Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

carlos villanueva the stacheObviously there is some scariness continuing in Boston this morning, so I hope everyone up in that area stays inside, stays safe, and the situation is resolved quickly.

  • Yet another awesome quote from The Stache, who’s been the Cubs’ best pitcher so far this year. “[I stick to the game  plan] because I don’t throw 98 [mph] and I have to,” Carlos Villanueva said, per Paul Sullivan. “I have to have an advantage somehow. I might not pitch 98, but I can throw four pitches for strikes and make those four look like eight because I can vary speeds. Most of my countrymen from the Dominican are blessed with power arms. I’m not.” It’s easy to watch Villanueva pitch and be unimpressed by his stuff because we’re so trained to dig the velocity. But he reminds me of watching (his former teammate) Shaun Marcum dominate the Cubs so many times – never touches 90, but works every inch of the zone at a variety of speeds with a variety of pitches. It’s hard for hitters to get comfortable, and pretty much all they can do is hope for a mistake like the two solo homers yesterday.
  • Obviously we’re quite a ways off, but if Matt Garza and Scott Baker (whatever happened with his doctor visit this week?) were to come back ready to go tomorrow, what would happen with the Cubs’ rotation? You can’t bounce Villanueva, and you can’t bounce Travis Wood. I guess maybe you’d have to piggyback Scott Baker, because none of Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson or Matt Garza is going in the bullpen no matter what.

  • After DFA’ing reliever Hisanori Takahashi earlier this week, the Cubs must have immediately waived him, because he cleared waivers yesterday and was outrighted to AAA Iowa. I’m a bit surprised that he accepted the assignment, but it’s possible he hasn’t been outrighted before and thus didn’t have the right to refuse the assignment. He’s advanced in age, but not in service time, so he doesn’t have some of the same rights you’d expect of a late-30s veteran.
  • Ian Stewart, who had aggressively predicted he’d be back with the Cubs before May, probably got a little screwed by the rain. The last two games have been rained out at Iowa, delaying his return. In his absence, Luis Valbuena – when he’s not swinging at pitches that hit him in the knee – has his OBP up to .364.
  • Also screwed by the rain? Kane County, which no longer gets to host Matt Garza’s first rehab start today. Instead, Garza will throw a simulated game with the Cubs in Milwaukee before heading out to Tennessee to join the Smokies for his first minor league rehab start.

  • Anthony Rizzo’s monster shot yesterday – a 475-foot homer to right center – was the longest homer in baseball this year.
  • Shawn Camp says he feels healthy this year, despite a herculean workload in 2012 and an ugly start to the 2013 season.
  • It was beautiful here yesterday, and The Wife and I wanted to take the kids out for a walk after the Cubs game ended. With Carlos Marmol pitching in the 9th, we were both nervous about the implications for the rest of our day. When Marmol got the final out in a nice slider, I audibly gasped. The Wife, thinking the Cubs had just blown it and delayed our plans, looked up at me and said, “No! What!?” Then she looked at the screen, where she could clearly see that the game was over. I said, “It’s fine, the game is over. I was just surprised at the pitch. We’re OK.” She says, “Don’t jinx us.” I respond, “But the game is over. They won.” She says, “It’s the Cubs. Something can always happen.”

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