmurs here and there about how great it is that we passed the 85-win threshold, or the 88-win threshold (that was a common optimistic projection, including my own, I think), or that we still have a chance to crack 90 wins.
The great thing about this, though, is that the number of wins doesn't matter. Number of wins is what you care about when nothing else is on the line. I'm sure that, in December, we can look back and be happy about an x-win season, but right now, we only care about one game.