Cubs roster and schedule
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Chicago Cubs roster and schedule for 2020 season

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The 2020 MLB season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The Chicago Cubs roster and schedule:

CUBS ROSTER (projected)

When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.

In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Cubs roster to begin the season:

Catchers:

Willson Contreras
Victor Caratini

Infielders:

Anthony Rizzo
Nico Hoerner
Jason Kipnis
Javier Báez
Kris Bryant
David Bote
Daniel Descalso

Outfielders:

Albert Almora Jr.
Ian Happ
Jason Heyward
Kyle Schwarber
Steven Souza Jr.

Starters:

Kyle Hendricks
Yu Darvish
Jon Lester
Tyler Chatwood
Alec Mills

Relievers:

Craig Kimbrel
Kyle Ryan
Jeremy Jeffress
Duane Underwood Jr.
Ryan Tepera
Dan Winkler
Casey Sadler
Rowan Wick


BREAKDOWN:

The Cubs missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2014. The club’s 84-78 record marked a decline of 11 wins from the previous season. The offense was predictably good, but the pitching staff did not quite live up to expectations, especially the mid-season signing of closer Craig Kimbrel, who posted a 6.53 ERA over 20 2/3 innings.

They’re bringing back more or less the same starting cast from last year. The big change on offense is the glut of second basemen used last season will be replaced by prospect Nico Hoerner and, to a lesser extent, veteran Jason Kipnis. Before the league shut down due to the pandemic and the 2020 season was reduced to 60 games, there was some thought that the Cubs could leave Hoerner in Triple-A, but now the club has nothing to lose. In a brief debut spanning 20 games in 2019, Hoener posted a solid .741 OPS. Kipnis, meanwhile, has been getting closer and closer to replacement level since he turned 30, but he will prove to be a valuable mentor to Hoerner.

Alec Mills earned a spot in the rotation as José Quintana is sidelined with a thumb injury. Tyler Chatwood, bumped up to the No. 4 spot for the time being, pitched mostly out of the bullpen last year and showed promise after a couple of shaky seasons in 2017-18. The right-hander improved his strikeout rate and made progress on reducing his walk rate. He hasn’t pitched regularly out of the rotation since ’18, but if his peripherals and limited exhibition performances this year are any indication, he may have turned the corner.

One wonders how much leash Kimbrel will have if he can’t figure things out in a shortened season. His 2019 performance was by far the worst of his 10-year career, no doubt affected by his free agency lingering two months into the regular season. Kimbrel will need to be effective out of the gate, but none of the other members of the bullpen have lengthy histories closing out games. Would the Cubs trust Rowan Wick, Casey Sadler, or Kyle Ryan, for instance, to handle the ninth inning if Kimbrel can’t?

It goes without saying the Cubs will be buoyed by their big bats — Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber. One can write in pen 150 homers (or the 60-game equivalent pace, 56) from the quintet. It’s the rest of the cast that will determine whether or not the Cubs miss out on the postseason for a second straight season or make an attempt to return to glory.

CUBS SCHEDULE:

Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.

  • July 24-26: vs. Brewers
  • July 27-30: @ Reds
  • July 31-August 2: vs. Pirates
  • August 3-4: vs. Royals
  • August 5-6: @ Royals
  • August 7-9: @ Cardinals
  • August 11-12: @ Indians
  • August 13-15: vs. Brewers
  • August 17-19: vs. Cardinals
  • August 21-23: vs. White Sox
  • August 24-26: @ Tigers
  • August 28-30: @ Reds
  • September 1-3: @ Pirates
  • September 4-7: vs. Cardinals
  • September 8-10: vs. Reds
  • September 11-13: @ Brewers
  • September 15-16: vs. Indians
  • September 18-20: vs. Twins
  • September 21-24: @ Pirates
  • September 25-27: @ White Sox

The entire Pirates schedule can be seen here.

Cardinals beat Brewers, both clinch postseason berths

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. LOUIS — Harrison Bader tripled and homered to help the St. Louis Cardinals clinch a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season with a 5-2 win over Milwaukee, and the Brewers also earned a playoff spot Sunday via help on the West Coast moments later.

St. Louis (30-28) will be the fifth seed in the NL and open a three-game wild-card series at San Diego on Wednesday. By winning, the Cardinals avoided having to travel to Detroit for two makeup games Monday. St. Louis finished the regular season with 23 games in 18 days as it made up a slew of postponements caused by a coronavirus outbreak in the clubhouse.

“You had to throw some of the expectations out the window not knowing what to expect after taking those couple weeks off and all those doubleheaders and so many new guys,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. “It was very different, very fulfilling to make the playoffs.”

The Brewers (29-31) locked up the eighth seed and a third consecutive postseason berth after the Padres beat San Francisco 5-4 in a game that ended about 15 minutes after St. Louis’ victory. The Giants finished with an identical record as the Brewers but lost out on a tiebreaker due to an inferior intradivision record.

“It’s fitting for 2020 and everything we went through,” Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich said. “It felt just as good as past years. This year’s a unique one. There’s so many challenges we had to go through on a daily basis behind the scenes, things you don’t deal with in a normal year.”

Milwaukee will face the top-seeded Dodgers in Los Angeles in a three-game series that also starts Wednesday.

The Brewers haven’t had a winning record at any point this season. Milwaukee and Houston will be the first teams ever to qualify for the playoffs with a losing mark.

“It’s a celebration,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re in the playoffs. That’s how you see it. There’s no reason to apologize for getting into the playoffs.”

Cardinals starter Austin Gomber allowed one run, one hit and two walks and struck out three over four innings.

Giovanny Gallegos (2-0), Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes combined to pitch the final five innings. Reyes got his first save.

“We’d have been happy getting in as the eight seed,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We’d have been happy being the one seed, but people can say we got in if there was no expanded playoffs so that’s even another feather in this group’s cap.”

Brett Anderson (4-4) surrendered a triple to Bader and a walk to Tyler O'Neill to start the third inning before departing with a blister on his left index finger. Anderson opened the season on the injured list with a blister on the same finger and did not make his debut until Aug. 3.

Freddy Peralta replaced him a day after being activated from the paternity list, and O’Neill promptly stole second. Kolten Wong then hit a line drive off Peralta’s leg that Peralta threw into right field to score Bader and O’Neill.

Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong each added RBI singles to push the St. Louis lead to 4-0.

After Milwaukee scored in the top of the fifth, Bader hit his fifth home run of the season.

“That was a big counterpunch,” Shildt said of Bader. “Got them on their heels again.”

THREE TIMES THE FUN

Yadier Molina grounded into a triple play in the eighth inning when he hit a one hop grounder to Jace Peterson at third base in the eighth inning. It was Milwaukee’s first triple play since Sept. 23, 2016, when Cincinnati’s Joey Votto lined out to first base. Molina was also the last Cardinals player to hit into a triple play when he grounded out to third base at Boston on Aug. 15, 2017.

TRAINING ROOM

Brewers: Counsell said it was too early to prognosticate Anderson’s status after departing with the blister.

Cardinals: St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced that RHP Dakota Hudson will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Monday. Hudson went 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts before leaving his start on Sept. 17 at Pittsburgh with right elbow discomfort after two innings.

UP NEXT

Brewers: The Brewers head to Los Angeles and will likely be without two of their top starters in Anderson and Corbin Burnes, who sustained a left oblique injury on Thursday.

Cardinals: This will be the fourth postseason series between St. Louis and San Diego, who faced each other in 1996, 2005, and 2006 in the Division Series.