Postseason storylines: Cubs hope to change fortunes; David Ortiz eyes storybook end

The MLB postseason opens this week with no shortage of intrigue as the Chicago Cubs try to snap the longest title drought in professional sports history while Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz seeks a storybook ending to his career.

The Cubs, who over the years have endured plenty of heartache, boast a stacked lineup and rock-solid pitching that have made them the odds-on favorite to shed their "lovable losers" image and win their first World Series title since 1908.

Chicago, who were the only MLB team to reach the 100-win mark this year, open their playoff campaign at home on Friday in a best-of-five National League Division Series versus the winner of Wednesday's one-game wild card showdown between the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets.

SEE MORE: Where all MLB playoff teams stand entering the playoffs

The Cubs checked all the boxes they set out to achieve during the regular season, and even went beyond one goal by winning 103 games, and as a result have no plans to change their approach for the postseason.

"There's nothing different to do right now except play the game," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "It's about whether your pitcher pitches better, if we catch the ball. I don't want us to do anything differently."

The other NL matchup will see a pitching-rich Los Angeles Dodgers team that tore though the second half of the 162-game regular season battle the Washington Nationals.

The Nationals, who will host the series opener on Friday, have a solid pitching corps to complement their offense but will need to overcome injuries to a number of All-Stars if they are to erase memories of early playoff exits in 2012 and 2014.

The American League's top-seeded Texas Rangers, bolstered by one of MLB's most potent offenses and a deep starting rotation, open their division series at home on Thursday versus the winner of Tuesday's wild card showdown between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles.

In the other AL Division Series, Ortiz will lead the Red Sox into a best-of-five clash with the Cleveland Indians that starts on Thursday in Ohio.

22 PHOTOS
25 best baseball players of last 25 years
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25 best baseball players of last 25 years

Honorable Mentions:

Craig Biggio, Roy Halladay, Trevor Hoffman, Mike Mussina, Joe Mauer, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Jeff Bagwell, Eric Gagne, CC Sabathia, Tim Hudson, Chase Utley, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, Juan Gonzalez, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitle, Curt Schilling, Bobby Abreu, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Beltran, Edgar Martinez, Johan Santana, Jason Giambi, Raphael Palmiero, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff.

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

25. Mike Trout

Rookie of the Year, MVP, 4-time All-Star

(Harry How via Getty Images)

24. Jim Thome

600+ home runs, 5-time All-Star, 72.9 bWAR

(BRIAN BAHR via Getty Images)

23. John Smoltz

200+ wins, 150+ saves, 8-time All-Star

(Doug Pensinger via Getty Images)

22. Frank Thomas

2-time MVP, 4-time All-Star, 500+ home runs

(TIM ROBERTS via Getty Images)

20. David Ortiz

9-time All-Star, 3-time World Series champion, 400+ home runs

(Jim Rogash via Getty Images)

19. Vladimir Guerrero

9-time All-Star, MVP, 400+ home runs, .318 batting average, 126 outfield assists

(Doug Pensinger via Getty Images)

18. Tom Glavine

2-time Cy Young, 10-time All-Star, 300+ wins

(MARCOS TOWNSEND via Getty Images)

17. Randy Johnson

10-time All-Star, 5-time Cy Young winner, World Series champion

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

16. Manny Ramirez

12-time All-Star, 9-time Silver Slugger winner, 2-time World Series champion, 2,500+ hits, 555 home runs

(Stephen Dunn via Getty Images)

15. Greg Maddux

4 consecutive Cy Youngs, 8-time All-Star, 18-time Gold Glove

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

14. Miguel Cabrera

10-time All-Star, 2-time MVP, 400+ home runs

(Leon Halip via Getty Images)

13. Ivan Rodriguez

14-time All-Star, World Series champion, MVP, 13-time Gold Glove award, 7-time Silver Slugger winner, 300+ home runs

(Rich Pilling via Getty Images)

12. Albert Pujols

3-time MVP, 10-time All-Star, 500+ home runs, 2-time Gold Glove

(Rich Pilling via Getty Images)

11. Sammy Sosa

600+ home runs, 7-time All-Star, 6-time Silver Slugger

(New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

10. Mark McGwire

12-time All-Star, 583 home runs, 2-time World Series champion

(Sporting News Archive via Getty Images)

9. Ken Griffey Jr.

13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, MVP, 4-time home run champion

(Scott Rovak via Getty Images)

8. Derek Jeter

14-time All-Star, 5-time World Series champion, 3,000 hits, 5-time Gold Glove

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

3. Tony Gwynn

15-time All-Star, 7-time Silver Slugger winner, 8-time batting champion, 3,000+ hits

(Sporting News Archive via Getty Images)

2. Roger Clemens

7-time Cy Young winner, 357 wins, 11-time All-Star Game, 2-time World Series champion, MVP

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images)

1. Barry Bonds

Home run king (762), 14-time All-Star, 7-time MVP

(MIKE FIALA via Getty Images)

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For Boston's Ortiz, who already announced this would be his last MLB season, a fourth World Series title would allow him to put an exclamation point on what has already been one of the greatest final seasons by a player in MLB history.

In his 20th campaign, the 40-year-old slugger had a .315 batting average, 38 home runs, and 127 runs batted.

Ortiz built much of his reputation as one of the game's most feared hitters with several monumental postseason performances and his Boston teammates are hopeful Big Papi has one more deep run left in him.

"I've seen him for 10 years and it's pretty special," said long-time Ortiz teammate Dustin Pedroia.

"Every time there is a big situation, he's always finding a way to come through. We're going to enjoy the last games we have with him because it's pretty special what he's done."

7 PHOTOS
Ranking MLB stadiums
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Ranking MLB stadiums

29. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays

The only things worse than this warehouse-looking place are the metric measurements on the outfield walls.

(Shutterstock)

23. Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels

Nothin’ like some fake rocks in center field to really set the mood for a baseball game.

Flickr

22. Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians

The fact that it’s no longer Jacobs Field bumps this down at least five spots.

Flickr

21. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals

Can this place just stay out of the playoffs just once?

Flickr

19. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks

Center field is the deepest part of the stadium, guys. The wall doesn’t need to be that high.

Clintus McGintus/Flickr

5. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox

Relax, Fenway is definitely an amazing place to watch a game. But sitting directly behind a pole and/or facing the left-center field wall just isn’t always appealing.

(Shutterstock)

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