Cubs-Cardinals NLDS preview

By Bob Elliott

Best-of-five National League Division Series
Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals

(Cards won 11 of 19 meetings)

Cubs
Team payroll: $133.2 million (11th) 

Octobers: Two World Series, 10 NL pennants, and 17 playoff appearances. 

Post-season record: 36-62-1

Last post season: Swept in 2008 NLDS by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

Manager: Joe Maddon.   

Record: 97-65.  

How they got here: Jake Arrieta blanked Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 to win NL wild-card game.

Run differential: Plus 81.   

Stud Hosses: 1B Anthony Rizzo (hit .278 with 31 homers, 101 RBIs, .899 OPS), 3B Kris Bryant (.275, 26, 99, .858) and OF Dexter Fowler (.250, 17, 46, .757).

Theme: We’ll forgive Steve Bartman after 11 more wins. 

Looking up: LHP Jon Lester (11-12, 3.34, 47 walks, 207 strikeouts in 205 innings), RHP Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77, 48 walks, 236 strikeouts in 229 innings).      

Looking down: 2B Addison Russell (.242, 13, 54, .686 OPS) and SS Starlin Castro (.265, 11, 69, .671).     

Canadian content: Montreal-born Shiraz Rehman, assistant GM, Ron Tostenson, national crosschecker, Kelowna, B.C, Montreal’s Tom Tango, statistical consultant, C Luke Carlin, Aylmer, Que. Triple A Iowa, LHP Rob Zastryzny, Edmonton, Double A Tennessee, INF Wes Darvill, Richmond, B.C., Tennessee, RHP Jasvir Rakkar, Brampton, Single A Myrtle Beach, 3B Jesse Hodges, Victoria, Single-A South Bend, C Justin Marra, Toronto, Single A Eugene, LHP Ryan Kellogg, Whitby, Eugene, OF Michael Foster, Pickering, Rookie Class Cubs.  

Canadian rootability rating: No. 3 (out of 10 Canadian teams). 

World Series odds: 10/1.

Cardinals
Team payroll: Cardinals $129.8 million (12th). 

Octobers: 11 World Series, 19 NL pennants, 28 playoff appearances.   

Post-season record: 118-105. 

Last post season: Lost 2014 NLCS to the San Francisco Giants in five games.  

Manager: Mike Matheny. 

Record: 100-62.  

How they got here: Spent 175 days in first with six winning months despite injuries, until going 0-3 in October.  

Run differential: Plus 122.  

Stud Hosses: OF Randal Grichuk (.276, 17, 47, .877), 3B Matt Carpenter (.272, 28, 84, .871), RF Jason Heyward (.293, 13, 60, .797).

Theme: AL East? We play in the toughest division in baseball.

Looking up: RHP John Lackey (13-10, 2.77, 53 walks, 175 strikeouts in 218 innings), RHP Michael Wacha (17-7, 3.38, walking 58 and fanning 153), RP Trevor Rosenthal (2-4, 2.10, 48 saves, 25 walks, 83 strikeouts in 68 2é3 innings).

Looking down: C Yadier Molina (.270, four, 61, .660) who is on the roster but far from 100% healthy.
Canadian content: Guelph’s Jamie Pogue, bullpen catcher; INF Joey Hawkins, Whitby, Rookie-Class Johnson City; OF Rowan Wick, North Vancouver, B.C. Rookie Class Gulf Coast Cardinals.
Canadian rootability rating: No. 5.

Bodog World Series odds: 5/1.