MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Chappily ever after: Final outs for the ages

Cubs call on closer with one on in eighth, and he seals clinch

Chappily ever after: Final outs for the ages

CHICAGO -- In a postseason filled with unconventional pitching decisions and bullpen moves by the managers, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon inserting closer Aroldis Chapman into the eighth inning with a man on first base in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on Saturday didn't seem, on its face, all that unusual.

Except, of course, for the fact that Chapman had not been very effective the other times Maddon turned to the flame-throwing left-hander in anything but the start of the ninth inning, void of baserunners and distractions.

Continue Reading

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers left to ponder what went wrong

Dodgers left to ponder what went wrong

CHICAGO -- Oh, how the Dodgers know the drill.

Four straight years they've watched October opponents go dog-pile-silly celebrating on the field. Then they trudge to the clubhouse, empty their lockers and pack their bags for a grim flight home and the start of another offseason of anguish. This time it resulted from Saturday night's 5-0 Game 6 loss to the Cubs and elimination from the National League Championship Series.

Continue Reading

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Goat of confidence! Cubs like WS chances

Goat of confidence! Cubs like WS chances

CHICAGO -- Next year? Did somebody say next year?

That's so 2015 for the Cubs.

Continue Reading

Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wait of the World: Cubs win NL pennant!

Wait of the World: Cubs win NL pennant!

CHICAGO -- For the first time since 1945, the Cubs are going to the World Series. You shouldn't be surprised. That's been their plan since Spring Training, when manager Joe Maddon told them to embrace the target. All they had to do to erase years of angst was have the pitcher with the best ERA in the Majors in 2016 beat the best pitcher on the planet, and Kyle Hendricks did just that on Saturday night.

Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras each belted solo home runs to back Hendricks -- who outdueled Clayton Kershaw -- and power the Cubs to a 5-0 victory over the Dodgers to take the National League Championship Series, four games to two, at a rocking Wrigley Field. Yes, the Cubs are going to the World Series.

Continue Reading

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Loss to Cubs leaves 'sour taste' for Dodgers

Loss to Cubs leaves 'sour taste' for Dodgers

CHICAGO -- Just a few days ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared to be legitimate World Series contenders.

But on Saturday night, when it mattered most, they were reduced to the role of history's handmaiden. This was a team that had risen above adversity and moved forward in 2016, but here they were merely supporting actors -- bit players and extras in the drama of the Chicago Cubs reaching the Fall Classic for the first time in 71 years.

Continue Reading

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fly The WS! Rarefied air for Wrigley, fans

Fly The WS! Rarefied air for Wrigley, fans

CHICAGO -- Jimmy Orlandi passed away last summer, one year before the Cubs made history by claiming their first National League pennant since 1945 with a 5-0 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night at Wrigley Field.

TJ Orlandi, Jimmy's grandson, carried on the Cubs fandom as part of the excited throng of people making their way to Wrigley Field throughout Saturday's contest. In fact, the apartment where Orlandi and his friends live on Sheffield, about one-half block from the stadium, became a focal point for approximately 100 fans over the last two innings, with the game being shown on a front-porch television.

Continue Reading

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toles' error compounds Dodgers' fielding woes

Speedy left fielder lost ball in lights in first inning, opening door for Cubs

Toles' error compounds Dodgers' fielding woes

CHICAGO -- The Dodgers' troubles in their 5-0 elimination loss to the Cubs in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night started early, with an error by rookie left fielder Andrew Toles in the first inning.

Dexter Fowler's ground-rule double was cashed in by Kris Bryant's single, Anthony Rizzo sent an opposite-field line drive to the left-center gap. The speedy Toles ran it down, but at the last second lost the ball in the lights and dropped it for a two-base error that left runners on second and third. Ben Zobrist's sacrifice fly gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Continue Reading

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Critical free-agent decisions await Dodgers

Critical free-agent decisions await Dodgers

CHICAGO -- The Dodgers' front office must quickly turn attention to the business of the offseason and 11 potential free agents, most notably closer Kenley Jansen and third baseman Justin Turner.

Also eligible to leave are pitchers Brett Anderson, Joe Blanton, Rich Hill, J.P. Howell and Jesse Chavez; infielder Chase Utley; and outfielder Josh Reddick.

Continue Reading

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Series-bound Cubs praise Kershaw, Dodgers

Series-bound Cubs praise Kershaw, Dodgers

CHICAGO -- As Wrigleyville erupted in a celebration 71 years in the making, the Dodgers filed back to a cramped visitors' clubhouse left as the latest to be overpowered by a Cubs team that has been baseball's best for months.

But while Game 6 of the National League Championship Series got away from the Dodgers early and ended with the Cubs sailing to a 5-0 victory at Wrigley Field on Saturday night, several within the Cubs' organization took time amid the postgame celebration to recognize the formidable opponent they had just toppled.

Continue Reading

Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Did you know? NLCS Game 6

Did you know? NLCS Game 6

After 71 long years, the Cubs are headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs defeated Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, 5-0, in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night at Wrigley Field, claiming the franchise's first pennant and World Series appearance since 1945.

Continue Reading

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyRsports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Statcast of the Day: Cubs get to Kershaw

Statcast of the Day: Cubs get to Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the world, again found himself on the mound with the Dodgers' season in the balance, and this time he just didn't have it. Kershaw's elite arsenal and command deserted him in Los Angeles' season-ending 5-0 loss to the Cubs in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

On Saturday night at Wrigley Field, the Cubs hit Kershaw as hard as any team has all season, taking advantage of his uncharacteristically shaky command to score five times and force their way into the World Series. It was a complete reversal from Game 2 in Chicago, when the Dodgers' ace silenced the Cubs' bats over seven two-hit innings.

Continue Reading

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Catch this: Cubs' catchers make HR history

Chicago is first team to have all three backstops go deep in same postseason

Catch this: Cubs' catchers make HR history

A catcher's tasks over the course of a game are clearly defined: Call the game for the pitcher, coordinate the infield defense and hit at the plate -- usually in that order.

But in this year's National League playoffs, the Cubs' catchers exceeded all expectations at the plate, matching average with power. In fact, Chicago is the first team in history to have all three of its catchers hit a home run in the same postseason, helping to propel the Cubs to their first NL pennant since 1945.

Continue Reading

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

No drought: Cubs put curse, Kersh to rest

In first World Series since '45, club shifts focus to Francona, Indians

No drought: Cubs put curse, Kersh to rest

CHICAGO -- Less than an hour after the Cubs had secured their first trip to the World Series since 1945, chairman Tom Ricketts, former pitcher Kerry Wood and Hall of Famer Billy Williams had a quiet moment in the clubhouse. They tapped their drinks together in a toast to a team that has a chance to do something that hasn't been done in more than 100 years.

The Cubs posted the best record in the Major Leagues this season, winning 103 games, and now need four more wins to claim their first World Series since 1908. Chicago earned the trip with a 5-0 win over Los Angeles at Wrigley Field on Saturday night to take the National League Championship Series, four games to two.

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trouble with the curve: Kershaw can't follow script

With no command of pitch, Dodgers' ace unable to extend strong postseason

Trouble with the curve: Kershaw can't follow script

CHICAGO -- For Clayton Kershaw, narrative met reality in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

After making so much progress this postseason to erase the notion that he can't pitch in October, Kershaw showed up to Game 6 without a curveball, and the Cubs made him pay. They coaxed 93 pitches in Kershaw's five fruitless innings on Saturday, scoring in four of those frames on the way to a pennant-clinching, 5-0 win at Wrigley Field.

Continue Reading

Adam McCalvy has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lester, Baez share MVP honors

Lester, Baez share MVP honors

CHICAGO -- On one side there was the seasoned postseason pitcher the Cubs pursued two winters ago with the vision that he could get this franchise to where it hadn't been in decades. On the other was a second baseman who has used this October stage to emerge as one of the game's rising stars.

And together, Jon Lester and Javier Baez hoisted the MVP trophy, having been named as co-recipients for their performances in this National League Championship Series that the Cubs closed out with a 5-0 win over the Dodgers on Saturday.

Continue Reading

Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Game times: 2016 World Series on FOX

Game times: 2016 World Series on FOX

The World Series will air on FOX. All World Series games are available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to the applicable network through a participating pay TV provider.

Shop for World Series gear: Cubs | Indians

Continue Reading

Former Cubs Soriano, Wood on hand for Game 6

Former Cubs Soriano, Wood on hand for Game 6

CHICAGO -- Seven-time All-Star Alfonso Soriano played in Chicago long enough during his 16-year Major League career to understand the anxiety -- "angst," as manager Joe Maddon described it -- Cubs fans were experiencing in the hours leading up to Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night.

"The city's waited for so long," Soriano said. "I hope they have the opportunity to celebrate tonight."

Continue Reading

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs get to Kershaw early in NLCS clincher

Bryant, Zobrist notch RBIs in two-run first; Contreras, Rizzo belt solo HRs

Cubs get to Kershaw early in NLCS clincher

CHICAGO -- As Wrigleyville teemed with anticipation about a potential historic night ahead, the Cubs gave the sellout crowd an early reason to cheer -- and relax -- by jumping on Clayton Kershaw for two first-inning runs in a 5-0 Game 6 victory in the National League Championship Series on Saturday night. With the win, the Cubs advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1945.

After being shut out by Kershaw for seven innings in Game 2, the Cubs wasted no time giving their starter, Kyle Hendricks, an opportunity to pitch with the lead. After Hendricks breezed through the top half of the first on nine pitches, Dexter Fowler opened the bottom half of the frame by dropping a ground-rule double in along the right-field foul line. Kris Bryant followed with an RBI single, giving the Cubs a lead just seven pitches in.

Continue Reading

Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hendricks a rock star: G6 start legendary

Hendricks a rock star: G6 start legendary

CHICAGO -- The text arrived early Saturday, just as it does on the morning before each of the son's starts. John Hendricks scripts it to be simple -- "You don't want to clutter him" -- and positive, hoping it's a reminder that Dad is watching and rooting and so very proud.

"Good luck tonight," started the message to a 26-year-old about to make the biggest start of his life. "Remember, great mechanics and preparation will prevail. Just let it go."

Continue Reading

Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Roberts drops Utley to eighth in batting order

Roberts drops Utley to eighth in batting order

CHICAGO -- Chase Utley has played in seven postseasons, two World Series and has a ring. But prior to Saturday night's elimination game, what he hasn't done lately carried the day for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

Utley, the Dodgers' leadoff man for nearly the entire 2016 season, was dropped to eighth in the lineup, with rookie Andrew Toles batting leadoff for the first time as a Major Leaguer. Utley went 0-for-2 in the Dodgers' 5-0 loss to the Cubs in Game 6 of the NLCS, as Chicago won the series, 4-2, to clinch a spot in the World Series.

Continue Reading

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Schwarber to AFL; World Series a possibility?

Cubs slugger makes Fall League debut as DH for Mesa

Schwarber to AFL; World Series a possibility?

CHICAGO -- On Monday, Kyle Schwarber went to Dallas for the six-month checkup on his left knee, which was injured in the third game of the regular season. Both he and the Cubs were surprised when he got the go-ahead to play games, and he could be on the roster for the World Series.

Schwarber played for the Mesa Solar Sox on Saturday night in Arizona, and he monitored the Cubs' 5-0 win over the Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on an iPad in the dugout. He went 0-for-3 with a walk, and his Arizona Fall League teammates sprayed him with champagne in the clubhouse so he could be part of the celebration in Chicago. The Cubs are going to the World Series. Schwarber may be going, too.

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

NLCS Game 6 starting lineups: Dodgers vs. Cubs

NLCS Game 6 starting lineups: Dodgers vs. Cubs

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon inserted rookie Albert Almora Jr. in right field for tonight's Game 6 of the National League Championship Series and sat Jason Heyward, who is 2-for-28 in the postseason so far.

The best-of-seven series between the Dodgers and the Cubs resumes at 8 p.m. ET at Wrigley Field. Chicago, leading 3-2, would clinch a World Series berth with a victory. The winner of the NLCS will face the Indians in the Fall Classic, which begins Tuesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The warmup: The scene before Game 6

The warmup: The scene before Game 6

With a spot in the World Series at stake, we're on the scene around Chicago and at Wrigley Field prior to Game 6 (8 p.m. ET/7CT/5 PT on FS1) of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and Cubs to help get you fired up for tonight's game.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will face off against right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who hopes to lead the Cubs to their first World Series appearance since 1945.

Continue Reading

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

New approach against lefties big key for Hendricks

OPS against lefties dropped from .797 to .616

New approach against lefties big key for Hendricks

The thing about National League Championship Series Game 6 starter Kyle Hendricks is that in some very important ways, he's exactly the same pitcher he was last year, when he had a 3.95 ERA. His strikeout percentage of just over 22 percent is identical. His walk rate of just over seven percent is identical. Even his exit velocity is largely unchanged, since the gap from last year's 88.3 mph to this year's 87.2 mph isn't all that significant.

Toss in a small decrease in home run rate, and Hendricks' Fielding Independent Pitching (an ERA-like stat that looks only at strikeouts, walks, and homers) of 3.20 this year isn't far off of last year's 3.36. So: How in the world did he then cut his ERA nearly in half, from 3.95 to 2.13?

Continue Reading

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lucky No. 7? Cubs 0-6 since '45 in potential NLCS clinchers

Lucky No. 7? Cubs 0-6 since '45 in potential NLCS clinchers

The Cubs are on the verge of claiming their first National League pennant in 71 years. With a win tonight against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, the Cubs would be four wins away from their first World Series championship since 1908 -- eight years before they moved into historic Wrigley Field. But they've been in this position before, only to come up short.

Six times since their last trip to the World Series in 1945, they were one win away.

Continue Reading

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Heyward should start Game 6 in right field

One win away from World Series, Cubs need their best defensive players in lineup

Heyward should start Game 6 in right field

CHICAGO -- From the first grisly scene to the climax, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" lasts 90 minutes. Running time on "The Exorcist" is two hours, 13 minutes.

It took 4 hours, 16 minutes to play Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, and the time spent watching Jason Heyward bat must have seemed like a horror film for Cubs fans.

Continue Reading

Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

How to attack Kershaw? Aggressiveness key

Dodgers ace's 69.7 percent first-pitch strike percentage is baseball's highest

How to attack Kershaw? Aggressiveness key

The Cubs managed to win Games 4 and 5 of the National League Championship Series in Los Angeles and turn a 2-1 series deficit into a 3-2 advantage, so now they return to Wrigley Field tonight with the chance to advance to their first World Series since 1945. Yes, really.

But while you can absolutely expect a party atmosphere on the North Side, there's still a pretty sizable roadblock standing between the Cubs and the Fall Classic. His name is Clayton Kershaw, and he's The Best Pitcher In Baseball -- and beyond that, his performance so far this October should do more than enough to put to rest any foolish narratives about how he "can't handle the postseason."

Continue Reading

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pitch perfect: Rest of NLCS could feature best

Hendricks, Kershaw, Arrieta and Hill boast major pitches that arguably rank among MLB's best

Pitch perfect: Rest of NLCS could feature best

As the National League Championship Series shifts back to Chicago with the Cubs up, 3-2, four of the best pitchers in the league are set to start if the Dodgers manage to force a decisive Game 7.

Kyle Hendricks, Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, and Rich Hill can all be ranked as elite pitchers, but there is also something notable about the combination of the four that makes this series so appealing to pitching fans. It could be argued that their combined arsenals sport the best fastball, slider, changeup and curveball in baseball. Here is an argument for each of them, backed by Statcast™ data.

Continue Reading

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross' storybook career nearing its end

Ross' storybook career nearing its end

CHICAGO -- Though he comes to bat while the words of Alphaville's "Forever Young" echo throughout Wrigley Field, David Ross understands there is no freezing time now.

Ross long ago announced his intentions to retire at the end of the year, plans he recently reaffirmed with "99.9 percent" certainty. Things are building toward a crescendo, too, as Ross, whose career has spanned 15 seasons with seven organizations, finds himself on a Cubs team one win from advancing to the World Series.

Continue Reading

Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.