NEW YORK -- Though the Chicago Cubs haven’t officially announced anything, expect starters Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel to take the ball in Games 3 and 4 when the National League Championship series switches to Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn’t indicate which pitcher would throw in Game 3 and which would pitch on Wednesday in Game 4 but indicated “more than likely” the two would take the mound. Both started games in the best-of-five division series against the St. Louis Cardinals with the Cubs coming out on top in both contests, so it’s not a surprise they would get another chance.
Hammel pitched only three innings in Game 4, though he settled down after giving up a two-run home run to the second batter of the day.
Berry over Herrera: The Cubs chose pinch running specialist Quintin Berry to replace Addison Russell on the roster -- over infielder Jonathan Herrera -- simply because Berry’s skills might come in use over the course of a best-of-seven series. It leaves the Cubs with one less infielder.
“It makes (Chris) Coghlan more pertinent on the infield if it’s necessary,” Maddon said. “The potential for the running situation might occur more often.”
Coghlan has appeared in 23 games in the infield this season, including 15 at second base, so he becomes the second backup infielder behind Tommy La Stella. Russell is out for the NLCS with a hamstring injury.
Soler stays in lineup: Until recently Maddon has basically platooned Coghlan and Soler, but the latter emerged in the division series, reaching base 10 of 12 times.
“I like where Soler is at but we’ll see how it plays out tonight (Saturday),” Maddon said.
In other words Soler got hot enough for Maddon to leave him in the lineup no matter who the opposing pitcher is. It’s the same thing that happened with Starlin Castro when he began his time at second base facing lefties only but slowly took over the everyday job. Right now it’s Soler’s to lose, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change from game-to-game, especially in the playoffs.