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The Cubs vaulted into sole possession of first place in the NL Central with their 11 inning, 7-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Monday night. Jason Heyward again had the big hit for the Cubs. Those are words I didn’t expect to be typing a month ago. Heyward’s single of the Brewers version of Andrew Miller, Josh Hader, drove in Ben Zobrist with the game tying run in the eighth inning. Heyward also drove inning two runs in the 11th inning to provide some icing on the cake with a double to the wall in left center field. I’ve been a Jason Heyward skeptic, but recently, his turnaround has looked real. After picking up another three hits Monday night, Heyward raised his average to .281.
Jason lives! What does it mean?
Heyward has been driving the ball, not dribbling it to the right side. Most impressively, he’s been doing damage against hard throwing lefties. If Heyward’s revival is for real, it bodes well for the Cubs in the years to come. Joe Maddon has been hitting Heyward second in the lineup, and it’s been a good fit. It lengthens the Cubs batting order. With Heyward in right field and Albert Almora Jr. in center, it gives the Cubs 2/3 of an excellent defensive outfield. Ian Happ, Kyle Scharber and Ben Zobrist all provide adequate defense in left.
A Jason Heyward that’s an offensive threat also gives the Cubs some roster flexibility. If need be, Ian Happ or Kyle Schwarber becomes easier to move for pitching.
Will he be ready for the playoffs?
Speaking of pitching, it’s uncertain if Yu Darvish will pitch again before the All Star game. The Cubs can get by without him until the playoffs, and maybe even during the playoffs. The reemergence of Jon Lester as an ace has given the Cubs a decent playoff starting rotation.
Will Brewers relievers lose their hops?
It’s hard for me to see the Brewers making a run for the NL Central. A strength of the Brewers has been their bullpen. I don’t think that success is sustainable. Josh Hader has been the best reliever in the NL, but he’s already worked 37 innings and can’t be counted on to sustain that type of work load. Jeremy Jeffress has worked 32.2 innings with an ERA of 0.55. He’s also allowed only 3.9 hits per nine innings. That’s not sustainable.
That fireball you saw in Monday night’s sky was Matt Albers reentering the earth’s atmosphere. Albers and Dan Jennings were both off to great starts out of the Brewers pen, but are morphing back into themselves. Corey Knebel is a wildcard for the Brewers.
Seven is not lucky for Lucas Giolito
Meanwhile, on the Southside, Lucas Giolito briefly got his ERA below 7.00. I tweeted about and he immediately lost all command and saw his ERA balloon over 7.00 in the White Sox 4-0 loss to the Indians. Once again, he walked more than he struck out. I suspect there’s a major league pitcher in there somewhere but I suspect he’s thinking too much. He reminds me of Nuke Laloosh, minus the big time fastball. Maybe lingerie is the next step.
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