Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

kyle hendricks cubs featureThe bleachers open this evening at Wrigley Field, and I hope to see some of you there. The two times the Cubs have won in the last nine games (EDIT: sorry, forgot about a third win, started by Jason Hammel on Friday – all the losses have bled together), Jon Lester has been the starter. He starts again tonight, so, like, guaranteed win, right?

  • Like we discussed yesterday, Joe Maddon had a good reason for pulling Kyle Hendricks at 85 pitches: increasingly hard contact Maddon explained, adding “for those that are paying attention.” (CSN) I know some folks don’t like seeing the starters pulled early only to then watch the bullpen blow it, but (1) that doesn’t mean the pull decision was wrong, (2) it means the bullpen needs to be better (in performance or construction), and (3) you don’t know that the starter wasn’t about to get blown up as he’s fading. I remain fully on board with pulling starters relatively early when they show signs of wear/being hit hard after their second time through the order. I just wish the bullpen were a little more effective.
  • Speaking of which, Zac Rosscup, who had been solid overall this year, gave up a couple solo homers yesterday to a couple of the Brewers’ least dangerous hitters. At the time, I thought Rosscup was trying to come inside to each guy, but just didn’t come far enough in, but on re-watching, I was mistaken. Each time, Rosscup was supposed to go outside with a fastball, and simply missed his spot – badly – over the heart of the plate. That’ll happen sometimes, I suppose, and the batter won’t always make you pay. This time, Martin Maldonado and Elian Herrera, in succession, made him pay big-time.

  • Joe Maddon likes Addison Russell continuing to hit 9th for now, in large part because of the pitches he’ll see with the top of the order behind him rather than the pitcher, and because it’s less pressure than hitting high up in the order (CSN, Tribune).
  • The Cubs lost a chance to try and win the game in the 10th inning yesterday when David Ross was called for interference on a hard slide into second base resulting in a called double play for the Brewers, ending the inning. It’s something you almost never see called, but Ross’s arm was up a bit on the slide, and that’s likely what brought the call, because it looked a little atypical for a take-out slide. That said, Ross could just as easily have been protecting his own body as he slid into the defender (which is allowed), and it didn’t look dirty or anything like that. Probably shouldn’t have been called. Ross and Maddon were both surprised, and you can see their comments and the play here.
  • The Brewers’ bullpen catcher got Kris Bryant’s first home run and returned the ball without asking for anything in return. Bryant sent him a ball as thanks. Here’s hoping Bryant goes on to a Hall of Fame career, and this becomes an extra special memory:

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