Cubs unveil wild-card lineup in advance of showdown with Pirates


Cubs unveil wild-card lineup in advance of showdown with Pirates

PITTBURGH - In one baseball game, anything can happen.

Sure, Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole - two of the best pitchers in the game today - will be going head-to-head, but you can't just assume the Cubs-Pirates showdown in the National League wild-card game will be a low-scoring affair.

[RELATED - Cubs trying to be oblivious to playoff pressure: 'Dumb it down']

"What it comes down to is the beauty of the game and what can take place when men get out on the mound and teams take the field," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before the team's workout Tuesday. "It very well could be a low-scoring game. That would seem to be the reach. And then some different things could happen."

Which means both Hurdle and Cubs manager Joe Maddon need to be prepared for anything.

There is no guarantee Jake Arrieta will keep dominating the world like he has the last few months. Especially in the first postseason game of his career.

The Cubs released Maddon's lineup Wednesday afternoon:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kyle Schwarber - RF
3. Kris Bryant - LF
4. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
5. Tommy La Stella - 3B
6. Starlin Castro - 2B
7. Miguel Montero - C
8. Addison Russell - SS
9. Jake Arrieta - P

Here is the Cubs' complete 25-man roster for the wild-card game:


Miguel Montero

2015 stats: .248 AVG, .754 OPS, 15 HR, 53 RBI

How he got here: The Cubs traded for Montero in the offseason, dealing a pair of young pitchers to the Arizona Diamondbacks to acquire the veteran catcher and add a valuable piece inside the clubhouse.

David Ross

2015 stats: .176 AVG, .518 OPS, 1 HR, 9 RBI

How he got here: The Cubs signed Ross in the offseason to serve as Jon Lester's personal catcher and a pseudo coach in the locker room. Oh, and he's pretty good at Taylor Swift karaoke.


Anthony Rizzo

2015 stats: .278 AVG, .899 OPS, 31 HR, 101 RBI, 94 R, 17 SB

How he got here: Rizzo came to the Cubs in a franchise-altering move that sent Andrew Cashner to the San Diego Padres and handed the Cubs an MVP candidate and serious middle-of-the-order threat.

Starlin Castro

2015 stats: .265 AVG, .671 OPS, 11 HR, 69 RBI, 52 R

How he got here: Castro is the longest-tenured Cubs player, having spent only a few days on a winning team in Chicago before this season. The embattled shortstop was benched in early August, but has been baseball's best hitter since Sept. 1 and was tabbed as Montero's prediction for the team's postseason MVP.

Addison Russell

2015 stats: .242 AVG, .696 OPS, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 60 R

How he got here: The National League's youngest player was put on the fast track after coming to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal last July 4. The quiet rookie started out playing second base, but has now taken his smooth glove to shortstop and is one of the top defensive players in the game already.

Kris Bryant

2015 stats: .275 AVG, .858 OPS, 26 HR, 99 RBI, 87 R, 13 SB

How he got here: Yes, the Cubs made the right move in keeping Bryant down in Iowa for two weeks at the beginning of the season to retain an extra year of control on the budding superstar. Bryant is all but guaranteed the NL Rookie of the Year award and has emerged as one of the best all-around players in the game, proving he's way more than just a guy who hits home runs and strikes out.

[MORE CUBS: Kris Bryant wants to keep the surprises coming in playoffs]

Tommy La Stella

2015 stats: .269 AVG, .727 OPS, 1 HR, 11 RBI

How he got here: The Cubs acquired La Stella from the Atlanta Braves for Arodys Vizcaino in the offseason and the 26-year-old infielder spent most of the season on the disabled list with oblique injuries. But it didn't take him long to win over Maddon's confidence and La Stella figures to play a prominent role in the Cubs' playoff run.

Javier Baez

2015 stats: .289 AVG, .733 OPS, 1 HR, 4 RBI

How he got here: Baez was the most intriguing Cubs prospect last season during his two-month stint in the big leagues. This year, the death of his sister and a finger injury nearly derailed Baez's season, but the young slugger perservered and looks like a completely different player, giving the Cubs defense, speed and a more mature approach at the plate.


Dexter Fowler

2015 stats: .250 AVG, .757 OPS, 17 HR, 46 RBI, 102 R, 20 SB

How he got here: The Cubs traded Luis Valbuena for Fowler over the winter, anchoring their lineup and defense as a bonafide leadoff hitter and centerfielder. Fowler led the team in walks and runs scored, setting the table for Rizzo and Bryant.

Kyle Schwarber

2015 stats: .246 AVG, .842 OPS, 16 HR, 43 RBI, 52 R

How he got here: The Cubs' first-round pick in 2014 broke into the big leagues in a big way, mashing everything in sight. He's slowed down a bit since then, but still represents a potentially game-changing left-handed bat in the postseason

Chris Coghlan

2015 stats: .250 AVG, .784 OPS, 16 HR, 41 RBI, 64 R, 11 SB

How he got here: One of the more underrated players on any postseason team, Coghlan spent a large part of the season as the Cubs' No. 3 hitter, showing off his versatility by playing all over the diamond and crushing right-handed pitching.

Jorge Soler

2015 stats: .262 AVG, .723 OPS, 10 HR, 47 RBI

How he got here: Soler was seen as a Rookie of the Year contender before the season, but struggled to get going out of the gate and dealt with a pair of injuries that forced him to miss more than 50 games. The 23-year-old hits the ball as hard as anybody in baseball and can change the game late even if he doesn't get a start.

Chris Denorfia

2015 stats: .269 AVG, .691 OPS, 3 HR, 18 RBI

How he got here: The veteran outfielder has become a "glue guy" in the clubhouse and figures to be utilized as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter in any Cubs postseason games.

Austin Jackson

2015 stats: .236 AVG, .679 OPS, 1 HR, 10 RBI

How he got here: The Cubs dealt for Jackson right before the waiver deadline, adding another veteran who plays solid defense at all three outfield positions and provides a right-handed bat and some speed off the bench.

Quintin Berry

2015 stats: 2 SBs, 1 CS

How he got here: Berry is on the roster as a pinch-runner, hoping to change the game with his speed just like Dave Roberts did on the 2004 Boston Red Sox.


Jake Arrieta

2015 stats: 22-6, 1.77 ERA, 0.865 WHIP, 236 K

How he got here: If the Rizzo trade was a franchise-altering move, then what does the Cubs-Orioles trade from July 2013 qualify as? Theo Epstein's front office flipped Scott Feldman for Pedro Strop and Arrieta, who is currently the top pitcher in the universe. The Cubs haven't won a playoff game since before Steve Bartman reached for a foul ball and their postseason hopes now hinge on a former "bust."

[MORE CUBS: How Jake Arrieta transformed himself into the Cubs ace]

Jon Lester

2015 stats: 11-12, 3.34 ERA, 1.122 WHIP, 207 K

How he got here: The signing that made this all happen. Lester's megadeal was the official signal that the Cubs were going for it and his professional approach to the game and in the clubhouse changed the culture and set the franchise on the right path. Lester is on the wild-card roster to provide insurance for Arrieta.

Kyle Hendricks

2015 stats: 8-7, 3.95 ERA, 1.161 WHIP, 167 K

How he got here: Hendricks really turned it on at the end of the year, but the 25-year-old is an interesting name to see on the Cubs' wild-card roster. Maddon needs just one starter, with Lester as insurance while Travis Wood, Clayton Richard and Trevor Cahill can provide some length out of the bullpen, so Hendricks doesn't appear to have a fit at first glance. But maybe Maddon has a trick up his sleeve...

Clayton Richard

2015 stats: 4-2, 3.83 ERA, 1.276 WHIP

How he got here: The Pirates dealt Richard to the Cubs for cash this summer and the 31-year-old lefty carved out a nice role in Chicago as a left-handed specialist, long-relief guy and even a starter for three games. Maddon compared Richard to a utility infielder thanks to his versatility.

Travis Wood

2015 stats: 5-4, 3.84 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, 118 K, 4 SV

How he got here: Wood began the year in the rotation but after a bout of ineffectivness, the lefty was moved to the bullpen and transformed as a high-strikeout guy who could find success in a variety of different roles.

Pedro Strop

2015 stats: 2-6, 2.91 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 81 K, 3 SV

How he got here: The Cubs' top setup man appeared in 76 games in 2015 and could be Maddon's choice to pitch the eighth inning against the Pirates (you know, if Arrieta doesn't throw a complete game).

Justin Grimm

2015 stats: 3-5, 1.99 ERA, 1.148 WHIP, 67 K, 3 SV

How he got here: Maddon tabbed Grimm as a "mid-innings closer" earlier in the season and the 26-year-old righty is one of the most important pieces of the bullpen, able to come in for just one batter or toss two innings in high-leverage situations.

Trevor Cahill

2015 stats: 1-0, 2.12 ERA, 0.765 WHIP, 22 K

How he got here: The Cubs picked Cahill up off the scrap heap and after failed stints as a starter over the last couple years, the 27-year-old righty has figured it out in the Cubs bullpen, striking out 11.6 batters per nine innings and showing he can handle any situation.

Hector Rondon

2015 stats: 6-4, 1.67 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 69 K, 30 SV

How he got here: Rondon lost the closer's role earlier in the season because he was trying to strike everybody out, but Montero and Cubs coaches helped the former Rule 5 draft pick understand he can be successful pitching to contact, too, and now Rondon is one of the top stoppers in the game.

Fernando Rodney

2015 stats: 2-0, 0.75 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 15 K

How he got here: The 38-year-old Rodney shot an arrow of life into the Cubs bullpen, allowing just one earned run in 12 innings since being picked up late in the season. Rodney is the most experienced member of the bullpen and may find himself in high-leverage situations this October.

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

NBC Sports Chicago

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

Ozzie Guillen explains why he thinks Manny Machado is a better fit for the Cubs than the White Sox. Plus, Guillen and Marlon Byrd react to 19-year-old Juan Soto hitting a homer in his first at-bat with the Nationals.

Later in the show the guys debate who had the better rants in front of the media: Guillen or Byrd?

Finally, Byrd opens up about his PED suspensions, relates to the guys caught using PEDs now and Guillen offers up a solution to rid baseball of PEDs entirely.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Marlon Byrd on PED suspensions: 'You can make a mistake on purpose or on accident'

Marlon Byrd on PED suspensions: 'You can make a mistake on purpose or on accident'

Six players on Major League Baseball rosters have been suspended twice for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Marlon Byrd, one of the players in that infamous group, has to live with that for the rest of his career. The 40-year-old talked about that on Baseball Night in Chicago on NBC Sports Chicago.

“Anybody that goes through this, it’s a part of their career,” Byrd said. “That’s it. This is a part of my career. Not testing positive once, but testing positive twice. I will always have to answer the question because it is a part of my 15-year major league career and always will. The easiest way to answer it is to tell the truth that way you can do it over and over and over again. Once you start telling fibs or telling lies you start holding onto something that’s not the truth.”

Byrd signed a 3-year deal with the Cubs ahead of the 2010 season. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in April of 2012. Byrd’s first suspension came on June 25, 2012. He was suspended for 50 games. In 2016, he received his second suspension on June 1 and retired after the suspension.

Byrd was asked about his view on the recent Robinson Cano suspension, which will cost the Mariners’ second baseman 80 games. He spoke from personal experience when explaining what can happen with PED use.

“You can make a mistake on purpose or on accident,” Byrd said. “Some guys make it on accident. Some guys make it on purpose. There’s nobody up here that can talk about this better than I can because I’ve done it twice. One time on purpose, one time on accident. To speak for another man and what he went through is tough. Did Robinson do it or not? Only he knows. Nobody else is going to know, but what you have to do is take your suspension.”