Offense Explodes, Magic Number Drops - Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 1

The Cubs and Diamondbacks faced off for the second night in a row in Arizona, and found themselves 9-1 winners!

After yesterday's 5-1 win in which the Cubs got an amazing start by Kyle Hendricks and two, two-run homers - one each by Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, they did much of the same today, and then some.

The Cubs wasted absolutely no time, scoring twice in the top of the 1st inning. It all started with a single by Daniel Murphy to leadoff the game. Kris Bryant then struck out to bring up Anthony Rizzo with one out and one on. Rizzo lined out, but not before taking SEVENTEEN, yes 17 pitches in the at-bat which undoubtedly helped give Javier Baez a good look at Matt Andriese and his pitches. It helped so much so, that Baez took a 2-0 count and launched it into the seats for a two-run homer! Javy, whose name has been thrown around a ton in the National League MVP race continues to make his case. Two, two-run homers over the span of two games is pretty impressive, especially when that now means that he has 33 home runs and 105 RBI.

The Cubs came out roaring in the 2nd inning, this time scoring three runs in the frame. Jason Heyward hit his 22nd double of the year with one out in that inning. Next up came Cubs started Mike Montgomery who struck out to bring up Ian Happ. Ian brought Jason Heyward home with a double, and that put the Cubs up 3-0. However that didn't last long as Daniel Murphy was up next and made that a 5-0 lead with a two-run homer of his own. Murphy, who had been struggling at the plate was playing on a few days rest, and maybe it was just what he needed to break out. He had two hits and two RBI today, but also drew a walk and scored three times.

In the bottom of the inning, the Diamondbacks tried to chip away at the lead. They were able to scratch out one run on a solo-shot by their second baseman Ketel Marte, his 12th of the season.

Then in the 5th, the Cubs tallied on four more to give themselves a little bit more insurance that they wouldn't end up needing. Two of those runs came on a single by Anthony Rizzo, one on a groundout by Willson Contreras, and the other on a sacrifice fly by Albert Almora.

That was how the scoring went for the Cubs, but that may not even be the most impressive part of it all! Let's talk about Cubs pitching, especially starter Mike Montgomery who went six innings, giving up just one run on four hits. The four hits were all scattered over four different innings which didn't give Arizona many chances to score. To go along with that, Montgomery only walked one and struck out eight - a new career high. Alec Mills handled the 7th and 8th innings and went two flawless innings with three strikeouts. Brandon Kintzler came in to shut the door with a flawless inning of his own to secure the 9-1 win.

Tomorrow is the Cubs' final game in a 29 game stretch without a break. During this grueling stretch, the Cubs are 18-10 which is impressive. Despite multiple time zones, and having to fly back to Washington for one day to play a makeup game against the Nationals, the Cubs have battled it out. Sure, some of the losses have been extremely frustrating, and some of those should have been wins...BUT to play such a demanding and exhausting stretch with no breaks, and to finish well over .500 in it is something to celebrate.

The Cubs look to complete the sweep tomorrow with Cole Hamels on the mound. Hamels has been excellent since coming over to the Chicago and is 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA in nine starts. Some more good news is that the Brewers suffered a loss tonight at the hands of the Reds! With their loss and the Cubs' win, the Cubs increase their divisional lead to 3.5 games, and the magic number drops to eight. It's so exciting to believe that we may clinch at some point next week! Although Milwaukee still holds the top wild card spot and may very well be in the playoffs, the Cubs' main focus right now is winning the division and crossing that bridge when they get to it.

Tomorrow's start is going to be at 8:40 CT on NBC Sports Chicago. Let's hope the boys can end this stretch with a sweep!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Yes, as indicated in the recap, the Countdown gets a double dip, and the Magic Number is 8.

    MIL now only 2 games ahead of StL for the 1st WC, StL 1.5 ahead of COL for the 2nd.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    To punctuate Norway's clinical reporting of the descending number. Trend lines rarely deviate unless there is a total departure from the previous norm, AKA Phillies collapse where they lost 10 straight in the final 12 games with a 6.5 game lead.

    Brewers are now 4 down in the loss column, meaning they cannot win back those games and also are down one game to play. 86-66 (152 games played) means the best they could ever do is 96-66, (10-0).

    For the Cubs to reach 97 wins they have to win eight (8-3), both far cries of happening. But the Cubs have a greater chance of winning 8/11 than the Brewers 10/0.

    It is why Fangraph's projects the Cubs to win 95-96 games (6-5 or 7-4) and probability to win the division at 95%+ and the Brewers ton win 91-92 games (5-5 or 6-4).

    Tonight Hamels begins the close out of the season. A win tonight regardless of what the Brewers do continue to reduce the chance of any sudden deviation and collapse.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    You spelled out explicitly and very well what I have been saying for a week or two. While I appreciate Norway's daily "Magic Number" updates I am only looking at 2 numbers: Cubs L and Brewers L. I wouldn't be surprise if the Cards overtake the Brewers to host the NLWC game. And I am sure they would like nothing more than to return the favor that the Cubs put on them in 2015 knocking off the top-seed. But despite what Greg continually insists, I don't think they have the horse-power to do so.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Cardinals are a funny team. Brewers have big offense, but spotty starting so one game playoff anything can happen. A five game series Cubs now have four starters lined up who are peaking, plus one swing where if a game gets early out of hand Maddon can bail with Monty.

    But I am wondering if it would be novel and smart to insert Monty into the closer role during the playoffs.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    I wonder if DeLaRosa will make the playoff roster. He would be a "bubble" guy. But having another guy able to absorb multiple innings can be handy in the playoffs. While everyone talks about 1-0/2-1 games in my experience, 8-1 games are also common in the playoffs. Having a guy able to "take one on the chin" and save the rest of the 'pen can be valuable too.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    As for Monty as a closer I hadn't ever considered that. What makes you think it would work. I'm curious.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Because he struck out 8 last game and has improved as a pitcher. Whom else closed the winning WS game?

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Yep - he's the guy who got THE Final Out in 2016.

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    I was talking to a guy who out here in ND who said he knows someone in this area that is friends with Montgomery and has been since HS. He said that Montgomery told this friend that he was so nervous in Game 7 he couldn't believe it.

    Obviously I don't know if the anecdote is true. But it is certainly believeable. Who doesn't want to be the answer to that trivia question. But who doesn't want to be the biggest "goat" in history. But I thought it was fun to hear if true.

  • Got to go to tonight's game again. What a great start to put this one out of question very quickly. That at bat by Rizzo really just took it all out of the Dbacks starter.

    Especially with the Brewers losing tonight, I think it's very possibly that we clinch the division before the Cubs final series against the Cardinals. After tomorrow the Brewers go on the road to play 3 in Pittsburgh (they're currently 5-11 against them) and 3 in St. Louis (they're 8-8 against them). I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Brewers go 3-3 on that road trip. So if the Cubs can complete the sweep tomorrow and then take just 4 of the 7 they have against the White Sox and Pirates, they would clinch just before the final series against the Cardinals. Hi Greg!!!!!

    Now to something that can't be underestimated. When the Cubs fly home after tomorrow's game, they will get to sleep in their own beds, wake up in their own homes, enjoy time with their families, relax, be comfortable in their elements for the next 16 nights and days before they have to board a plane (or bus if they play the Brewers) and travel to play game 3 of the NLDS. Especially if they clinch at least one series before the season ends, it means not putting much pressure on the important bullpen parts, letting other position players rest when they feel they need an extra day off, and coast into the post season.

    I know a lot has been bantered on here about rest/days off being necessary or not. Well I can't help but notice how Joe was giving more guys some days off just very recently, and all of a sudden the offense is coming alive again. I do believe this Cubs team was gassed recently. It's no excuse, but what's nice is the friendly travel day between home and away games in the post season, where the Cubs will be getting days off after only playing 2 or 3 games in a row. I think that is a tremendous advantage for our Cubs who've fought through lots of injury, poor play, and adversity throughout this season and still look to be the class of the NL. We have a lot of depth (more than most teams), but we are at our best when we are in the position to play our best players on a daily basis, and they still get their rest.

    I'm of the opinion that tonight's lineup of Murphy, Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, Zobrist, Contreras, Heyward, Pitcher, Happ might just be the stock batting order when facing RHSP in the playoffs. Or maybe Schwarber might even get some starts in the 9th spot instead of Happ. In that case with Heyward in CF, Zobrist in RF, and Schwarber in LF. Either way, I'm really excited about what's afoot for us Cubs fans in the next month and a half. I wish I could be at the ballpark tomorrow to see us complete the sweep, but I guess I need to get back to the regular work schedule after being a slacker for the last couple days.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Great post if we can get this win today it really puts the team in a great position moving forward and we get our long awaited off day. I said the other day kudos to Maddon showing discipline in the heat of a tight pennant race and giving our core stars a day off and he gave Murphy 2-3 days off. I think that rest day was necessary before what was supposed to be a difficult road trip and arz and I'm not surprised our stars have responded the way they have. And we get an off day in Chicago Thursday like you said and were at home the rest of the year

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    A win tonight would absolutely be nice and probably put them on track to win 96 or 97 games but the race is effectively over. If the Cubs go 6-5 and win 95 games the Brewers would have to go 10-0 to win outright and 9-1 to tie. Even if the Cubs hit another rough patch (let's hope not) and go 5-6 it's 9-1 and 8-2 for the Brewers. I get that the magic number is 8 but for all intents and purposes this race is done.

  • In reply to TC154:

    It really is......let’s see if Barley can channel his inner Don Meredith!

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Didn’t both Javy and Rizzo get a day off recently just before the AZ trip? No surprise that they are getting great at bats all of a sudden. And Bryant has been a rock since returning, even with only that one HR.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Yes sir javy, contreras 2 days, rizzo, zobrist, Murphy 2 days, Bryant all got planned days off during that reds series. I was thinking that series was as good a timing as any and clearly Maddon agreed rizzo, Baez, zobrist and Murphy needed it in particular and it's great to see those guys respond how they have thus far in this series. I'm not trying to harp on this stretch all season I'm just glad it's over and now we can all go back to talking about baseball. Looking back even though we ran out of gas a bit at the end against Milwaukee I'm really proud of how these guys handled this stretch. Ryne Sandberg when he sang the 7th inning stretch talked about how non routine long stretches like this with all the traveling is tough on players mentally and physically and he said how impressed he was about how the guys handled it and didn't make excuses and just embraced the daily grind of playing baseball

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Thanks for reminding me about Contreras. Yeah there was a stretch where Caratini was playing more than Willson. And what I’ve noticed being at the first two AZ games was that Contreras, even though he didn’t get many hits, he’s been making much better hard contact again. I really feel like he’s about to bust out too!

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Great point people forget contreras I'm not sure if he still is with a lot of days off recently but he started the most games by a catcher in the 1st half of the season. With caratini playing well lately joe has not only got willson a number of days off but this has also been a great learning experience for victor and he's shown me that he can handle this backup job. In addition I'm not saying fatigue is the reason contreras was slumping but I think fatigue may have been a factor plus he was likely just simply in a slump with his swing. Getting a few days off to go back to the lab and work on that swing may have helped contreras and it certainly seems like he's starting to hit the ball in the air rather than just rolling over and grounding out. I'm cautiously optimistic about where willson is heading with his offense he looks like he's starting to figure things out

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    We all know ( to a certain degree) that KB, Rizzo, Zobrist, Javy, and Murphy will all hit. Maybe not all on the same day, but over a course of a series, they will get theres. The key as we been saying all season is what we will get out of the Schwarbenator, Contreras, Happ/Almora, and Addy ( less so w the addition of Murphy now.

    If we can get any 2 of those guys hot, along w the consistent performers, this offense is just as good as some of this DH aided AL lineups.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    We just have to hope Willson is closer to that 1h 2017 hitter then this 18' version.

    I will even settle for now w somewhere in-between.

  • No bad mouthing Old Joe today?

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    I didn't realize that they were 18-10 during that brutal stretch. That is remarkable And they were facing some really good starting pitchers (Syndergaard, DeGrom, Foltenywicz, Scherzer, Noles) and won all but one of those games. That weirdly brutal 3 games in 3 days in 3 cities and 2 time zones. They played the #2 team in the league (MIL), the top 3 teams in the NL East (all away) in ATL, PHL, and WAS, and the 3rd place team in the NL West. They won all the series except against MIL.

    I think that the Brewers had their little hot stretch is over. And their losses are starting to pile up. They are 4 games back in the loss column with a little over 10 to play for Chicago. The Cubs are starting to get good pitching again. Let's hope that the offense has worked out its funk. If they have, they are the team to beat in the NL.

    And just think, next year we will (hopefully) have a healthy Brandon Morrow and Yu Darvish. As well as getting something resembling normal production from Bryant, Contreras. This team will plausibly be better next year than they were before.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    There are going to have be a lot of changes in the lineup for next year though. Guys like Happ, Russell and Almora just aren't going to cut it as semi-full time players going forward. You can make that case for Schwarber too although I continue to believe he'll improve more than the others. You need another contact bat and another high OBP guy. Also I do wonder if they'll both play in FA and pick up Hamel's option of $20 mil as the Rangers are only on the hook for the $6 mil if the Cubs decline it. Sign one of the big FA and pick up Hamels deal and you might be looking at a $220-$230 mil payroll and I have no idea if they'll spend that much.

    All that said I'll worry about all that in November. This team is going to go into the playoffs with the best rotation in the NL and probably the third best rotation in the game after Houston and Cleveland. I'm bullish on their chances.

  • In reply to TC154:

    This is what it all comes down to. With a team as deep and talented as the Cubs, you just ride the highs and lows of a marathon season, stay in contention, and hopefully play your best ball when it counts. We preach it all year. Not that we shouldn't enjoy the ride along the way, we certainly celebrate a Bote walk-off slam and bemoan the victories given away, but this is what matters when you are a fan of a perennial contender.

    The addition of Hamels was immeasurable, solidifying a rotation that showed serious flaws throughout the season. Murphy adds a professional AB that was sorely lacking. I'm already preparing myself for the defensive gaffes that will cost us runs in key postseason spots, but he really gives this lineup a different look. I expect to see a lot of him leading off, getting his three AB's, and swapping in Russell as the game winds down. And in a final ironic twist the bullpen, the most consistent unit throughout the season, is now the biggest question mark. Who guessed the after-thought addition of Chavez could potentially play such a huge role?

    I like our chances. Play ball. Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yes. I think they realized Hamels has a lot left & he gave the team a huge bump, especially his fellow starters. Look how well they’ve all performed since his arrival.

    Murphy was a huge bump for the offense as well. If they didn’t get that spurt of offense when he arrived, not sure where they’d be right now.

    Chavez & De La Rosa have been awesome as well. I admit that I was skeptical of those 2 moves. They’ve proved their worth.

    Let’s get another tonight, taking advantage of a team on the ropes.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Hamels was a huge acquisition. Getting him meant that, for a couple turns of the rotation, the Cubs could dependably get 5-6 innings (or more). It gave everyone a chance to catch their breath. Now, suddenly, Quintana slots in as a #4. I can live with that.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I am probably putting the cart before the horse talking about next year. That is true. But I think that Russell, Happ and Almora, at their very low price, are likely to stick around. I don't think the Cubs are looking to spend a ton of money on them. But as long as they are cheap they are valuable. So I disagree with your premise.

    As most know I am more worried about K's than almost anyone. And Russell and Happ get more than their share, though Russell is close to league average. So why would I want to keep these guys around?

    Simple. Versatility. They allow the Cubs to have some solid output for minimal cost and they check a couple interesting boxes.

    Almora - If you are worried about contact then Almora is a guy to KEEP, not drop. He has the 4th lowest K% on the team and a full 3.5 points better than the next guy on the list (Russell, as a matter of fact). He has a very low BB% so his OBP is based largely on his BA. But it isn't as ridiculously low as Baez's was in July (and I note that Baez is improving his BB%!). Almora's OBP is not likely to be terribly high given his low BB% and relatively low power, but as a defensive replacement and a guy who can just plain put the bat on the ball all for under $1M I don't know that you will find someone a lot better for that rate. Besides, Almora could be sent to the minors if necessary (he has 2 option years remaining) to get his bat on track. Maybe that is what you meant by him "Not cutting it as a semi-full time player." Maybe I am sentimental about Almora. If I am getting 1 fWAR out of a semi-full time player I can live with that.

    Happ - Obviously he struggles with contact. Oddly he struggles particularly with contact with pitches in the strike zone. So, why would I want to keep him? Simple. While he is not proficient at any defensive position he can competently stand at 2B, 3B, LF, CF. Having this kind of versatility, along with being a switch-hitter with some pop can make him extremely valuable. Teams usually seem to try to have roles filled. They like having a guy and someone else to back him up on the roster at all times. They like having multiple guys that can hit LH. The Cubs "2-deep" gets a little thinner if we remove Happ. If you do that suddenly your back-up CF is Heyward. Which is fine. But his defense isn't as elite in CF as in RF. And whoever we put in RF in his place is likely to be a big step down. While I certainly don't want Happ getting 400+ PAs in CF I can live with him out there occasionally, covering ground in LF, maybe even playing an odd-game at 2B or 3B. Again, he will give you 1 fWAR for roughly league minimum.

    Russell - To me lots of Russell's value lies in how he extends the roster in other ways. Obviously, Russell has struggled with the bat this year. And a wRC+ of 78 is ugly no matter how I try to paint it. But he is such a good defender and are we sure that signing another SS will give us that huge of an improvement without breaking the bank? And to me signing a SS for better offense for, let's say, $10M AAV for 3-4 years might be a significant risk. And I don't know how much improvement we would get for that anyway. Besides, Russell's 1.3 fWAR is about in line with his salary.

    In my opinion it is blithe to say that we might be looking at a $220-230M payroll. In fact, baseball-reference lists salaries of guys. CURRENTLY on the roster if all options are picked up and using arbitration estimates--for which there is obviously guesswork--to be around $223M. Even if we subtract off the $6M that TEX will pay to Hamels that doesn't leave a lot of room to sign much in the way of FA.

    So, under the new CBA, if I understand it correctly from what I have read, the penalties for "luxury tax" are going to become more punitive. It used to just be $$$ on the overage. I think it will start to become decreased IFA allotments and possibly even a trimmed down draft. THAT is hitting a team like the Cubs where it hurts. Signing FA has been hit-or-miss for the Cubs as with almost all (if not all) teams. Looking at the top teams there is A LOT of home-grown talent there. Yes, all of them have made some significant FA acquisitions, some shrewd trades. But there is a solid core on all of them, I think, of guys who came up through their system. Everyone has known for years that in a couple years the Cubs roster is going to start getting REALLY expensive. Signing a FA SS with anything like Russell's defense and better offense is going to likely add to that cost AND start to overlap with other players getting prohibitively expensive.

    Finally, I am not willing to concede that we can truly know what we have, or assign them the label "not going to cut it as semi-full time players." Each of these guys is age 23 (Happ) or 24 (Almora/Russell). It is not uncommon that guys like this will suddenly become much better quickly. I also think that Russell was battling an injury and only went on the DL for it in August. Recall that last year at this time people were insisting that the Schwarber experiment was an obvious failure. And that Zobrist was simply getting "too old." Obviously there is no guarantee that these guys will suddenly "get it" but nor is there a guarantee that a FA brought in will perform. And dropping Almora, Russell and Happ you would be giving up on about 3.5-4 fWAR for a total salary of <$4.5M, 2 of whom are very good defenders, another is a switch-hitter that can cover OF and infield, if not particularly well but has power and an above average wRC+.

    Do you have anyone in mind for who you would sign to cover these spots and give similar production for less than 2x that amount of money? The Cubs have flaws. But if our biggest problem is a couple of guys age 23-24 who are all around 1-1.5 fWAR, 2 of whom play very good defense at premium positions, and are all relatively cheap I would say that is an enviable problem to have. I wouldn't mind the Cubs signing a veteran back-up CF, preferably one that bats LH, for a relatively short term contract. But I don't know for sure that the Cubs can do that. And I am willing to deal with having Almora, Russell and Happ out there and hope that they can improve on their individual weaknesses. Something I believe is possible for some, if not each of them. And I am willing to wait and see. The Cubs roster allows them to carry guys like this. Partly BECAUSE of guys like this. Maybe I am more bullish than you on them. But they are talented players. And still young enough to put things together.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Add to the fact that if Baez goes to the DL for any reason, or needs a few days off, who else besides Russell can replace his defense? No one. That is why I believe Russell stays.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Outstanding analysis, Joel. Couldn't agree more.

    I love AA and would definitely not give up on him. Not even close. He was a key catalyst for the team in the first half. He is so solid all the way around. Ballplayer!

    I cursed Russell repeatedly after one weak, terrible AB after another. Questioned what happened to him, especially his power which simply disappeared. Then we got the answer. He had been playing hurt. He's entitled to a Mulligan for the season.

    Happ? To be honest, I was disappointed every time Happ was in the lineup taking ABs from Schwarber and AA. But, you're right Joel. He was a lot of value. And he's gotten some big hits and homers to win a few ballgames. And he's still maturing. Don't want to give up on him either -- unless he's part of a package for young, cost controlled pitcher.

    But the main thing is this: They are all still very, very young. And, in any event, the only future I'm worried about now runs only through October.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I'm looking forward to a very happy Halloween. Game 7, Oct. 31st, though I think we clinch before then. Cubs over Cleveland in 6, which will be at Wrigley. I'm gonna have to make a Javy costume.

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    In reply to TTP:

    While I appreciate the compliment there are certainly some holes in my analysis. Obviously I tried to put a positive spin on things. The truth is all three have been decent back-ups but giving them a ton of PAs likely hurt the team this year in total.

    The core of my disagreement is that I believe that all three guys best days are ahead of them rather than behind them. And if we can harness those "better days" while paying them at or below market value I say "where do I sign"?

    Further, my weakness in evaluating players is I probably over-estimate the value of "versatility" and the "lengthen the roster" quality of having a guy who can play a premium position. Most teams in baseball history have a back-up SS that is a black-hole on offense. In previous generations that was "acceptable" but now things are swinging toward "What have you HIT for me lately?" But I believe a .280/.350/.420 slash line is in there for Russell and if he can do that with his fluid defense he suddenly becomes a VERY GOOD SS.

    I believe in Almora's defense and believe his ability to make contact will help him on offense, though I doubt he ever gets to more than 15 HR power.

    And Happ's ability to occupy multiple positions and hit from both sides of the plate is valuable in my opinion. I still say part of the reason that the Cubs won Game 4 in SF in 2016 was because Coghlan could plausibly play LF or infield if required. And Contreras could cover LF if required. Maddon forced Bochy's hand and "forced" him to switch pitchers and was able to take advantage of extreme versatility (a catcher who could also play LF). Put on top of that Happ's ability and willingness to take a BB and the power to do damage with his bat and I like having him on the roster. And I believe his K% will drop as he gains maturity.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Very nicely written. Having young, cost controlled players at almost every position on the field is a huge (and enviable) luxury for the Cubs. Not only that, but they will get better. See Baez, Javy and Schwarber, Kyle for recent examples.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Every player does not get better

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    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    But there is not a good way of knowing whether Russell, Almora and Happ will get better or not. Nor was there a guarantee that Baez and Schwarber would bounce back going into this season.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Addison's cup of coffee with the Cubs is almost done !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Or maybe it isn't.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Nailed it Joel. Well written.

  • In reply to TC154:

    You will get your regular turnover next year of about 8 players who won’t be Cubs, mostly bullpen guys. I doubt highly Murphy stays, he blossomed late in his career and never hit the big score contract and will want that one last good payday that the Cubs won’t give him.

    We see these guys everyday. We see their flaws and know them better than the national media. If anything, we should be even more aware of how good they are but many still don’t see that. There are kinks in the armor yes but, just how good are the Cubs?

    Damn good! The Central division combined is 45 games over .500. The East and West are no where close to that. We even know Cincy is no slouch, they just have no pitching. With all the adversity...the schedule...the injuries..the off season bust signings....the regression of several players the Cubs have actually been great! Only Houston has been as impressive.

    Cleveland, NY and Boston have records based on playing dregs. Tampa has actually benefited some from that too.

    Getting Hamels has turned out to be the FO play of the year. He seems to have had an effect that has rubbed off onto the other starters. I expect Strop to be back and actually be a decent contributor.

    The way it sits right now are the 10 playoff teams we will probably wind up with........who do we want coming out of the WC?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    The four likely WC teams are Milwaukee, St. Louis, Colorado and LA. I think Milwaukee is a lock unless the Cardinals ambush them in their upcoming series which I don't see happening, so they likely host the game. Personally I think they would beat Colorado and Freeland as he is not as good on the road as he is at Coors but they could have trouble with Mikolas and there is no doubt in my mind that Kershaw would beat them. LA scares me more in a 5 game series than a 7 game, the Rockies don't really concern me but Milwaukee and St. Louis know us too well for my tastes. Best case scenario is probably Colorado, but it sure looks like Milwaukee to me right now.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Best case scenario is Mil waits at home for the winner of a tied LA-StL game. Let them all run around and wear out their best starters.

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    In reply to RayA:

    That would be beautiful, but not happened. Dodgers are going to win that division by 2+ games after the take care of the Rockies today.

    Our best shot is Milwaukee, Colorado, and the Cards all finishing w the same record. Cards going to have to beat on the Brewers and we are going to have to lay down for the Cards 2 of 3 or whatever to "facilitate" the tie.

    Then we pray Atlanta w their young roster and crap pen shocks the world and beats LA ( or at least drags them 5 games).

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I might disagree with you on the Bosox and Stankees. I dont like either one of them, but Id take Betts JDM or Bendettetti any day of the week. There SP isnt chopped liver either, and Kimbrel is an elite closer. The Stankees have An explosive offense, where Stanton might be the 3rd or 4th best offensive player in there lineup(Id take Judge , Gleybar , Andujar or even DDG over him). If the Stankees had 3 dfecent starters theyd be tough to handle, and there bullpen, when healthy matches up with anyones. Cleveland OTOH, you are correct about. Excellent starting pitching, inconsistent offense, terrible BP. If they played in our division theyd be where the Pirates are.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Disagree on the Indians pen. It's been excellent for a month with Miller getting healthy and Hand, Cimber and Allen all performing. As far as offense if Donaldson gets hot they're as good as anyone. Boston is a great team but the bullpen is shaky and Price has to perform for them to go deep. Houston's bullpen is rough and their offense isn't what it was although of course it still can be. It's inarguable that their rotation is the best in the game. I think Cleveland has the pitching and the balance to do some real damage. If the Cubs were to get their I'd like our chances against Boston, like them a bit less against Houston, and would expect to lose to Cleveland. Just my take.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Houston's pen is darn good. Check out the numbers and performance. Our ole pal Hector Rondon is doing some fine work. They don't have the names of say the Yankees in the pen, but its performing as one of the best.

    The Astros have no obvious weakness besides the obvious health which could take any contender down a notch.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I've watched them some and listened to a lot of commentary about their pen. The numbers are good, but most of their fans and members of the media don't trust them in the playoffs. I guess we'll all see. I think Houston loses to Cleveland in the ALDS. Just a call.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    What I mean is the 10 teams will be:
    Bos
    NY
    Cleve
    Hou
    Oak/

    Cubs
    ATL
    LA
    St Lou
    Mil

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    NL Central is ~45 games over .500! Now that is something that is very significant, but has it ever been noted on the Eastcoast Sports Network? Maybe as a small aside, if at all.

    But the fact that the Cubs are playing a disproportionately large amount of their games against significantly better teams than other divisonal teams, and still have the best record in the NL, is a huge accomplishment. They rarely get easy series to play.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Any thought that the NLC is 45 gamesover .500 due to the record of the ALC being almost 150 under .500 excluding Cleveland and the NLC played the ALC in inter league play?

  • In reply to stix:

    That’s a good point....how well has the NLC done against the ALC this year? I dunno........
    Take those away and I would still think the NLC leads the others by a good margin.

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    Now is a good time to remember that as much as we might criticize Joe or the players or the team each inn or game the big picture is that, as Joel pointed out, they are 18-10 over the longest consecutive game streak I can remember and against some of the best pitchers in the league and most likely the CYA winner to. This organization knows what it’s doing both short term and long term.
    On a personal note, to day is Yom Kippur, our day of Atonement, so I want to apologize to anyone I’ve offended during the year. Thank you.
    I’ll wait until BP asks me to and then answer him—we’ve done very well since he first asked.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Shana Tova to you Jonathan & all of our Jewish Cubs Den writers & commenters.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Pardon my lack of knowledge in addressing the subject, but would it be Happy Yom Kippur?

    This question is soon to take on a much more significant impact, so let's ride it to a hopefully happy ending:

    Thank you! May I have another?

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yes You May!!

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Usually you would say have a happy and then put the Holiday in there, but Yom Kippur is our Day of Atonement so it’s not a “happy” time. You can say “have a easy fast” or Shana Tovah” as Mike said. We fast (no water or food) from sundown to sundown so tonight at sundown I’ll be able to eat or drink. Many Jews go to Temple at night and during the day. I watched the Cubs last night.
    I’m really bending our rules of Cubs only here but I tried to answer you BP and maybe it was helpful to others too.
    Now, back to the Cubs!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I appreciate the info. Google answers everything but it's nice to hear with a personal touch. Thank you.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks for the explanation, Jonathan. It starts to fill a giant blind spot. And I don't think it bends the "Cubs only" rule AT ALL. You aren't proselytizing. You aren't lecturing. You aren't condescending. You aren't ranting. You are answering a legitimate question asked by another poster. The question was posed respectfully, answered respectfully. It would be like worrying about bending the "Cubs Only" rule to wish those in the path of Florence safety.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Thanks Joel.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Love a happy ending

  • The Cubs are just one game away from a tough run of luck with the weather on our schedule. In the end, I guess the mlb handled this the way that they felt was best overall even if it penalized the one team. The players and manager showed character pushing through and trusting their depth. I'm sure that they be happy to be at home for a time

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    Thank god Cishek has been so damn productive, but has anyone ever had their top 3 FA acquisitions in one winter all basically flop and the team still make the playoffs? ( Yea, I know Morrow was great while he was healthy before he tried to get on his skinny jeans)

    Cubs have had some bad bad FA signings in their history, but a threesome like this ? I dunno. Regardless, what a resilient bunch we have !

    Now lets make some history !

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    You're right. I forgot about Chatwood. Or maybe I just tried to block him from my memory. I think Cishek is a prime candidate to regress. But by the same logic I think Darvish, Morrow, Bryant, Contreras are all likely to improve. And I think it is also possible that Almora, Russell and Happ will also improve. On balance I like this team. I think they can make some noise in the playoffs. And watch out for next year.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Excellent point Jim. Chatwood has been nearly a complete bust, Morrow - while solid before his mishap is off the map until next year now, and Darvish, who was supposed to be one of the anchors for the rotation only started 8 games for the season and was not even remotely dominating for those games.

    Thankfully Hendricks rediscovered his mechanics, Lester has been generally solid, trading for Hamels covered up the Darvish hole, Quintana has been dependable and occasionally excellent and the bullpen has been regularly brilliant!

    And it appears that the offense has been picking up again. I would never have thought that I would be a fan of Daniel Murphy - but also a solid pick-up at exactly the right time.

    When was the last time a Cubs team won their division 3 years in a row?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Monty stepped into the starting role admirably as well, covering up the Chatwood hole. The Cubs did win a lot of those Chatwood games, though, regardless of how he pitched. How huge has Monty been?

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Very huge Stout, very huge indeed! I realized I hadn't raved about Montgomery in that post shortly after I hit the 'comment' button.

    He's still a bit inconsistent as a SP - but as a #4 or #5 guy, or as an emergency guy - he's been far more than just adequate.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Still think back to how great of a trade Theo made in getting Montgomery for Vogelbach and Blackburn. I think that was the pitcher; or maybe it was Pierce Johnson? Either way, what a great trade that has turned out to be! Monty got the game 7 WS save, and is still doing whatever it takes to help cubs win games in his bullpen/starter role.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Absolutely a great trade !

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Theo has a golden sombrero of fa signings last winter. Darvish,duensing,morrow and walkwood

    I think darvish will be fine going forward.Morrow when healthy was good but he's seriously one of the most fragile players I've ever seen in my life.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Didn't they make up for it at the trade deadline?

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    Josh James the starter for the Astros who was throwing 100 last night was a 34th round draft pick from Western Oklahoma......... the rich just get richer.

    How can they have this guy along w Forrest Whitley along w 2 other pitchers supposedly rated higher then Josh James.

    I am starting to believe its not the drafting....... I am starting to think our developing of pitching is not what it needs to be.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I think that’s changing. They hired a pitching guru last year, if I remember correctly. Yesterday Matt Swarmer, a 19th rounder, was named the Cubs minor league pitcher of the year. He’s just 1 example, but I believe you’ll be seeing more of that coming.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    I hope your right, and Matt Swarmer is leading our rotation in 2020 or 2021.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    "Starting to believe"? I'm well past that point. They are definitely doing something right with the pitching in Houston. On one hand I wish I knew so we could replicate their success, but on the other, darker hand I may not want to know. Maybe it's in the water, but I lived in Houston for several years during my college days and the water didn't help me. Though, to be honest, I drank many more fermented beverages than straight water. :)

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Well I was thinking it was a 90% drafting issue, because I figured we had a top notch developing program, the best money could buy........

    Now after a few years, I am starting to think maybe we are picking the right guys and developing them incorrectly.

    Regardless, its all still guesses and speculation. Only thing certain is we are def doing something very different then what the top teams are.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    yeah, they are making good trades, something Luhnho has been doing ever since his time in St Louis(now you know why the Cards tried to rip them off) . Verlander Cole Morton Osuna even Kuechel were all acquired in trades or minor FA signings. I certainly didnt remember Charlie Morton hittng 97/98 during his time either in Atlanta or Pittsburgh, 2 orgs with a pretty good rep for developing pitchers. Montes, there best self developed prospect, still hasnt craqcked there rotation yet, and likely wont since James has apparently passed him.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    TINSTAAP. There are things you can do to be "better" at developing pitching but there is also a good deal of luck involved. The same holds true for hitters, but hitting is a more stable skill, IMO.

    To me a guy throwing 100 doesn't usually last until the 34th round no matter WHAT other "issues" he has. Some of it is probably "development" but I think this had more to do with "luck" and adding at least 5 mph or someone would have gobbled him up no matter where he was.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Jim........I am very familiar with the Astros and their philosophy on drafting and pitcher development.
    1. The Astros were a below 500 team from 2007 thru the 2014 season with the exception of 2008 with a decent team.
    2. The Astros are the only team in MLB history to have 3 consectutive #1 overall picks (201-2013-2014). They did not sign their 2014 draft pick and received the #2 pick in the 2015 draft (Alex Bregman) to go with their #5 overall pick (Kyle Tucker).
    3. Josh James was selected in the 2014 draft. He has slowly climbed the ladder, making it to the big league club in 5 years.
    4. Forrest Whitley was the #17 overall pick out of HS in 2016. He was a stud in HS and despite his PED suspension this year, continues his climb. He is a big pitcher.
    5. The Astros used a tandem approach to pitchers in the minor leagues from Low A ball to Triple A for 2 years. That helped them identify strengths, flaws, etc.
    6. The Astros used of advance pitching metrics is awesome. From the use of elevated pitches high in the zone to greater use of curves (and spin rate) allowed them to exploit launch angles when offenses went to the HR happy approach.
    7. When Jeff Luhnow took over as GM, they had Altuve, Springer, Kuechel, JD Martinez, DeShields, Foltynewicz and Velaquez already in the system. Luhnow released, traded or exposed to Rule 5 the last 4 guys.
    8. Luhnow's 2012 draft was spectacular. 2013 and 2014 were underwhelming. 2015 will become and/or is spectacular. 2016-2018 are too early to tell although Whitley seems to be the real deal.

    It just takes 1 stud to make a draft seem awesome. I believe the Astros have the best pitching analytics department in MLB and their Minor and major league coaching staff is, I believe, the best from bottom to top.

    As an aside, Verlander was not just rejuvinated when he joined the Astros. They coaching staff worked with him to change his approach and pitch selection. Garret Cole is talked about internally as being the single hardest working pitcher on the team, not just currently, but ever.

    Part of me thinks that Chili Davis was brought in to bring an approach that can counter the Astros pitching tendencies if we face them in the WS. Enough on them, Go Cubs!!!

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Mark Appel didn't turn out very well.

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    I say we keep all our position players, unless we find a legit lead off hitter. But those are hard to come by nowadays. Even Dex wasn't your normal lead off guy. Nothing against him, but he had a great year in 2016. Imo a high obp great baserunner with some speed is all you need. We already have a few. Another high contact hitter would be great but that's all.
    If anything, the Cubs should resign Wilson(or sign someone comparable), add SP & RP depth, and try to find a true closer. Pitching & defense is very valuable. We already have the offense. Murphy's bat is great, but he lacks at every other aspect of the game.

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    I don’t see how someone who throws 100 lasts until the 34th round. You can’t teach that just like you can’t teach Terrance Gore speed. We’ve seen however that ML hitters can hit velocity, it’s more movement and location than just velocity. We’ve seen how Theo values pitchers with plus secondary pitches. Swarmer doesn’t have a very impressive FB but he does the other things very well.
    Our top FA Signings may not have performed very well, but with Hamels and Murphy and Chavez he’s made up a lot for those. We are peaking at the right time. I’m so much more confident now than all season.
    Go Cubs!!

  • Breaks my heart to see the dirty birds lose today.....

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    (The NotReadyForPrimeTime Players:)

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    Bleacher report just came out with a crap article saying the Cubs & Dodgers are favorites to sign Harper. I'm sure the Cubs will put in a conservative bid, but I don't want him on the team. Even if Heyward opts out, which he won't, no thank you to Harper. We need more pitching depth and defense. If they get any position player, it should be for a good defensive veteran catcher. Or trade for Whit Merrifield from the Royals. I know he's good at the plate, but I've never seen him defensively. Fangraphs has him @ .987 FP, but I don't know if he has good range, instincts, baserunning, etc.

  • Sign Machado to play SS/2B/3B and trade Russell instead of Harper.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I meant: Sign Machado to play SS/2B/3B instead of Harper and trade Russell.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    The Cubs will never sign Machado with three SS in the top 30 and declining defense its a bad fit .
    Harper a maybe but a long shot. As far as trading Addison that's a real possibility.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I'm not sure why fans want to sign either Harper or Machado to a long term high AAV contract when the majority of those deals don't pan out. They can spend their money in better ways.

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    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    And add to the fact that Machado isn't even close to as good defensively as Russell. We already have enough offense. We need defense up the middle. I'd take 38 yr old Zo over Machado who will easily cost over 250 million.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Sorry to disagree with you people but Machado is every bit as good on defense as Russell or even better. He definitely has a better arm. He's only 26 yrs old and has a career OPS of .821 and has been in the majors since 2012. If anyone is worth all that money it is him.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Machado is a better third baseman than Russell but he is not a ss in Russell’s defensive ability. His sabermetrics at short make him one of the lowest rated defensive ss in th NL.

    CUBS can’t afford Machado as he impacts all sorts of “ salary” caps which lead to cash penalties and reduced intl funds as well as draft slotting.

  • In reply to stix:

    Where are you getting your info? MLB Player Graphs show Machado's Career FPCT at SS (.974) and Russell's Career FPCT at SS (.971). I agree he may be too expensive but he sure would be worth it if anyone is.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I was relying on an article in the Baltimore press that said Machado had -20 DRS this yr at short by mid June. Not a good total especially for this site.

  • In reply to stix:

    Just checked fangraphs and Machado is rated the 22 nd best defensive ss through today

  • In reply to stix:

    DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) vs FPCT (Fielding Percentage). DRS would include many other factors not under the control of the fielder including opportunities and other fielders (the Orioles were a last place team with one of the worst records). FPCT shows the individual's plays without errors.

  • In reply to stix:

    I thought we were comparing him with Russell. What is Russell ranked?

  • In reply to stix:

    No reply button to Clark so I used this one . Russell ranks 12 and has a net 27 more DRS than Machado . Flag % means if I stand in one place and catch everything I’m 1000% fielder. Don’t believe that’s a good measurement. Fangraphs has Machado 10 places lower than Russell including all their defensive metrics.

  • In reply to stix:

    You can pick and choose whatever you want but I think we both know who is the better all around player by far. Check the Fangraph's "VALUE" category.

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    In reply to stix:

    clarkAddson - I think DRS is a much better statistic than Fielding Pct. I think it values the contribution of a fielder better than Fielding Pct. And I disagree that it includes that many factors not under the control of the fielder. At its most basic level it assigns a "zone" to each position that they believe an average player should be able to make. If a player makes plays OUTSIDE of his zone or makes an exceptional play he is credited. If he fails to make a play that should have been made he is debited.

    Can it be skewed? Yes, it can. So can any statistic. For that matter, so can our powers of observation ("The Eye-Test"). Fielding Percentage can be skewed much more egregiously, though, IMO. It can be skewed by a player simply not bothering to try to make a play. And doesn't credit a player for making an exceptional play. For this reason I trust DRS and UZR (among other things) FAR MORE than Fielding Pct.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I can't argue with you about each sabermetric statistics because I am sure you know more about them than I do (most people do). In my opinion a person can pick a certain sabermetric category to prove any point they want to make. Obviously, I do not use them but if I did than what sabermetric category would you recommend to get a player's overall worth? How about the "VALUE" category?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    No way ! Everybody seems to know this except you. And MM says he only wants to play SS, not 3rd base. Not worth the money.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Who is ??????

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    For all you that rely on Fangraph's sabermetrics: Machado's current VALUE is much higher than Russell's (see below).

    Machado: RAR (56.4) WAR (5.8) VALUE $ (46.5)

    Russell: RAR (13.0) WAR (1.3) VALUE $ (10.8)

    I am not saying he is worth all that money but I am saying he is worth a lot more than Addison Russell and so does Fangraph's sabermetrics.

    My original statement: "Machado is every bit as good on defense as Russell or even better." is based on what I have seen from both SSs, not sabermetrics. To compare their fielding stats at SS is like comparing apples to oranges since Machado hadn't even played SS until around the allstar game (a very small sample and like most he will probably get better at SS after playing there for a while.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Don’t want either one for several reasons.....

    They are just cogs in the wheel elsewhere and have never won a thing.
    Their cost is unrealistic for what we get out of them.
    We win now without them.....you give them that kind of money means less for the ones we need to keep.
    Neither one of them pitch.....that will be our most pressing need near term.

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    I live in central FL and go to a few Ray's games with the kids every season. It's sad that they're in the AL East. They'd be winning the division in the NL East, NL West, & AL Central right now if it wasn't for NY & Boston.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    In Kissimmee now.......hate all the toll roads down here :(

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    In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Its sad. If you could get some of those people down there ( there are enough people) to start going to the games and supporting the team, then maybe they could get a new park. Imagine that franchise w some Cash?

    I lived in So florida for 11 years and went to Rays games occasionally. Now I have a business in Bartow so go down there 4-5x a year so visit the Trop a few times and there is nobody there unless the Yanks or redsox are in town. I remember when the whitesox played the Rays in the playoffs, the poor scalpers outside couldn't even sell the tickets. It would be sad if it wasn't so pathetic.

    That area doesn't deserve a smart well run franchise if they won't go out and support a playoff team. They had enough chances to support that team, so they should move if they are genuinely not making enough money. I know their tv viewership is actually pretty good and they def get rev sharing. I do know how billionaires love to cry broke, so who really knows?

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    In reply to Wrigley0923:

    1 thing that is certain, nobody wants to play the Rays in a wild card game and face Cy Young contender Blake Snell.......

  • Allen webster added , morrow to 60 day dl.

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    In reply to bolla:

    You called it !!

    Hope he has a 95+ fastball and knows how to command it

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    Matt Harvey turned into a pumpkin in Milwaukee. Maybe too much beer and bratwurst before the game........

    Brewers up 4-0 in the 3rd and just crushing the ball all over the field.

    Yelich 2-2 already........Just needs a 3B and HR for his 3rd cycle, LOL

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    Anyone know where Greg Simmons is and his fearless projections?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Crying over spilled milk over the Cards loss today !

  • Brewers going on the road, three with the Bucs and three with the Cards should produce a 500 road trip and put the Cubs over the top.
    GO CUBS !

  • The Cubs may come back tonight but 2 out of 3 in Arizona ain't bad.
    Not a good night for KB. A day of rest tomorrow is just what the Doctor ordered.

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    1 out and his ERA dropped from 9.64 to 9,00 !!

    He's on the move .......

    All kidding aside, Very Nice K by Maples....... I hope he can surprise us all and do for us this year what CJE did for the 16' team.

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