Marlins vs Cubs – 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The Miami Marlins upset the Chicago Cubs in the 2003 NLCS by winning the final two games at Wrigley Field. Could the Marlins pull another upset of the Cubbies by winning Game 2 of their best-of-3 Wild-Card series on Friday to end things? The teams were supposed to play Game 2 on Thursday, but it was postponed by rain.

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Why Bet on Miami? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The big hero in the Marlins’ 5-1 Game 1 upset win was Corey Dickerson. He hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning. The Marlins were held scoreless by Kyle Hendricks until Dickerson put them on the board in the seventh. They also got a two-run homer from Jesus Aguilar in the frame, accounting for all of their runs on the day.

The 31-year-old Dickerson was playing in his first ever postseason game after spending time with five teams in eight big-league seasons. He hit .258/.311/.402 with seven homers during the regular season. Aguilar, who played with the Brewers during their run in 2018, has three homers and four doubles in 11 career postseason games.

The news wasn’t all good for the Marlins as Starling Marte, a late-season trade acquisition from Arizona, was hit by a pitch in the left hand by Dan Winkler in the ninth inning. X-rays revealed a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal. If this were the regular-season, Marte would miss a while. He hit .281 with 6 home runs, 27 RBIs and 10 stolen bases this season.

However, he’s going to try and play through it, although Marte was not in the original Game 2 lineup Thursday. Marte was to have been replaced by Magneuris Sierra in center field. It’s thought that Marte will not be able to hit but could pinch run or play defense.

It will be good-looking rookie Sixto Sanchez on the mound Friday. His most recent outing was back on Sept. 23 in Atlanta. Sanchez went just three innings while allowing four runs in a loss to the Braves. After an impressive start to his MLB career, Sanchez has scuffled in his last two outings. Command has been an issue in those two starts, and he threw just 44-of-75 pitches for strikes. The 22-year-old allowed just six runs in his first five starts, but has given up nine in his last two starts.  He finished with 3.46 ERA and 33/11 K/BB mark over 39 innings.

Sanchez averaged 97.6 MPH on his fastball during the regular season, third fastest among MLB starters behind the Mets’ Jacob deGrom (98.6) and the Dodgers’ Dustin May (98.0). Has had 12 pitches recorded at least 100 MPH. At 22 years, 65 days of age, he will become the youngest pitcher in franchise history to make his postseason debut as a starter.

A big reason the Marlins have never lost a playoff series is that they almost always get off to a good start. The Fish improved their Game 1 record to 6-1 with Wednesday’s win, the best in postseason history.

Why Bet on Chicago? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The Cubs struggled offensively down the stretch and that continued in the 5-1 loss in Game 1. The only player who did much was Ian Happ. He went 2-for-4 and homered for the Cubs’ lone run. Happ had struggled during the final three weeks of the season and dealt with an ankle injury last week. The dinger was his first since Sept. 5. Including the regular season, Happ has five homers in 13 games against Miami. He became just the second switch-hitter in franchise history to homer in a postseason game, joining Dexter Fowler, who hit five homers spanning the 2015-16 postseasons.

The Cubs’ offense picked up where it left off in the regular season, garnering just four hits in a stadium in which they produced the lowest batting average by the home team in history. The Cubs fell to 9-17-1 all-time in the first game of a postseason series.

Chicago has an 11-17 all-time record in postseason elimination games, including Wild Card games in 2015 (W @ PIT) and 2018 (L vs. COL). In games in which only the Cubs are facing elimination, the team is 7-13. Chicago is 10-14 all-time in postseason series Game 2s. The last three times the Cubs won a game two, the team went on to win the series: 2015 NLDS vs. St. Louis, 2016 NLDS vs. San Francisco and 2016 World Series vs. Cleveland.

It’s ace Yu Darvish on the bump here. Darvish led the N.L. and tied for the major league lead with Cleveland’s Shane Bieber with eight victories. Darvish’s 2.01 ERA (17 ER/76.0 IP) and 6.64 strikeouts to walk ratio were both second in the N.L. while his 0.96 WHIP ranked fourth and his 93 strikeouts tied for fourth.

Darvish walked just 14 on the season, striking out 93, good for an average of 11.01 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. He limited opponents to a .253 on-base percentage and .575 OPS, both fourth-best among N.L. hurlers. Darvish is making his first playoff appearance since signing with Chicago before the 2018 season. He is 2-4 with a 5.81 ERA in six career postseason starts.

Watch for the confident Marlins to push the envelope against Darvish as they attempt to sweep the Cubs. Darvish can be deliberate to the plate, and if the Marlins get runners on, they will try to force the issue.

Expert Prediction Cubs 3, Marlins 2

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