As the Cubs get ready to take on the L.A. Dodgers this week in the NLDS, it’s a good bet that the benches will be a big part of whichever team comes out on top. With that being said, here is a breakdown of the Chicago Cubs bench (pending which players are on the playoff roster):
The Cubs starting lineup is most likely going to be predominantly right handed, however, looking at the bench, there are enough left-handers to balance them out, especially in the late innings. Given that the Dodgers have mostly right handed pitching, this could be to the Cubs advantage. Here’s a look at some of the key players:
Kosuke Fukodome: Kosuke was an All Star at the half way point of the season, but has been hitting .217 since the break. However, he still has the arm and glove out in right field that makes him valuable as a late inning defensive replacement. With Mark DeRosa still nursing the bad calf, Kosukemay actually find himself starting in Right Field.
Micah Hoffpauir: The Cubs Minor League Player of the Year, put himself onto the playoff roster with a solid September. Since being called up at the beginning of September, he has hit .306, which included a 5/5 performance with 2 HR, against the Mets on Sept. 25th. He was not as patient in the last with 5 K’s in his last 11 at bats, but he should still be a valuable left-handed bat in the playoffs. He could find himself starting in right field, if Lou Piniella decides to put DeRosa at 2nd.
Mike Fontenot: “Little Babe Ruth” has been a spark plug for the Cubs all year. He has hit at a .305 clip and has an OBP of .395 for the year and has a slugging percentage of .514. Against right-handers, he is slugging .520. He is another valuable left-hander that can come off the bench.
Ronnie Cedeno: Cendeno has been a valuable fill-in up the middle all year, giving DeRosa and Ryan Theriot breathers, and stepping in when there were injuries. Cedeno has also been used as a pinch runner in late innings. Look for him to come off the bench in double switches late in games and also if the Cubs have a runner in scoring position late in a tie game.
Felix Pie: Pie may make the roster as a defensive replacement in the outfield. He would also be used as a pinch-runner in close games. While Pie has show flashes at times, he hasn’t been able to maintain it with the big club. It will either be him or Hoffpauir making the roster. Pie gives the Cubs a better defensive presence.
Jim Edmonds/Reed Johnson: The two-man platoon in center field has continued to make the Cubs solid up the middle. While Edmonds has not hit for average in the second half, his OBP has remained at .369 and his slugging percentage has climbed to .586 (vs. .552 in the first half of the season). Johnson has been consistent throughout the year, hitting at a .303 clip, with a .358 OBP. Edmonds has done most of his damage against right-handers, and with the predominantly right handed pitching staff of the Dodgers, look for Edmonds to get most of the playing time.
The Cubs have shown all year that they are one of, if not, the deepest teams in the league. Look for the Piniella and the Cubs to utilize their bench to the fullest and play the match-ups.