The Chicago Cubs need a win on Friday to keep their season alive, as they trail the Cinderella Miami Marlins 1-0 in their National League wild card series.
Yu Darvish will take the mound for the Cubs with the chance to justify his six-year, $126 million contract by giving Chicago a desperately needed strong postseason performance.
Darvish Brilliant in 2020, Shaky in Postseason
The 34-year-old Darvish has stepped up for the Cubs during the shortened 2020 season. The right-hander led the majors with eight wins while posting a 2.01 ERA over 76 innings, potentially throwing himself into Cy Young Award consideration.
But Darvish has been shaky in the playoffs historically. He has a 2-4 record with a 5.81 ERA in six postseason starts, though he hasn’t made a playoff appearance since he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017. In that series, he lasted only a combined 3.1 innings in two starts while giving up eight earned runs.
Cubs vs. Marlins Odds (Game 2)
- Marlins (Sanchez): +174
- Cubs (Darvish): -200
- Marlins (+1.5): -122
- Cubs (-1.5): +104
- Cubs: +164
- Marlins: -194
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
The Marlins entered the 2020 season as the consensus pick to finish last in the NL East. They became the first team to experience a COVID-19 outbreak among its ranks, losing significant time early in the season as a result. Yet Miami still finished with a 31-29 record, and is now just one game away from making an appearance in the NLDS.
22-year-old Sixto Sanchez (3-2, 3.46 ERA) gets the start for the Marlins. The NL Rookie of the Year candidate struggled down the stretch, however, giving up nine runs in seven innings over his final two starts.
“Hopefully, he’s on the attack [Friday],” Miami manager Don Mattingly told reporters. “Sixto’s stuff is as good as anybody’s. He throws strikes with everything. We’re going to push him to be aggressive.”
The Cubs come into Game 2 as a significant favorite, with FanDuel Sportsbook posting Chicago as a -200 pick over Miami (+174).
Marte Available to Play, Likely Can’t Hit
The Marlins learned some good news on Friday morning. Outfielder Starling Marte will be able to pinch run or serve as a defensive substitution in Game 2 after suffering a fracture in his left hand during Wednesday’s 5-1 Game 1 victory. Mattingly told SiriusXM radio that Marte likely won’t be able to bat on Friday, but the extra day off – thanks to a rainout on Thursday – may have improved the 31-year-old’s availability.
The Cubs entered the series as a clear favorite, but now stand as +164 underdogs to win the three-game series. If Chicago fails to advance, it will continue the franchise’s recent playoff futility. The Cubs haven’t won a postseason series since 2017.
“We’re not going to go out there and play with a demeanor that we can’t make a mistake or play tight,” Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber told reporters. “It’s just the reality of the situation. We need to play our baseball, which is really good baseball, doing the little things right and making sure we’re really good in situations. That’s our baseball.”
The winner of this series will advance to take on the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta swept Cincinnati, shutting out the Reds in two consecutive games to reach the NLDS.