By now, you've probably watched "Back to the Future II" and know the scene in the 1989 movie where Marty McFly realizes the Cubs won the 2015 World Series. Could it happen this year? Here are five reasons why the Cubs, who will face the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Wednesday in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, live on TBS at 7 p.m. CT, could win the World Series.
• Jake Arrieta is probably fit enough to pitch every game, but that's not likely. Still, his rotation mates are peaking at the right time. If Arrieta can continue his Bob Gibson-like second-half success and Jon Lester is able to deliver in the playoffs, the Cubs could end the 100-plus year drought. Lester has a career 6-4 record and 2.57 ERA in the postseason, including a 3-0 record and 0.43 ERA in the World Series. Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks both have pitched well in September.
• One of manager Joe Maddon's messages to the players is "never let the pressure exceed the pleasure," which Kris Bryant says is his favorite saying. If Bryant and Addison Russell, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber can ignore the hype and hoopla surrounding postseason games, they could do something no team has done, and that's win with so many rookie regulars.
The Cubs have had six players 25 or younger, get at least 200 plate appearances. According to ESPN, of the last 20 teams to do that in the Wild Card era, two have had winning records: the 2005 Braves and the 2007 D-backs. The other 18 teams averaged 95 losses. However, the Cubs also lead the Majors in strikeouts and rank next to last in the NL in batting average with runners in scoring position.
• Catcher Miguel Montero already has predicted Starlin Castro will be the MVP of the postseason, and it would be quite a turnaround. Castro was batting .236 when Maddon took him out of the lineup on Aug. 7, and instead of pouting, Castro has accepted the move from shortstop to second and made adjustments at the plate. He led the NL in batting in September, hitting .426.
• Postseason series often come down to a battle of the bullpens, and it could be an unexpected arm that helps propel the Cubs to the promised land. Travis Wood accepted a demotion from the rotation and has thrived. Clayton Richard, an in-season pickup, also has handled the switch well. Chicago's bullpen ranked fifth in the NL in ERA, and the Cubs' pitching staff as a whole led the league in September with a 2.73 ERA. Hector Rondon began the year as the closer, was bumped to setup for a stretch and will finish among the top three relievers in ERA plus a career high in saves (30).
• If anyone can shrug off talk about curses, goats and waiting more than a century for a World Series, it's Maddon. Remember, he's not superstitious, just "a little 'stitious" and did confess to wearing the same pair of camouflage-patterned socks during a winning streak. He also stayed in the same resort during the All-Star break that he did in 2008 when the Rays reached the World Series.
"I do vibrate on a different frequency," Maddon said. "I'm not worried about that stuff. I don't understand those kind of concepts. For me, it's a moot point."