Rizzo Dings Dingers, Eats Taters: Cubs 7, Cardinals 0

It's a bummer that the Cubs weren't able to clinch the division in St. Louis. But it's also not a bummer at the same time.

I said earlier this week that, really, it doesn't matter. Sure, it would've been nice to have it wrapped up at Busch Stadium in front of a fan base that is, at times, insufferable. But that's really only for petty reasons I suppose.

What's most important is that the Cubs clinch and clinch soon. Today, Anthony Rizzo assisted their cause by helping the Cubs beat the Cardinals and bring their magic number down to just 1 game. That means that they'll have a chance to clinch tomorrow against the Brewers at home. That will be fun.

But for today...

Would you believe me if I told you that Martinez started this game by striking out the side? Sure you would. Then would you also believe me if I told you that Jon Lester had the first RBI of the game? No? Well, he did. Don't call me a liar.

It came in the top of 2nd after Javier Baez hit a double with no outs to get things started. Lester than was able to knock a ball just over second base to get Javy in. Here's your stat of the day:

Or what about this one:

In the top of the 5th, with Jason Heyward on, David Ross put an absolute charge into a ball. It came on a 1-1 count and ended up over the center field wall and onto the grass in the middle of the seats at Busch. It was his 9th homer of the year, but more importantly it put the Cubs up 3-0 (also the telecast said the homer traveled 429 feet).

This was the game of Rossy, apparently. Earlier in the 1st inning, Ross caught Aledmys Diaz trying to steal 2nd. Then again, in the bottom of the 5th after his homerun, Ross was able to nail another runner (this time Randal Grichuk) trying to swipe 2nd. The Cardinals challenged the 2nd caught-stealing, but lost. Ross is everywhere.

After striking out twice in the game, Anthony Rizzo was down 0-2 to Carlos Martinez in the top of the 6th. The count didn't matter and there would be no such strikeout this time around as he crushed a line drive homerun to right field. This put the Cubs up 4-0 and was Rizzo's 30th of the year. Watch it here:

Jonathan Broxton took over for Martinez in the top of 7th. Martinez started out strong as I mentioned up top, but he started getting knocked around the 3rd time through the lineup. His final line was 6.0 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 4 R, 9 K.

Lester had a little bit better outing (understatement). He was lifted after 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K, and no runs. His ERA is now second best in the majors only to...Kyle Hendricks.

Jorge Soler was brought in to pinch-hit for Lester and was able to get on base. Kris Bryant then hit a liner to Grichuk who tried to dive but was unable to come up with the ball as it trickled to the wall. Soler scored and Bryant ended up on third. It wouldn't matter what base KB ended up on, though, as Rizzo crushed another homer to right and brought the score to 7-0. Statcast had it over 400 feet and leaving the bat at 110 mph (!).

That would be all they needed in this one as they shut out the mighty Cardinals, hold them to just 3 hits, and decrease their magic number.

Cubs win, holmes.


Source: FanGraphs

Jon Lester, baby
He was absolutely brilliant today. But it wasn't just on the mound, he got the game started with his RBI single (he even hit another ball pretty hard right at the left fielder in his next at-bat). He also looked pretty spry getting off the mound defensively, making a couple great plays to get the runner at first. Guess he didn't want to be outdone by Kyle Hendricks, eh (sorry, just got back Toronto)?

Grandpa Rossy
What didn't he do? No seriously. I can't think of anything that  catcher should do that he didn't do. He caught a great game from Lester, hit for power, and picked off two runners on the bases. That's a solid game.

Heyward
Here's some food for thought:


Also, he reached 3 times in today's game. I'm really hoping for just about anything out of him at this point offensively. I want to see him succeed so bad and, if he does, this lineup will be even tougher for opposing pitchers this postseason.

 

Three Stars of the Game:

Third Star: David Ross (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI)
He did everything right.

Second Star: Jon Lester (8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K, and no runs)
Absolutely brilliant today. 8 innings of shutout ball.

First Star: Anthony Rizzo (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI)
Dingers get you stars.

 

Magic number: 1

Comments

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  • LOVE it when they stick it to the Cardinals!

  • What a great team win. All phases clicked and to let STL know who ther daddy is as we leave town.

    Nice to see Rizzo get his power stroke in order too.

    Lester is the man!!!! It is great having 3 aces in the rotation.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Also love hearing roughly 45,000 absolutely quiet for the better part of three days!!!!

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    In reply to MoneyBoy:

    More like 30,000...i was at 2 of the games and there was a lot of empty seats and if wasn't for the cub fans in attendance there probably would of only been 20k there.

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    Wow. The announced attendance was 44k+ yesterday. Joel will have to trademark BNSIB (Best No-Shows in Baseball).

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    In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    Dang it! You beat me to it. That one is yours now. For legal reasons make sure you add the (TM) at the end! ;)

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    You are the Cubs Den trademark attorney. You'll get your piece.

  • So awesome to see Rizzo hitting homeruns again. His August power #s were extremely low (2 HR for the month?) that I was beginning to worry he had a physical issue he was playing through. We need Mr. "Heart & Soul" to be 100% for the playoffs.

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    Myles--this is the quickest recaps I can remember--almost as fast as Rossy's throws to 2nd.
    Lester gets the game winning RBI, pitches 8 scoreless innings and puts himself back in the CY conversation.
    There was no drama today and I didn't think I'd say that about a Cubs-Cardinal game.
    Great win and I'm happy to see that KB got another RBI--5 more to go.

  • Cy Young. Wait, I said that Monday night...

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    If Lester finishes strong I think that he will gain traction in the Cy Young race. For those not privileged to see and talk about Kyle Hendricks regularly I think he is seen as a "smoke-and-mirrors" guy. Lester has a long and established pedigree.

    I am not saying that Hendricks doesn't deserve it as much or more, but just looking at it practically I believe that Lester will start gaining traction.

    Just out of curiosity, why didn't you post "Cy Young" after Tuesday's game? LOL

  • That next game at home against Milwaukee is going to be rockin!

    Love to see the Cubs looking like they are finishing the season healthy & strong.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    What is scary good about the Cubs is if you told the other team, "You can remove anyone from the Cubs roster you would like and they can do the same to you" I don't think any team takes that opportunity. Last year I guarantee the Pirates insist on removing Jake Arrieta. The Cards might have taken the opportunity too. But if we face the Giants we could choose to simply not face Bumgarner or Posey, against the Cardinals we could choose not to face Moss or Carpenter (maybe?), against the Mets we could deprive them of Syndergaard or Cespedes or something like that. But our back ups, even for people like Bryant and Rizzo or Hendricks or Lester or Arrieta or anyone else, is a lot less steep of a drop off than it is for other teams. Every team risks injury at this time of year. While I certainly don't wish it on us the fact is that we could absorb it better than anyone else.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The loss of Schwarber is the perfect example of this.

    Next year's positional "space" is going to be interesting with Schwarber, Candelario, and Almora in the mix. I'm hoping that we trade some of that currency for a #3 type starter and make our pitching depth crowded.

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    In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    I think a trade is likely though not as inevitable as others have posted. I think Candelario stays in AAA to start next year while the Cubs decide what to do. Schwarber will come up and take Ross spot on the 40 and 25 man rosters. Schwarber and Soler give Maddon a solid LF platoon with a mix of Bryant for "spice." Overall, it is a pretty darn nice situation to be in.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Absolutely Joel - and assuming that Schwarber's rebuilt knee permits - being able to flip Schwarber and Contreras between LF and C is an added bonus.

    Has anybody tried out Schwarber as a 1B guy? Also might be nice to have another guy that could back up Rizzo for next year, or to slide into 1B in a few years if Rizzo ends up as a FA after his current contract is up

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    I can imagine him there. But I have long imagined Bryant there in the Mark Texeira mold. While it would, in some ways, hurt his "value" there may come a time when having Baez on the field even more becomes even MORE valuable.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Agreed as usual here Joel.

    Pull out anybody in the IF and you've got Beaz to slide into the lineup - and while he is still a work in progress offensively - he's already better defensively than many team's starters at 3B,SS or 2B. And then you still have La Stella to slot in, and anybody in the IF other than Rizzo can cover at least 1 other defensive position.

    Pull out anybody in the OF among Heyward, Fowler, and Soler, you've still got Bryant, La Stella, Cogs, Szczur, Contreras and in a pinch Baez you can slot in - and at least 3 of these guys could be your everyday CF.

    The only 'weakness' - if that is the right word is that Montero & Ross can only play Catcher defensively, and neither of them is really an everyday player at this stage in their careers and health.

    With a deep bullpen and with the Arrieta/Lester/Hendricks rotation lead,.... yeah - there really isn't a single piece you could pull out that makes the Cubs less dangerous.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    They would be less dangerous, but that is why I said, "and the Cubs can do the same to you." We are a less potent team without Bryant, Rizzo, Arrieta, Lester, Hendricks, etc. But less so than last year. But most teams have a severe drop after their top 1-2 players.

    To make it even more fun we could say something like this: "You can remove ANY player(s) from the Cubs 25-man roster but you have to let them remove the same number from YOUR roster." Making it plural makes it even more in the Cubs favor as most teams are being carried by 1-2 players, maybe 3. While the Cubs top 3 being out would certainly be a "hit" to the system I think it would be less than the hit that other teams would take if we removed multiple players from their roster.

  • Since the cards play the Giants the next 4 games it appears the Cubs have clinched the playoffs since the cards series will eliminate one or two teams from catching the Cubs. So now all that's left ,officially, is for the Cubs to clinch the Central and then home field for the playoffs which I believe is currently at 10.

  • In reply to stix:

    Giants have a half game lead over the Mets who, pending outcome of tonights game have a one game lead on the Cards. Those four Giants-Cards will be huge but Giants also have 6 left against Dodgers.

    Lots of moving parts, but we have a good chance to be playing the Mets in the NLDS. I week or so ago, I said I don't care who we play cause we're gonna have to beat two good teams to get to WS. In fact, I said I'd like to get revenge for last NLCS. But, damn! Mets scares me more than the Nats or Dodgers.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Based on the remaining schedules, I would guess the Mets get the home field for the WC game. If Thor pitches that game then he probably only gets one start in LDS. DOes that lower your concerns versus the Mets?

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    In reply to stix:

    If DeGrom and Matz come back and are close to 100%, its going to be interesting, very interesting Round 1

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    True ! Still would rather face one of them twice than Thor.

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    In reply to stix:

    11.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Cubs have tie breaker, doesn't that lower your # by 1?

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    In reply to stix:

    Yes, you are correct.

  • Love the Heyward tweet!

  • Nothing against Rizzo, but when you get the GWRBI and pitch eight innings of shut out ball you get the first star.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    Agree and think that a HR and 2 RBI's when the game was close along with two caught stealing when the game was close is more worthy than tack on HRs ,no matter how many.

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    In reply to stix:

    Yup. Lester was truly awesome. Him and Ross dominated the 1st half of this game which is pretty much when this game was won.

    1. Lester
    2. Ross
    3. Rizzo

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    That would be my preference of order too.

  • My Playoff starting rotation:
    1. Lester
    2. Hendricks
    3. Arrietta
    Lackey as spot starter, high leverage middle relief
    Hammel as spectator

  • In reply to Pepitonestoupee:

    Lackey's your 4th starter, unless it's at the end I don't see him in relief. I'm not sure if Hammel makes the roster in the pen but I wouldn't rule it out. I agree with your starting three though.

  • In reply to Pepitonestoupee:

    Yeah, that's where I'm at. the order may change depending on who Joe pitches last but those are my top 3.

    The Cubs may not need a 4th starter in the playoffs or World Series, certainly not in the NLDS, so Lackey starts in the pen as long man for me as well.

    After that, the obvious choices are Chapman, Rondon and Strop (assuming he doesn't have a setback). After that we get into Maddonland. If it were me, Edwards has been too good to leave off the roster. I don't care if he's a rookie. Wood has been solid, and Grimm probably has the best stuff of anyone left. If they want a 3rd lefty, then it's Montgomery who would also be the 2nd long man.

    That's 11 pitchers which would leave a 6 man bench. Soler, Ross, Contreras, Szczur and La Stella are the obvious 1st 5 for me. I'm guessing Maddon wants a 2nd lefty bat off the bench. He has that in Montero if he's not in the starting line-up. If that's good enough for Joe, then it's Almora. If not, it's Coghlan.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Ross was interviewed on one of the XM baseball channels this morning, and he was asked how he'd use the Cubs starters in the playoffs. He said the order would be Lester, Arrieta, Lackey, Hendricks. Now he was asked for his own opinion, but knowing him I'd assume he's stating the company line (i.e. what Maddon will do) if he already knows it.

    His reasoning was that playoff experience is very important when it comes to starters.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    In projecting what probably is the opinion of the decision makers and not the opinion of the fickle fans the importance of playoff experience will take precedence as the concept of pressure will be a factor. That is why Coghlan gets a spot over Almora or why Lackey starts before Hendricks in any pecking order. If you played you would understand this intangible but real effect.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Constructing a playoff roster is going to be interesting. There is just so much talent. Someone very deserving will be left off. If he includes Montero it deprives him of an additional defensive replacement for the OF in Almora or a better LH batter in Coghlan. It is going to be fun to watch Maddon attack this. It is awesome to not even have to seriously consider including Jonathan Herrera or Kawasaki on the post-season roster.

  • In reply to Pepitonestoupee:

    My order would be:
    1.Hendricks
    2.Lester
    3. Arrieta

    This would keep batters facing a variety of pitches and making Chapman more effective.

    Just my preference.

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    In reply to IVYADDICT:

    Its easy to critique from the outside...No one; I MEAN NO ONE, has any way of knowing how theyd react in the same circumstances.....theres probably a lot of unforseen gamechangers that someone on the outside looking in cant predict nor could they truly say how theyd personally handle these variables if they in fact werent out there in the "trenches" day in and day out. I personally wouldnt pick the life of a professional ball player bcz to me the money isnt worth not being there everyday watching ur kids grow up.. and the prostitues on the road dont cook as good as my wife so...lol jk!!! But for real, Family is everything. Matter Fact, why am i sitting here bullshitting online? I wonder where my old lady is, I need to be better about empathy and showing her i care...She would appreciate that a shit ton! For yall wondering, 1 shitton= about 500.

  • In reply to Pepitonestoupee:

    It's hard to argue with a 3-man rotation that features last year's Cy Young award winner (who is having a good year this year as well), and the guys who are currently #1 and #2 in the league in ERA and sport 15 wins and 17 wins for the season,....

    And yes - those ERAs are heavily skewed by that stellar defense,.... but that's one solid rotation. And with either the old bulldog veteran Lackey or the guy who has had a fantastic season to date in Hammel (even if he has tailed off a bit to close the season),... I think the Mets are the ONLY NL team who has a shot at matching up with the Cubs come a 7 game series.

    I like the odds,.... but we've all be disappointed before,...

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    I like the odds too. And don't forget, the defense that is being credited will be there for them in the playoffs too. It isn't like that has been removed.

  • I heard Bryant say that it was great last year to get into the playoffs but it was a bit strange doing it after a loss. Since the Cards are out West and have the late game, here's hoping we win game one against Milwaukee and the Cards/Giants game has no bearing on the clinch.

  • Mets lost.

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    In reply to stix:

    Giants lose again to the Pads as well.

    Nats keeping up w the Best team in baseball, our Cubs.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    "Keeping up with" might not have been the best choice of words. ;-)

  • As indicated above, the Magic Numbers...

    Postseason 1
    Division 1
    Homefield 10 (Cubs own tiebreaker)

    SFG, NYM, and StL all within a half game of each other for the two WC positions.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Nice!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Technically the Cubs have already clinched postseason because STL plays four at SF. With elimination numbers of one over STL and two over SF Cubs are guaranteed at least wild card #2 even if one sweeps the other.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    Good catch. Never considered that.

  • I was at the game today. A couple things to share....my seats were about 15 rows off the field on the 1st base line, right up from the cards on deck circle. Javy's double in the 2nd, froze Gyroko it was hit so hard it 'bent' or curved towards the line and away from Gyroko. That ball was stung. When Martinez started getting hit, he would throw a little tantrum behind the mound. Lastly, the cards fans started funneling out of the stadium as soon as Bryant hit the triple. It was like they were jogging out when Rizz hit the HR. Yes, I was wearing my Cubs jersey. Along with a lot of other Cubs fans sitting near me high fiving.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Glad you had such a beautiful day!

  • In reply to Cphil:

    It was glorious..thank you!

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    In reply to copinblue:

    That must have been a very satisfying day to say the least. What did the Cardinal fans say about the Cubs?

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Most likely nothing that can be repeated here.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    This is why I'd rather clinch with a W at home.
    Cardinal Fan had already left the building.

  • No one mentioned that Rizzo now has another 100 RBI season.
    Lets hope Bryant gets 5 more to have his first century mark.

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    In reply to Peanuts:

    Bryant might get there by Sunday but 100 rbi is a done deal as long as he stays healthy.

    Lets hope he can get to 40 homers!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I think it is highly likely he gets to 40 HR and 100 RBI. He seems to LOVE facing the Reds.

  • I'd go with a playoff rotation of Lester,Hendricks,Arrieta and Lackey.Can't wait to watch them clinch

  • Congratulations, Pelicans! Back-to-back Carolina League champs!

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Its been a fantastic week for everything Cubs. Lets keep it going !

  • This team is really, really good but doing some deep research in playoffs and teams dating back to 1995 there have been some really, really good teams that have had nothing but disappointments.

    More, much more later but this team is very interesting as it closes out a potential historic regular season. They are 93-52, forty one games over .500 and with seventeen games remaining the potential range is: 93> x >110, (can't do the equal but assume it). Projecting the final W/L is between winning 11 and 12 more games based on post All Star Break and last twenty and thirty game trends. So reality is that they win between 104 and 105 games this season. That compares with eight of the best teams since 1995, Cleveland, '95, New York Yankees and Atlanta in 1998, Atlanta again '99, Seattle 2001, New York Yankees and Oakland A's of 2002, St. Louis Cardinals of 2005 and New York Yankee's 2009 team. All those teams won 103 games or more and yet, only five teams actually got into the World Series, and only two won it. both being the dastardly Yankees. Why this anomaly?

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    93>x<110

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    It is actually the potential domain of total wins possible for the rest of the season, it sets the boundaries, then you look at trends, you can go all the way to full season but that is not really a trend line, 20 game or 30 game is a better trend line and compare it to second half trend line and you get a probable. The probable is that that Cubs win 11 to 12 more games.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    Yes, I get that, I was just noting a typo--and I believe it was a typo--as x is not going to be >110. It will be less than or equal to 110. Maybe I should have explained. Maybe I should be less pedantic. ;)

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I think that's ignoring some realities of teams that clinch early. They have 17 games left, I think 10-7 is probably close the best they'll do on but 9-8 or even 8-9 is more realistic, at least to me. Guys will be resting and their won't be much incentive to win games other than personal pride, which I don't discount btw. I predicted 103-59 a month ago and again this week so I think I'll stay with that.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I think 10-7 is achievable. An SI article I just read started with this comment: My pick for the 2nd WC team would be the Cubs JV. Obviously it is exaggerating but the Cubs "subs" aren't a huge drop from their "starters" and also not a drop from league average. And we are playing a pretty weak schedule.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I know Seattle rested guys too much and lost momentum.
    That's why I'm in favor of keeping the pedal down to the end.
    6 man rotation is ok, though. Our pitchers look sharp.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    actually could see a 6 man next year, been looking at this for a while.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    In general I am not in favor of 6 man rotations until things are well in hand like the Cubs did in August. However, I am open to looking at it and would be interested to see how you justify it. Even when I disagree with you your comments are worthwhile reading.

    My main problem with adding pitchers to the rotation is that it effectively limits what we can do with the rest of the roster. I am going to go with an assumption (perhaps incorrect) that the 6 man rotation would mean 6 "pure" starters and that they would not routinely throw out of the bullpen--though, interestingly, if you would make the day that the pitcher throws a "bullpen session" a day in which he is available to throw a limited amount in a game, something like <15 pitches or something like that then I might be more interested. But if we have 6 starters I don't think there is any reason to think Maddon will then want to go with FEWER relievers. In fact, he might even want to add another reliever as that 6th starter is unlikely to consistently go deep into games (right now the Cubs don't have an outstanding 6th starter and I don't foresee adding one before next season). If that is the case you then have a 6 man starting rotation and a 7-8 man bullpen (same bullpen size he has used most of the year and maybe an additional one because the bullpen will likely work more on the day that the "6th starter" is throwing). That is 13-14 spots taken up by the pitching staff rather than 12-13. If we then assume 8 starting offensive/defensive players that is 21-22 spots on the roster. Since it is highly likely that Montero will be back next year that means that at least 1 player on the roster can ONLY play catcher. Suddenly you only have a 3 man bench including your back up catcher. 2 players that are NOT your back-up catcher. The roster would look something like this (using players under control for next year):
    6 starting pitcher
    7 relievers (assuming Joe wants to go with his usual bullpen alottment)
    Montero
    Rizzo
    Zobrist
    Russell
    Bryant
    Schwarber
    Almora
    Heyward
    Contreras
    Baez
    La Stella
    Szczur

    Maybe that could work but it seems like it would unnecessarily deplete our bench. It isn't hard to use 4 bench players in a game.

    My other objection is, "Why would we want to give starts that COULD be made by Arrieta, Lester, Hendricks and give them to Montgomery (or another "6th Starter")?"

    My objections other objections are also put well in this BP article. Though it is from 2002 and baseball analytics and research has advanced so this article may be out of date. However, I haven't seen anything compelling saying it is wrong (though that doesn't mean it doesn't exist).

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    Why the anomaly? Because the regular season is 162 games long so "luck" tends to, roughly, even out and talent comes shining through. But in the playoffs things are compressed and magnified. One or two bizarre things happening and it's over. That is why I always say that winning with "best record," to me, means best team in baseball. Don't get me wrong, I want a WS as much as anyone. But I don't believe the Cubs were a "better" team than the Pirates last year but we had a horse who could go out there and completely dominate one game. Similarly I don't truly think we were a better team than the Cardinals last year, certainly not as much better as it showed in the playoffs. They had a couple of injuries that really hurt them and the Cubs came in with a ton of momentum.

    Similarly, the Mets were not better than the Cubs. The Cubs undefeated regular season against them aside the Mets played in an easier division and STILL had fewer wins.

    To me EVERY time a WC team makes it to the NLCS it is evidence (though not necessarily proof) that the playoffs don't crown "the best team in baseball" but simply the team that can put together the best ~3 week run.

    I am curious what your conclusion is, though.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The reason is buried in the stats, something in relation to difference of wins compared to the playoff field plus underlying stats, I think it goes to pitching stats.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/09/06/chicago-cubs-record-postseason-world-series

    Is this something like what you have in mind?

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I think a big part of it is not how many wins but also how much separation between opponents. In most years there isn't that big a talent difference from the worst record in the playoffs to the best. Last year the Mets won the fewest regular season games at 90 but made it to the WS. The Cardinals had 100 wins. 10 wins seems like a lot until you realize that it's about 1.5 wins of a difference every 4 weeks. Plus teams aren't stagnant either, some teams get better through the course of a season and some get worse. So after 162 games where there often isn't a ton of separation teams are thrown into a tournament where a WC is decided in a 1 games series which is about as accurate a talent evaluator as a coin toss. Then the next series is a 5 game series which still isn't a huge sample size and where your point of the 3 man rotation is really spot on. It isn't until you get to the CS and the WS that you start to get to a level 7 game series where the better talent is going to win most of the time.

    So now we get to the bigger playoff picture and the Cubs. I've said that I think if the Cubs are going to lose in the playoffs it's going to be in the NLDS because of the small sample size. After that their talent is vastly superior to their opponents' which will provide a heavy advantage. In last year's example I showed that 10 games separated the best team in the NL from the worst. This year the difference between the best team, the Cubs, to the worst is likely to be nearly double that at 18 or 19 games. That's going to make a difference. In the 5 game NLDS last year the Cubs faced and beat a team that was 3 games ahead of them through 162. The Mets faced and beat a team that was 2 games better than they were through 162. Then came the NLCS where the Cubs were, in fact, 7 games better over 162 than the Mets but other factors. Both teams got better as the year went but in different ways. When you look at their Pythagorean records only 1 game separated the teams, the Mets at 89 and the Cubs at 90. Also the Mets had historically good pitching 1-3 while the Cubs had a great 1, a good 2 and not at much at 3. Then you had young hitters facing the kind of pitching they had never even seen before. So it isn't surprising that with 2 nearly evenly matched teams, one with a significant pitching edge, that the slightly lesser team by Pythagorean record won.

    This year the best team that the Cubs are likely to face in the playoffs will be the Washington Nationals who look to finish 10 games worse, by Pythagorean projection, than the Cubs do. 7 games in actual record. The next closest in actual record would be the Rangers but who, by Pythagorean record, are actually not much better than a .500 team. Injuries could change the calculations and there is always the human element but, by the numbers if they get past the randomness of the 5 game DS, the Cubs should win the World Series this year. This jibes with the Verducci piece people have reference and posted here which shows that outside outside of the 2000 Mariners, a clear statistical outlier, that teams with anywhere near the advantage over the rest of the league at least play in the World Series. It would be interesting to see how that would look if you used Pythagorean record.

    In short, kind of funny I suppose after such a crazy long post, I'm as confident in these Cubs as any Cubs team in my lifetime. It looks like their year to me. I'm invested and mesmerized as to what we're going to see going forward. Oh, and on a personal we've reached the point of the season where I am no longer going to refer to our team strictly as the Cubs. From here on out it's going to be "we're going to win the World Series" no "they're going to win the World Series". Yeah, I'm excited.

  • In reply to TC154:

    For reference here are the Verducci stats:

    2001 Mariners +14 Lost ALCS
    1986 Mets +12 Won World Series
    1975 Reds +10 Won World Series
    2016 Cubs +9 (projected) ?
    1969 Orioles +9 Lost World Series
    1967 Cardinals+9 Won World Series
    1998 Yankees +8 Won World Series
    1990 Athletics +8 Lost World Series
    1984 Tigers +8 Won World Series
    2009 Yankees +6 Won World Series
    1989 Athletics +6 Won World Series
    1970 Orioles +6 Won World Series
    1968 Tigers +6 Won World Series

  • In reply to TC154:

    I see a lot of World Series there.

  • In reply to TC154:

    The pre-1995 records are interesting and lend to the hypothesis but the real data now is from 1995 on when the WC entered the mix.

    But thank you for the SI article which I lost and now want to use as a guide post to developing a spread and standard deviation to see if there are genuine trends.

    Yes the five game series is the hot point and I think this club with all its power of math analysis has zero'd in on that as a key factor and why I think the decisions as what to do fall in this realm

    Rotation, and specifically Arrieta. He has been best on the road and in my book the odds are that Cubs will split at home, so depending on how the opposition lines up (Baum, Martinez or Thor) as one has to presume that unless the season hinges on the final day and one has set up their ace for that day to get in, that the WC will match respective WC team aces for a Wed game. If they pitched on Sun the best is Fri on four days rest, though the Mets and Giants have a good second line starter. The thing is do you want to over match your opponent with Arrieta in Game 3 counting on Lester and Hendricks to win at least one game at home. Lackey then is key for game 4 as he will match up with their worst starter.

    Bringing the game back to Chicago for game 5 and Lester.

    Number two is whether Montgomery is kept for a 2nd lefty. Third is the final bench player, Coghlan or Almora.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    I want to go Lester, Hendricks, Arrieta. While Hendricks has been good on the road he has been better at home. Even with a higher BABIP at home (.250 vs .226) his slash line at home is .197/.244/.268/.512 5.71 K:BB. On the road it has been
    .201/.272/.366/.639 2.48 K:BB. He gives up fewer extra base hits as well, fewer BB and more K's. The sample size is pretty good: 338 PAs vs 336 PAs (and comfortably close together to make a direct comparison relatively safe).

    Meanwhile Arrieta's numbers are eerily similar home vs away:
    .183/.279/.276/.555 2.44 K:BB at home is has been:
    .187/.259/.308/.567 2.54 K:BB

    It would likely also mean that the Cubs would have a deadly hammer to drop on their opponent if the Cubs win the first 2 games.

    Let's assume each team goes with their #1 guy against their WC opponent. Then we have Lester going against the other team's #2 and Hendricks going against the other team's #3. That would mean that the other team's #1 would be going in game 3. I like my chances with Arrieta's "away" numbers in that scenario better than Hendricks.

    And if we split the first 2 (not unreasonable) then we have Arrieta as a "fire-wall" against being behind 2-1 and finding ourselves in the same situation the Cardinals had last year.

    If we lose the first two...I don't really want to think about that!

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I go Lester, Hendricks, Arrieta as well. That literally gives you 3 of the top 8 pitchers in the NL in the strongest positions with Arrieta actually being about equal wherever you start him.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I'll be interested in seeing your results. The raw data since 95 still shows the 2000 Mariners as the sole outlier in that group though but, that said, virtually every baseball nerd I know still considers them to be the best baseball team they ever saw and they didn't make it to the promised land.

    Those first two playoff games at Wrigley are going to be crazy and pretty any matchup you can think of looks favorable in those two games. The opposing pitchers are likely to be Cueto/Samardzija, Wainwright/Garcia or Colon/deGrom. That's of course assuming that the best pitchers on those teams, Bumgarner/Martinez/Syndergaard, will be burned in the WC game. To me the most favorable matchup would be the Mets especially since I think Colon is eminently beatable and deGrom's arm is about to fall off. Anyway it shakes out if we win both games at home we win that series. That's got to be the focus. Go for jugular.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Because The playoffs are a crapshoot. Anything can happen. How many times have we seen a mostly unknown bench player become the hottest hitter in the series? Pitching rotation is another factor. A team that wins 85 games and barely makes it to the postseason using 5-6 (or more) SPs goes into the playoffs with a 3-man rotation. Instead of pitching one game out of five, the staff ace will pitch twice and, if the schedule is lined up right, three times in a 7-game series. That totally changes the picture for a team that has one or two good starters and the rest BOR guys.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Unknown bench player is no longer on the team with the pitching.
    Team with the unknown bench player only has one top starter left.

    Hopefully both now have exploitable weaknesses.

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    In reply to hoffpauir6:

    I believe an "unknown bench player" like what Cliff1969 is referring to would be someone along the lines of Tommy La Stella coming up and getting a "big pinch-hit" or maybe Albert Almora making a key defensive play. On this site we pay an exceptional amount of attention to the guys all the way down the line. But most fans around the country may have a passing notion of who TLS is (mostly due to the unusual circumstances of his demotion to AAA) and almost no knowledge of Albert Almora. It is, of course, possible, maybe even likely, that Maddon leaves 1 or both of these guys off the roster. But that is the kind of thing I think he is talking about.

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    Nitpicking but Bryant has been very mediocre against the Cardinals (750 career OPS).

    He should be way over 100 RBI but he's come up short in so many big spots lately. Hope he breaks out of his slump against the Brew. We still play the Reds so 40+ is practically inevitable. But he needs to get back on track real soon.

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    In reply to Nick Perry:

    You need to read the SI piece about KB on how many areas he's improved dramatically this year and why he should be basically a unanimous MVP.

    It was written yesterday or maybe even today and I think its a Tom Verducci piece.

    I am going to look for the link.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    The guy whose really not coming up in big spots and could end up hurting us bad in the playoffs esp if the key at bats in the playoffs end up lining up for him. You guessed it, its Jason Heyward.

    When I find this piece, you will change your tune about KB. He's doing some amazing things this season.

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    In reply to Nick Perry:

    Here it is

    http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/09/13/kris-bryant-chicago-cubs-nl-mvp-race

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I've read it already. I'm just ridiculous when it comes to Bryant. My expectations are astronomical when it comes to him lol

    But he needs to start performing better in the cat & mouse game with Molina behind the dish. Of course 750 is passable but it is 150+ points off his career number.

    He is our Pujols. I want him to be a Cardinal killer.

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    In reply to Nick Perry:

    While certainly not outstanding a .750 OPS isn't bad. Probably a little above league average. Everyone has teams against whom they struggle. Rizzo has a .635 career vs the Giants and, surprisingly, .690 against the Rockies.

    I think Bryant makes it to 40+ and 100+ this year.

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    2017 schedule was released yesterday, and the Cubs open the season in St. Louis. It would be great to show up as WS champs.

  • In reply to John Winter:

    Can we have our ring ceremony there? It would be nice to share that with the Cards. :-)

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    In reply to John57:

    If they simply changed the venue to Wrigley then it would make the most sense. First home game of the season.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Well we can do that the next ring ceremony. :-)

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    In reply to John57:

    "Wait 'til next year" ;)

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    And the year after that too.

  • We are only six wins better than Washington over a full season. They are the only ones that worry me as much as L.A.

    Cubs fan since 1945 (thanks to Dad and his Mom with stories about the good old days.) OK, I only started my scrapbook in 1955 when I was 10 years old. Still remember the headline I pasted in, "Our hot cubs head home" in April of that year.

  • In reply to granvil:

    Six wins is a lot over a full season. The difference between a 100 win team and a .500 team is 19 wins.

    Plus Strasburg is questionable for playoffs.

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    In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    Could you show your math? I get 6 wins being the difference between 94 wins and 100 wins. Even if I give you a "curve" for "rounding off" that is a long way from .500. But my math may be faulty.

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    In reply to granvil:

    The Nationals are the only team I have worried about for a couple weeks now. Yesterday I had a long post trying to quantify just how implausible the Nationals catching up with the Cubs is. However, those numbers are a 3-4 game losing streak away from being completely changed.

    The main thing I console myself with is that the 3-4 game losing streak is as likely for the Nats as it is the Cubs. And they also have to consider the possibility of being overtaken by the Dodgers. That and the fact that they have 1 less game to play and that that game was a loss AND they have to overcome the tiebreaker which is also in the Cubs favor.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Another reason to be hopeful: Luck has not smiled on either team but has been even worse to the Cubs. Per ESPN's "Expected W-L record" we should be 100-45. Baseball reference puts it at 97.

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    In reply to granvil:

    While we maybe getting ahead of ourselves I am reading more articles on ways, plausible or not, of "How could the Cubs possibly not win the WS" rather than similar articles in previous years trying to chart a way for them to win.

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