Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo grew up in the Windy City, so the prospect of an NLDS matchup with Chicago, which is one Cubs’ win or a Milwaukee Brewers’ loss away from being official, had him pretty excited when he talked about it with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this morning.
“I’m really looking forward to this one,” Rizzo said. “I grew up on Waveland Avenue in Chicago my whole life. It would be great to knock these guys out of the playoffs.
“Joe Maddon was my minor league manager way back in the day so we go way back together, and looking forward to knocking these guys off. It would be fun.”
Rizzo told the Sports Junkies last week that the Nats were hard at work scouting all potential opponents, including Chicago, in preparation for postseason matchups.
“We’ve been on them since probably — I think we started on those teams on the 15th of September,” Rizzo said.
“We’ve got a couple other teams covered also, and we’ll peel those teams off and get into the American League after they get eliminated.
“So we’re covering five teams right now, some more vigorously than others, but those guys have been out and about getting their looks at them.”
The next step, he explained today, is to gather together and share what they saw now that they know who their first round opponent will be.
“We’ve got guys that are on the Cubs that are advancing them,” he explained.
“We’ll do our video advance at the ballpark with our video advance guys, we’ll meet as a staff and as a team and put together the game plan on how to beat them, and we’ll assess where each and every guy is at.”
In spite of the Cubs’ recent issues with their starting staff, with Jake Arrieta battling a right hamstring strain, and Jon Lester struggling with a 4.94 ERA and a .299/.385/.495 line against in five starts and 27 1⁄3 innings pitched in September, Rizzo said he wasn’t taking Chicago lightly at all knowing what they bring to the table as a team.
“They’re playoff savvy, they’re battle-tested, they won a World Series last year,” Rizzo said.
“They know what it takes to win, and they’re going to be a really tough opponent to play. We’re really looking forward to it, and can’t wait to finish the season out strong, give a tip of the cap to our great fan base out there, then strap it on and get these playoffs moving.”