Marginally Meaningful Cubs Baseball is Still Being Played
The Cubs have won 8 of 10, and 7 of their last 8 to get within 5.5 of the wild card and 8 of the Cardinals. At the very least, it makes the games bearable to watch for the time being. The Cubs have 19 games left and play a few more games than their current competitors, so they're actually just 4 back in the loss column to the Rockies and tied with the Marlins and Braves in that category. They trail the Giants by 2 in the loss column but play them next week. So they'll need some help from teams to beat the Rockies, but in a round-about way, they still control most of their own destiny for the rest of the season.
As for the sort-of-big weekend series versus the Cardinals, it's already guaranteed that the Cardinals won't be able to clinch anything this weekend. That's not going to stop them from trying to bury the Cubs though. They'll send out John Smoltz, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright for the series against Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano.
Lineups for tonight:
|Lopez 2b||Theriot SS|
|Hart RF||Fukudome CF|
|Braun LF||Lee 1B|
|Fielder 1B||Ramirez 3B|
|McGehee 3B||Soto C|
|Cameron CF||Bradley RF|
|Kendall C||Fontenot 2B|
|Escobar SS||Scales LF|
|Looper P||Harden P|
I wouldn't be suprised if things get a little chippy tonight. The teams have become almost as intense rivals as the Cubs and Cardinals and there were 3 HBP's last night and a few almost HBP's, following Braun getting hit by Dempster the night before.
In the hot 'n cold department, Soto's found his groove with a 1.252 OPS in September and 7 XBH's in 7 games played. Derrek Lee has a 1.333 OPS since August 25th with 9 HR's in 19 games. Then there's Milton Bradley, who hasn't walked since August 30th and has a .447 OPS in that time. Bobby Scales keeps getting playing time in LF despite a .617 OPS in September and some boneheaded defense and baserunning, while Micah Hoffpauir has a 1.122 OPS since being recalled. Godenot has returned as well for the final month with a 1.071 OPS in 8 games (6/14 at the plate).
Parachat actually had a small crowd last night, so stop on by.
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump