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.
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.