CHICAGO -- The Cubs likely began their last series of 2012 against a contender Friday afternoon, as the Cardinals -- one of the National League Wild Card leaders -- came to Wrigley Field.
After this weekend, Chicago closes the season with three games each against the Rockies, D-backs and Astros. Only the D-backs, with a 5 1/2-game deficit in the Wild Card, are mathematically still alive for the postseason.
Without the fortunes of other contending teams hinging on the outcome of games against the Rockies and Astros, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday he will use his bench more than he has the past two months, giving even more guys opportunities.
"No doubt about it," Sveum said. "You'll change it up a bit."
That goes for the bullpen, as well as the lineup. Part of the reason is because two of the club's go-to relievers are at, near or already have surpassed career highs.
Right-hander Shawn Camp has matched his career high of 75 appearances and is 6 2/3 innings shy of the highest workload of his career.
Lefty James Russell already has worked in a career-high 71 games, and he's 4 1/3 innings from establishing a new high in that category.
Sveum said the Cubs would like to only use Camp and Russell in games they're winning, giving others ample opportunity to contribute.
"We don't want [their workload] to go any higher when we're losing baseball games," Sveum said. "We'll get enough looks at the all these guys in these next 12 games."