I’m still smiling. How about you?
The Chicago Cubs are in sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the first time in six years (except for after their first game in 2013). Sure, it’s completely stupid to care about that kind of thing after just one week of the season … but it’s been so long since we got to say something like that. So I’m going to say it, and I’m going to enjoy it.
- OK, a comedown moment for the Jon Lester pickoff throws. At long last, after nearly two years, Jon Lester threw to first base with a runner on. It looked awkward and uncomfortable, but it did the trick – just show the other team that you can and will do it. But then Lester went back to the well, threw again, and this happened:
For posterity: the extent to which Jon Lester's second pickoff throw missed the mark. pic.twitter.com/zOi4lfO60J
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) April 14, 2015
- It was a full-on Matt Garza, and the subsequent Jorge Soler cannon did a good job of masking just how terrifyingly bad the pickoff throw was. For his part, Lester simply said that he released too soon because he got excited and he’s not used to throwing over (Cubs.com, ESPN), which would be a more comforting explanation if he hadn’t been practicing the throw at all. I don’t want to make this more than it is, but I’d also hate to see this particular overthrow getting into Lester’s head – which may have already had some stuff in there – and making things worse. But I also don’t think it’s fair to just dismiss this issue. It’ll come up again for Lester’s next start.
- Not that it should be the primary discussion when Lester starts again, though. Instead, the discussion should be about the much, much, much more important issue: how’s he pitching? So far, Lester’s command within the zone has been off, which has resulted in a lot of hard contact and a 45.9%(!) line drive rate. Some of that is flukey and will come down, but some of it is a lack of sharpness on Lester’s part. Given his disrupted and limited Spring Training (dead arm) and then having to take a week off between starts, I’m still not too worried that he won’t clean things up. He’s been too good for too long not to be effective if he’s healthy.
- Lots and lots of love for Jorge Soler here. If you missed this morning’s highlight reel, catch up.
- Keep an eye on the Cubs’ bullpen, which has been in heavy use the last few days. Hector Rondon has pitched in five of the Cubs’ six games, and has appeared in three straight, so you won’t see him today. A long outing from Jake Arrieta, and a big game from the bats would go a long way to helping the pen get to Thursday off-day in good shape.
- Relatedly: recent minor league signing James Russell is already pitching for the Iowa Cubs, throwing two scoreless innings (one strikeout, no hits, no walks) last night.
- Manny Ramirez on Javier Baez, who could be back with the Iowa Cubs later this week.
- The Cubs will be accepting donations – and be using the 50/50 raffle to benefit – those affected by tornadoes that swept through Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois, last week.
- At BP Wrigleyville, Matt Trueblood writes about the value of resting players, and the Cubs’ enviable position in that regard. Also, Isaac Bennett writes about being a Cubs fan in the midst of Cardinals fans.
- Late next week, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts will participate in a Trib Nation discussion about the future of the Cubs and Wrigley Field, the details of which are here, including how to get tickets (sales benefiting the Chicago Tribune Foundation).
- If you missed it last night, Michael wrote about minor league park factors, which is both more interesting and more important than you might think.
- Also, there’s a deal on BN shirts right now – 15% off everything if you use the coupon code SPRING15 when you check out.
- Hey, can I show you something? This:
— SB Nation (@SBNation) April 14, 2015