ST.LOUIS --The Chicago Cubs made one change to their roster from their wild card game, adding pitcher Jason Hammel while subtracting pinch-running specialist Quintin Berry. It means they’ll deploy 11 pitchers and 14 position players for their series against the St. Louis Cardinals, which begins Friday.
Will Berry be missed? He has been thrown out stealing just once in his major league career.
Only hindsight will tell us that answer as having a specialist for the base paths is a luxury. However, it’s a luxury the Cubs could afford. They simply don’t need the extra pitcher. The off days in the series come at a perfect time including one after Kyle Hendricks pitches in Game 2 and the other after Game 4 which could be Hammel’s start. Joe Maddon can unload his bullpen on those days knowing they’ll have rest in between games.
Games 1 and 3 have Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta throwing, so middle relievers aren’t exactly going to be needed unless things are going terribly wrong. And remember, Hammel is in the bullpen to start the series so there’s the extra arm if he’s needed.
The Cubs have a very strong bench but no one with close to the speed which Berry possesses. This isn’t just about stolen bases it’s also about going from first to third or second to home or even utilizing a squeeze play. There may or may not be that moment in the entire series Berry will actually be missed, but the same could be said of the extra bullpen arm. The bottom line is Berry provides something unique which the Cubs no longer have in their arsenal.
Here’s the rest of the Cubs roster for the NLDS:
33-Clayton Richard, LHP
37-Travis Wood, LHP
39- Hammel, RHP
46-Pedro Strop, RHP
52-Justin Grimm, RHP
53-Trevor Cahill, RHP
56-Hector Rondon, RHP
57-Fernando Rodney, RHP
POSITION PLAYERS (14)