Cubs prep for postseason, Reds prepare to go home (Oct 01, 2017)

CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds close out the regular season Sunday afternoon moving in different directions.

The defending World Series champion Cubs (92-69) are gearing up for another postseason and the Reds (67-94) — last in the National League Central — will head home.

Left-hander Mike Montgomery (7-8, 3.45 ERA) will pitch in place of Jake Arrieta, who will instead throw a simulated game Wednesday. Montgomery allowed one hit — a solo home run — in six innings against Tampa Bay in his last start on Sept. 19.

Montgomery has been both a starter and a reliever this season, and his last two outings have come out of the bullpen. He is 1-1 with a 3.42 ERA in 10 career games, including two starts, against Cincinnati. In his last two outings against the Reds, he has thrown 10 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Cubs have yet to announce their playoff roster or starting rotation. They’re expected to hold simulated games Tuesday and Wednesday, with Arrieta and Jose Quintana pitching Wednesday.

Arrieta missed about two weeks in September due to a sore right hamstring. Manager Joe Maddon remained mum about who will start Game 1 and beyond against the Washington Nationals in the NLDS, though it appears Arrieta or Quintana would pitch Game 3.

“We’ll go with our pecking order,” Maddon said.

The Cubs have been giving their regulars some rest after they clinched the NL Central on Wednesday.

But Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant played his 150th game of the season Saturday, making him the first player in team history to play at least 150 games in each of his first three major league seasons. Only 11 players in major league history have accomplished the feat.

“Most of the time, when guys come up, they’re not able to really handle that number of games or they’re not good enough to be put in the lineup that many times,” Maddon said. “Just give him credit.

“You really can’t underestimate how difficult it is to be an everyday player in this league. It takes a lot of mental strength to be able to do that.

“You’re going to have your bad days, you’re going to have bumps and bruises, you’re going to be hurting, you’re not going to want to play, you’ve got a cold, you’ve got a cough, I don’t want to play, but you play. It’s quite an achievement in our game to be able to do that.”

For the Reds, first baseman Joey Votto has started every game this season. He leads the majors in reaching base 319 times. If he starts Sunday, he would be the first Reds player to start every game in a non-strike regular season since Pete Rose in 1975.

“He’s never looked like he’s needed a break,” Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters. “He knows himself. He’s as prepared as anybody.”

Right-hander Deck McGuire (0-1, 4.15) will make his second major league start and sixth overall appearance Sunday. He has never faced the Cubs.

The Cubs lead the season series against the Reds 12-6 after winning 5-4 Friday and 9-0 Saturday.