Cubs set 25-man roster for NLDS against Giants

Cubs set 25-man roster for NLDS against Giants

After much speculation among fans and the Chicago media, the Cubs have set their 25-man roster for the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants that kicks off Friday night at Wrigley Field.

With the Cubs locking up a spot in the NLDS so early, the fun for fans and media turned to how the roster would be constructed.

In the end, the Cubs front office and Joe Maddon's coaching staff opted for 14 hitters and 11 pitchers, including three catchers and seven relievers.

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Jorge Soler was one of the guys in question with his health woes - he missed much of the last two weeks of the regular season with a side issue - but the Cubs ultimately deemed him healthy enough for a spot on the roster. 

Maddon called Soler "an offensive force" during the final homestand of the season and said other teams absolutely have to gameplan around him. 

The slugger proved that last postseason when he set a major-league record by reaching base his first nine trips to the plate against the St. Louis Cardinals and wound up posting a .474 batting average and 1.705 OPS in 7 playoff games.

The surprise is no Matt Szczur on the NLDS roster, who played in 106 games during the regular season, hitting .259 with a .712 OPS while playing all three outfield positions. In his place, Albert Almora Jr. will get his first taste of the postseason.

Almora figures to be a key defensive replacement in the outfield in the latter innings.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Here is the complete 25-man roster for the Cubs:


David Ross
Miguel Montero
Willson Contreras


Anthony Rizzo
Kris Bryant
Ben Zobrist
Addison Russell
Javy Baez
Tommy La Stella


Dexter Fowler
Jason Heyward
Jorge Soler
Albert Almora Jr.
Chris Coghlan

Starting pitchers

Jon Lester
Kyle Hendricks
Jake Arrieta
John Lackey


Aroldis Chapman
Hector Rondon
Pedro Strop
Justin Grimm
Travis Wood
Carl Edwards Jr.
Mike Montgomery

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

The MLB regular season is still 13 days away, but Willson Contreras is ready for the swings to count.

The Cubs catcher hit an absolute bomb of a homer Friday afternoon off White Sox pitcher Reynaldo Lopez, but it wasn't just a homer.

Contreras put an exclamation mark on the dinger (his third of the spring and the second this week) with an A+ bat flip:

I'm not sure what's more majestic: The 450-foot shot or the 45-foot bat-flip.

Either way, Contreras is ready for those 2018 NL MVP votes.

Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback


Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

San Francisco Giants

2017 record: 64-98, last place in NL West

Offseason additions: Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, Austin Jackson, Gregor Blanco, Tony Watson, Julian Fernandez

Offseason departures: Michael Morse, Matt Cain, Matt Moore, Denard Span, Kyle Crick, Christian Arroyo

X-factor: Brandon Belt

The trades for Longoria and McCutchen are going to get all the attention, but the Giants are sort of acquiring Belt, too. 

Their sweet-swining lefty first baseman only appeared in 104 games in 2017, missing the last few weeks of the season with a bad concussion. When he was on the field, he led the team in both homers (18) and walks (66) despite just 451 plate appearances. 

Belt has turned into one of the most patient hitters in the game and if he is able to stay healthy for a full season, would slot in perfectly in the 2-hole ahead of McCutchen, Longoria and Buster Posey. 

Projected lineup

1. Joe Panik - 2B
2. Brandon Belt - 1B
3. Andrew McCutchen - RF
4. Buster Posey - C
5. Evan Longoria - 3B
6. Hunter Pence - LF
7. Brandon Crawford - SS
8. Austin Jackson - CF

Projected rotation

1. Madison Bumgarner
2. Johnny Cueto
3. Jeff Samardzija
4. Ty Blach
5. Chris Stratton


The Giants tied for the worst record in Major League Baseball in 2017, surprising many around the league. Absolutely nothing went right for the team, from a lack of power on the field (Belt missed a third of the season and still led the team in homers), injuries (Bumgarner only made 17 starts) and general ineffectiveness (Mark Melancon).

But the Giants are a team that excels in even years, though the Cubs may have broken that juju by knocking San Fran out of the NLDS in 2016.

Still, between the return to health of key players and some big moves that improved the lineup, this team is primed for a return to form.

Watson is a nice piece at the back end of the bullpen and bet on a rebound from Melancon, who was one of the best late-inning relievers in the game from 2013-16 (1.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 147 saves).

Expect more out of the rotation with Bumgarner and Cueto a dynamic 1-2 punch. Cubs fans are familiar with what Samardzija can do if he gets on a role, too.

It seems crazy to pick the Giants to finish higher than the Diamondbacks, but they still have the same core of players from the championship years and have a much-improved roster.

Prediction: Second place in NL West, wild-card team

Complete opposition research

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Franciso Giants