The 2020 shortened regular season hasn’t been perfect by any means for the Cubs, but in a year with many different challenges, intricacies and obstacles, when the time came, they did what they needed to do.
The Cubs closed the regular season with a 10-8 victory against the White Sox on Sunday and after locking up home-field advantage with the NL Central division title on Saturday, they now turn their attention to the postseason.
“This wasn’t a normal year and it had its difficulties that we had to adjust to,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “So I think it does make you a better team for it.”
Whether it was the bullpen’s early struggles, the lack of offensive production or unforeseen injuries, the Cubs adjusted and with the postseason beginning, that resilience could be their strength this October.
“Coming out on the other side of a season like this really feels rewarding,” manager David Ross said. “This was a unique season, a challenging season for a lot of reasons and all these guys have been on top of their performance. Some of them expect more out of themselves, I think it’s just a huge bonus. They’ve gotten this far and it’s almost like a reset.”
Sunday’s game didn’t have meaning in terms of postseason standings, but the series was hopefully a steppingstone going into Game 1, especially at the plate.
The offense came into the weekend series at a low point after it scored eight runs over four games against the Pirates, but turned it on against the Sox, scoring 25 runs over three games with several key players contributing.
Third baseman Kris Bryant homered for the second consecutive day, crushing a 446-foot solo shot off Reynaldo Lopez in the second inning to set the tone.
“I think [the offense] buckled down and took these last couple of games to get right and feel better about going into this postseason,” Kipnis said. “Their resilience was able to showcase that these guys pushed through their numbers.
“They didn’t like what they were seeing on the board, and they haven’t had that strong of a year, but I think they fought to get into feeling good going into the postseason and hit the reset button. I think that’s all you can ask for.”
The Cubs now will host the Marlins, who clinched the NL’s No. 6 seed, in Game 1 of a three-game wild-card series starting Wednesday.
Four of the eight teams being represented in the NL will come from the Central Division, as the Brewers, Cardinals and Reds all clinched spots in the postseason.
Unlike other years, the Cubs haven’t played the Marlins this season, adding yet another wrinkle to a unique 2020 season.
“We’ll get to know them,” Kipnis said. “Normally, whoever you see in the playoffs is someone who you’ve already seen that year. But the same goes for them — they haven’t really seen us this year — so that’s the fun part about this.
“I think it’ll be a good series. I know that but it’ll come down to some research and scouting reports, and that part will be really important this next few days getting to know our opponent so we have an idea by the time we see them.”