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.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.