Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jake arrieta beard featureHeading into the latest road trip, you totally would have taken four wins, right? Four games in Pittsburgh and three in Cincinnati. It’s always interesting to me to look back on how things actually played out and compare to what I’d wanted/expected – and I definitely would have been happy with a 4-3 trip. The Cubs bested that by a half game thanks to the rainout, and, even if I think about those two losses against the Pirates and how the Cubs should have won at least one of them, I can’t be anything but happy about that trip.

Mostly I just love that I can even think about these kinds of things this season. It matters, and that feels good.

  • If you’ve been waiting on Jake Arrieta’s inevitable regression from 2014 – after all, nobody breaks out THAT much in their late 20s and sustains it, right? (read sarcastically) – he’s given you four starts of crow to chew on. With another quality start yesterday, Arrieta is four for four in quality starts this year, and his 2.03 ERA so far is actually half-run better than his dominant 2014 campaign. Although his strikeout rate is slightly down, we’re not even out of April yet – I’d give him a chance to warm up before judging anything there. Otherwise, Arrieta has been the same guy in 2015 so far that he was in 2014. As we discussed ad nauseum in the offseason, there were plenty of indicators that Arrieta’s breakout 2014 season was going to be the exception for a 28-year-old – i.e., that it would be sustainable. Unlike other pop-up surprises, Arrieta’s results weren’t flukey, but were the product of overwhelming stuff, commanded excellently. Further, he had always had frontline stuff, and there were specific changes made that allowed him to better harness it. That’s the recipe, together with what the eyes tell you, for a guy whose later-career breakout is not going to be a flash in the pan. So far, so good for Arrieta in 2015, who FIP and xFIP are both in line with 2014, and are both top ten in the NL.
  • The main difference in 2015 Arrieta is that he’s better at Twitter than the 2014 version.
  • Both Arrieta and Joe Maddon agree ( that the righty’s command was a little off yesterday after he gave up a line drive homer to Todd Frazier – frankly, on a pitch Frazier had no business hitting that hard, because it was a good curve, down in the zone. But Arrieta limited the damage in a key half-inning that followed, and saw the bases loaded with nobody out. The Reds scored just one run that inning, and the Cubs won by three.

  • Joe Maddon has been impressed by the Cubs’ patience at the plate, especially among the young players, and especially by Kris Bryant (CSN). He’s also really been into what Anthony Rizzo has been doing at the plate, making the obvious – and accurate – Joey Votto comparisons (CSN).
  • The Cardinals may have lost Adam Wainwright for the year, and also suffered injuries to Yadier Molina (foul ball off of his knee) and Jason Heyward (tight groin) this weekend. The latter two are not likely to be long-lasting ailments, but it’s a reminder of how quickly things can change, even for a team considered a runaway favorite for a playoff spot.
  • Tennessee’s version of the Bash Brothers, one of whom Luke wrote about this morning:

  • If you missed anything from the Cubs’ successful weekend, catch up here.
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