Draft Pick Standings Update
The Cubs have been playing out the string since about May...maybe June, but they can 'eff with the Pirates and Cardinals playoff jockeying this week. More importantly though, they're trying to at the very least maintain the 4th pick in the draft. The Astros clinched the #1 spot for the third year running yesterday and Miami and the White Sox should wrap up the #2 spot here by mid-week with a 4.5 game lead over the White Sox, who are 3.5 ahead of the Cubs. The Cubs could very well drop to the 5th spot in the draft as they own just a half game lead over the Twins, although the Cubs do own the tiebreaker against both the Twins and White Sox. Mathematically they could drop farther than the 5th spot, but that seems unlikely at this point (full draft pick standings in the left sidebar).
Remaining schedules for the candidates after the break...
White Sox (7) - vs. Toronto, 2 @ Clevelenad, 4 vs. Kansas City
Cubs (6) - 3 vs. Pittsburgh, 3 @ St. Louis
Twins (7) - 3 vs. Detroit, 4 vs. Cleveland
Royals could be eliminated by the weekend as they stand 3.5 back at the moment from a wild card spot and the Tigers could have the division wrapped up as early as tonight. Tigers are 3.5 back of the Red Sox for home field and 2 back of the A's for any home field considerations, but they'll certainly be making their best effort for the bulk of the Twins series you would think.
The AL Wild Card and NL Central/Wild Card races should last through the bulk of the weekend.
Cubs will throw Samardzija against Morton tonight, then Rusin vs. Cole followed by Arrieta vs Liriano. Then they have a day off Thursday and T. Wood vs. Lynn, E. Jackson vs Kelly and Samardzija vs Wainwright to finish the season, although they'll certainly skip Wainwright if the game proves meaningless in the standings or they know they'll need him for the wild card game.
There's not much in the statistical mile markers to watch for either this week, Rizzo and Schierholtz will battle for the team home run title (22 vs 21 at the moment). Despite the off-year, Castro will lead the team in hits (155 at the moment) and if he can manage a stolen base, tie the departed Alfonso Soriano for the team lead there, 2 will give it to Castro outright. Rizzo will lead the team in runs (70), doubles (39), walks (74), on-base percentage (.323 amongst those with enough plate appearances) and potentially home runs. Schierholtz will take the batting average (.252) and slugging percentage crowns(.475).
On the pitching side, Travis Wood and Samardzija will both get a chance at 10 wins this week, Samardzija will need to win both his starts and Wood his sole opportunity. Regardless, both will end up with below .500 win-loss records, not as meaningful as it's just ugly to look at. Samardzija will of course take the strikeout crown for the team and is 4th in the NL overall at 203. He won't catch up to Kershaw(224) for the league lead, but he has a legit shot at the #2 spot...Cliff Lee(209) and Burnett(203) should have just one more start this week and Wainwright(209) may just have one more start.
Anyway, sort of a can't lose week this week for the Cubs, they win and they screw with their division rivals, they lose and they do well in the draft.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.