Chicago Cubs fans have had to wait as long as humanly possible to figure out their playoff fate. While the Cubs already clinched a playoff birth, they were awaiting the final tiebreaker game to know their opponent.
After losing to the Brewers in the NL Central tiebreaker matchup, the Cubs will play the Rockies on Tuesday in the Wild Card game. According to ESPN, Jon Lester will take the mound for the Cubs at Wrigley Field
The Cubs had two different paths depending on the outcome of their tiebreaker game against the Brewers. If the Cubs won, they would have won the NL East and secure the No. 1 seed in the National League. In this scenario, the Cubs first playoff game would have been on Thursday, October 4th in the NLDS.
Instead, a loss to the Brewers makes their postseason path gets a bit more challenging. Chicago hosts the NL West’s second-place team in the Wild Card game on Tuesday, October 2nd at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. In this scenario, a win in the Wild Card game would have them play the Brewers again in the NLDS. A loss would eliminate them from the playoffs.
The Cubs Will Play the Rockies in Wild Card Game
The Cubs had an opportunity to win the division heading into the final day of the regular season, but they needed the Brewers to lose. Cubs manager Joe Maddon admitted that the team’s playoff path has been a bit different.
“It’s a weird vibe,” Maddon told MLB.com. “It’s different. That was a part of a three-game run where we had to win on Sunday, Monday and the Wild Card Game to eventually get to the Division Series…For me, it’s unusual that I’m in this position again. You really try to treat it as any other game, other than bullpen utilization. The fact that it’s not an elimination game — there’s another caveat attached to this, too…I woke up today, I feel like it’s a regular-season game. There was no different vibe or feeling to me, other than, of course, you want to win this game. The only difference would be how do you utilize your bullpen. Today takes on a different level.”
It is a unique situation in the NL Central given the Cubs and Brewers have the two best records in the National League. Unfortunately, the Cubs will have to play in the Wild Card matchup despite having a better record than the other division leaders. If they can get past the Wild Card matchup, the Cubs would have a chance at revenge against the Brewers.