A capsule look at the Giants-Cubs playoff series
A look at the best-of-five National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Friday, at Chicago (9:15 p.m., FS1); Game 2, Saturday, at Chicago (8:08 p.m., MLB Network); Game 3, Monday, Oct. 10, at San Francisco (TBA, FS1 or MLB Network); x-Game 4, Tuesday, Oct. 11, at San Francisco (TBA, FS1); x-Game 5, Thursday, Oct. 13, at Chicago (TBA, FS1).
Season Series: Cubs won 4-3.
Giants: CF Denard Span (.266, 11 HRs, 52 RBIs, 12 SBs), 1B Brandon Belt (.275, 17, 82, 41 2Bs, 104 BBs), C Buster Posey (.288, 14, 80, 33 2Bs), RF Hunter Pence (.289, 13, 57), SS Brandon Crawford (.275, 12, 84), LF Angel Pagan (.277, 12, 55, 15 SBs), 2B Joe Panik (.239, 10, 62), 3B Conor Gillaspie (.262, 6, 25) or Eduardo Nunez (.288, 16, 67, 40 SBs with Giants and Twins).
Cubs: CF Dexter Fowler (.276, 13, 48), 3B or LF Kris Bryant (.292, 39, 102, 121 runs, 176 hits), 1B Anthony Rizzo (.292, 32, 109, 170 hits), 2B or LF Ben Zobrist (.272, 18, 76), RF Jason Heyward (.230, 7, 49), SS Addison Russell (.238, 21, 95), C Miguel Montero (.216, 8, 33) or Willson Contreras (.282, 12, 35 in 76 games) or David Ross (.229, 10, 32), 2B or 3B or SS Javier Baez (.273, 14, 59).
Giants: RH Johnny Cueto (18-5, 2.79 ERA), LH Matt Moore (13-12, 4.08 with Rays and Giants), LH Madison Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74, 251 Ks), RH Jeff Samardzija (12-11, 3.81).
Cubs: LH Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44, 197 Ks), RH Kyle Hendricks (16-8, MLB-best 2.13), RH Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10), RH John Lackey (11-8, 3.35).
Giants: RH Sergio Romo (1-0, 2.64, 4/4 saves), RH Derek Law (4-2, 2.13, 1 save), LH Javier Lopez (1-3, 4.05, 1 save, .211 BA vs LH hitters), LH Will Smith (2-4, 3.35 with Giants and Brewers), RH Hunter Strickland (3-3, 3.10, 3 saves), RH Santiago Casilla (2-5, 3.57, 31/40 saves), RH George Kontos (3-2, 2.53), LH Ty Blach (1-0, 1.06 in four games).
Cubs: LH Aroldis Chapman (4-1, 1.55, 36/39 saves, 90 Ks, 58 IP for Yankees and Cubs), RH Hector Rondon (2-3, 3.53, 18/23 saves), RH Pedro Strop (2-2, 2.85), RH Carl Edwards Jr. (0-1, 3.75, 2 saves), RH Justin Grimm (2-1, 4.10), LH Mike Montgomery (4-5, 2.52, 7 starts, 49 games for Mariners and Cubs), LH Travis Wood (4-0, 2.95).
This is the second postseason meeting between the teams. San Francisco beat Chicago 4-1 to win the 1989 NLCS. ... The Cubs won 103 games in the regular season, 16 more than San Francisco. ... The Giants took two of three meetings at home in May, then the Cubs won three of four at Wrigley Field in September. The final five games were all decided by one run. ... The Cubs have power arms on their staff and their 1,441 strikeouts in the regular season were the third-most in baseball. The Giants thrive on contact, striking out the second-fewest times but hitting the third-fewest homers. ... Bumgarner is 8-2 with a 2.25 ERA against the Cubs, including 7 2/3 innings to outduel Hendricks for a 1-0 win May 22. ... Cueto allowed one run in seven innings on Sept. 4 only to have Casilla blow a 2-1 lead in the ninth. Chicago won in 13 innings. ... Rizzo is 3 for 25 with 8 Ks against Cueto. ... Chapman is 1-0 with a 1.10 ERA and four saves with 27 Ks in 16 1/3 innings against the Giants. Posey is 5 for 10 with two doubles off Chapman, the most hits for any player against the Cubs closer. ... The top five hitters in San Francisco's lineup are a combined 9 for 71 with 21 Ks and only one extra-base hit off Arrieta. ... Lopez has held Heyward to one hit in 11 ABs with 5 Ks. ... Fowler is 0 for 10 with 6 Ks in his career against Romo. ... Samardzija pitched six-plus seasons for the Cubs before getting traded in 2014 to Oakland in a deal that brought Russell to Chicago.
Giants: After leading the majors with a 57-33 record at the All-Star break, San Francisco (87-75) stumbled to the finish and nearly missed out entirely on the postseason. The Giants ended the regular season with their first four-game winning streak of the second half to beat out St. Louis by one game for the second NL wild card. Now that San Francisco is in, manager Bruce Bochy's team hopes to extend the even-year karma that led to World Series titles in 2010, `12 and `14. ... The Giants started these playoffs the same way they did two years ago, with a road shutout by Bumgarner in the wild-card win. The 3-0 victory over the Mets was San Francisco's ninth straight when facing postseason elimination. The Giants outscored the opposition 50-11 in those games. ... The Giants have won all 11 postseason rounds under Bochy, matching manager Joe Torre and the 1998-2001 New York Yankees for the longest streak in major league history. ... The bullpen was the biggest issue in the second half, with the team setting a franchise record by losing nine games it led after eight innings, including five in September. ... Posey hit just 3 HRs in his last 63 games but picked up his performance late with 12 RBIs in the final nine games of the regular season. ... Pence, who missed 48 games with a hamstring injury, had a strong finish, batting .340 over his final 24 games. ... San Francisco committed a major league-low 72 errors, with Crawford playing mistake-free defense in his final 43 games at shortstop. ... Nunez has been out since Sept. 25 with a hamstring injury, so Gillaspie could get the nod again at third base. He hit a three-run homer off All-Star closer Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning of the wild-card game in New York after a strong final week during the regular season that helped carry San Francisco into the playoffs.
Cubs: Is this the year the Cubs at long last win the World Series? Chicago (103-58) comes into the playoffs with the best record in the majors and a large, excited fan base waiting anxiously and hoping against hope that the first championship since 1908 is finally on the way. The Cubs began the year with soaring expectations coming off a run to the NL Championship Series and proceeded to dominate like no other team this year, jumping out to a 25-6 start on the way to a runaway title in the NL Central under second-year manager Joe Maddon. ... After winning NL Rookie of the Year last season, Bryant is a favorite for MVP along with Rizzo. Bryant joined Rogers Hornsby (1929), Hack Wilson (1930) and Derrek Lee (2005) as the only players in franchise history with at least 120 runs, 35 doubles, 39 homers and 100 RBIs. ... Hendricks and Lester became the first teammates to run 1-2 in the majors in ERA since Houston pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte in 2005. Both figure to get strong consideration for the NL Cy Young Award, which Arrieta won last year. ... Lester matched his career high for wins. ... Cubs pitchers led the majors with a 3.15 ERA. They gave up the fewest runs (556) and hits (1,125). ... On offense, Chicago was third in runs (808) and second in on-base percentage (.343).
- MadBum. The Giants have baseball's biggest October star on their side in Bumgarner. He has thrown 23 straight scoreless innings in the postseason and is 6-1 with a 0.79 ERA and three shutouts in his last nine postseason outings. He'll be on regular rest in Game 3 and could be used in relief if the series goes five games as he was when he pitched five scoreless innings to save Game 7 of the 2014 World Series in Kansas City.
- The Target. The Cubs won 97 games in a breakout season last year and eliminated Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the playoffs before getting swept by the Mets. Back then, the Cubs were the plucky upstart. Not this time. They showed up for spring training bolstered by the additions of Heyward, Zobrist and Lackey, and with a neat new slogan coined by Maddon: ''Embrace the Target.'' The phrase went on a T-shirt, and the Cubs could not have worn it any better during the regular season. They won the division by 17 1/2 games and finished with eight more wins than any other team. They had the depth and versatility to withstand injuries and the poise to pull out 14 wins in their final at-bat. But how well will they wear that target under immense pressure this postseason?
- Closing Time. The bullpen that played such a key role in San Francisco's recent World Series championships melted down in the second half. Casilla tied for the most blown saves in the majors with nine and lost his job. After struggling to find a replacement, Bochy went to Romo, the closer during the 2012 title run. He successfully converted all four save opportunities in the final two weeks.