Jose Quintana to start for Cubs in tiebreaker to decide NL Central

ByJesse Rogers ESPN logo
Monday, October 1, 2018

CHICAGO -- Thanks to an 11-8 head-to-head record against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Chicago Cubs will get to host Game No. 20 between the teams Monday afternoon to decide the National League Central division winner.

"It's to our advantage and to their advantage," Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said Sunday afternoon. "Whatever they're going to do [Monday], we know all their pitches, all their position players and vice-versa."

Both teams won their respective games Sunday, leading to the tiebreaker (1:05 p.m. ET, ESPN), in which Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs, likely against Jhoulys Chacin, though Milwaukee has yet to confirm its starter.

"We've done better against [Chacin] more recently, but it's a different animal [Monday]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Everyone is going to have this heightened awareness.

"We need a good start out of Q. That's going to be important for us to be successful for us tomorrow. That's a big part of it."

Also a big part for the Cubs is for their offense to show up as it did Sunday. After getting down 2-0, they outscored the St. Louis Cardinals10-3, helping to get them to Game No. 163. Scoring has been an issue at every turn in the second half for the 2016 World Series champions. Finally, they broke out. Rizzo was on base five times.

"A lot of two-outs rallies," he said. "We usually have good success when we do that."

In fact, the Cubs scored all four runs with two outs in a key third inning rally. They'll need more of the same on Monday, as Maddon indicated scoring early is a particular key in the game.

"You're managing two games," he stated. "Trying to make your best guess. That's all you can do."

He's is referring to the fact that the loser of Monday's game gets to host the wild-card game the next night, so if all is lost early in Game No.163, then it might be best for the trailing team not to deploy its best relievers.

"Of course you want to win, but if it gets more bleak, you have to start considering the next day," Maddon said. "Today, I'm looking at our game, their game, tomorrow's game, and then the day after that's game. You're thinking about all that in one breath."

The Cubs are also thinking about two key players for Milwaukee, MVP candidate Christian Yelichand relieverJosh Hader. Yelich, more than likely, will beat out Cubs infielderJavier Baezfor the award after a huge September -- which will include one more game.

"It's been incredible," Rizzo said. "Getting traded to a new organization, contending, and what he's done, it's been fun to watch. It's one of those special runs."

As for Hader, he'll be part of the cat-and-mouse game Maddon and Brewers manager Craig Counsell will be playing. He can neutralize key lefty batters from the Cubs side -- though Rizzo homered off him earlier this season. Meanwhile, Maddon will need to be strategic with his own lefty relievers, as no team has a more devastating left-handed lineup than Milwaukee.

"We have more weapons against them," Maddon said in reference to using an expanded roster for the tiebreaker. "And they have Hader in their back pocket for [Monday]. We've played each other often. It's not like we don't know one another."

The Cubs won seven of the first eight games against Milwaukee this season, but the Brewers took seven of the final 11, as the series was as tight as you would imagine. The Cubs outscored the Brewers 60-54, and most of that differential came early in the season series.

"We know their team really well," Rizzo said. "It's going to be a battle. It's been a battle all year. Having the home-field advantage is huge."

As for the starting pitchers, based on history, Quintana is the right man for the Cubs, as he's 6-2 with a 1.60 ERA against the Brewers in 10 starts, including a 2.17 ERA in six starts this year.

Meanwhile, Chacin has been equally good, sporting a 1.59 ERA in four starts against the Cubs in 2018. It should be a great game, while Rizzo found the silver lining for the loser.

"Both teams are lucky that win or lose, we're playing the wild-card game at home," he said. "We've put ourselves in a position to come down to one game to win the division and get a couple days off."

Both teams play past Monday, but only one will get home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs and a couple of days to rest before the NLDS begins.

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