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The Cubs were the first team to clinch a League Championship Series berth, but after the first two games of the NLCS, they find themselves down 0-2 to the Mets. This despite running their two best pitchers out there for Game 1 and Game 2 -- Jon Lester in the former and Jake Arrieta in the latter -- which now leaves Chicago in a bit of bind.
The NLCS isn't over, not even close -- a two-game deficit can turn into 2-1 and then an evened up 2-2 in a hurry -- but while the Cubs have already turned to their top arms, the Mets are just getting to them. Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard both limited the Chicago attack. Harvey went 7 2/3 innings and allowed two runs, and Thor went 5 2/3 innings of work and gave up one run before handing things over to the Mets' bullpen.
Next up is Jacob deGrom, the Mets' best pitcher who, even without his command in Game 5 of the NLDS, managed to go six innings while holding the Dodgers to two runs. deGrom will be followed by rookie Steven Matz, who didn't pitch as much as he could have thanks to injury, but pitched splendidly in the bigs when able. In Game 3, the Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks, a useful, league-average arm, and might end up using Jason Hammel, cut from a similar and very average cloth, for Game 4.
Chicago can (and has!) won games started by those two in the past, but it's easy to see why relying on them to win after Lester and Arrieta did not can be troublesome. There is no similar point in the Mets' rotation. If the Cubs manage to win one or even both of the next two games, New York just turns to Harvey and Syndergaard again. Chicago doesn't have to win against deGrom in order to head to the World Series, but if they don't, they'll be facing elimination as soon as Wednesday.
SB Nation presents: The Cubs were actually good this season
- Daniel Murphy has hit a homer in four consecutive games, putting him in the October company of Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson, Jim Thome and more. If he manages to go deep on Tuesday, he'll tie Carlos Beltran for the postseason record.
- We probably should have seen this coming. All the Murph-related signs were there!
- Curtis Granderson helped Syndergaard out with a wonderful homer-stealing grab.
- The Mets are doing their part to give us Grant Brisbee's top World Series' matchup, but the Blue Jays aren't holding up their end of this bargain.
- Chris Young will be starting Game 4 of the ALCS, and that's a bit of a curious move given his fly ball tendencies combined with the Rogers Centre's love of dingers. The Royals are up 2-0 at the moment, though, and will have a chance to go up 3-0 Monday with Johnny Cueto on the mound. Kansas City will have to defeat Marcus Stroman to do so, though.
- The Indians lost a Twitter bet with the Rockies on the Broncos/Browns game.
- Alex Rodriguez was a pregame analyst for FOX and it took him roughly 20 seconds to break a screen with a football.
- The Yankees made some personnel changes, firing their hitting and bullpen coaches.
- The Dodgers' season is over, but hey, they have some impressive kids to help out as soon as 2016. They'll be back.