Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jason hammel cubsBy my extremely rough calculation (6 seasons, 162 games, maybe 5 games missed in that time, plus 33 games this year), last night’s was BN’s 1000th Enhanced Box Score. I still remember the idea behind doing them when I started them for the 2009 season: I like box scores, and wouldn’t it be funny to “enhance” them with something that was actually really stupid as a way of recapping the day’s game? Whether that’s what the EBS has remained or if it’s evolved, I leave to you (I certainly write more in the EBS posts than I used to back in the day). Here’s the very first EBS, if you’re curious. It used to look a little different, and yes, I was joking in that one.

  • The Cubs didn’t really “beat” Matt Harvey last night, since he was dominant for seven innings. But they did manage to get his pitch count up to 100 over the course of those seven innings, forcing him from the game just in time for the Cubs to score their two runs off of the bullpen. That’s not nothing, and deserves credit. I’m not sure a Cubs team in 2012/13/14 would have done much but be shut out for nine innings by last night’s Harvey.
  • Are you wondering, like I was, who was the better pitcher last night, Harvey or Jason Hammel? Harvey had more strikeouts and didn’t allow a run, but Hammel walked only one and went an inning deeper. Well, the answer by Win Probability Added is … ok, it’s still Harvey by quite a bit. But, still, Hammel was excellent yet again. The start was his fourth straight quality start (fifth in seven starts overall), and he dropped his ERA/FIP/xFIP to 3.11/3.36/3.36. I don’t know what it is, exactly, about being a Cub that agrees with Hammel so much, but he’s now accumulated 2.9 WAR over just 24 starts as a Chicago Cub. That’s just fantastic, and here’s hoping he keeps it up.

  • Tommy La Stella made his second extended Spring Training start yesterday, according to Arizona Phil, and ripped the ball again. The same article mentions a 15-pitch simulated game appearance by Neil Ramirez, which could mean he’s getting close to a minor league rehab stint.
  • Joe Maddon discusses Kris Bryant’s defense here at CSN, and that pat Bryant does after he fields the ball and before throwing. It’s a bit of a hitch that Bryant should probably ditch – it just takes time. I have a feeling that impacts his throws, including the ones to the wrong side of first base that put Anthony Rizzo in the way of the runner (giving us all horrible visions of a broken wrist).
  • To that end, there’s more from Maddon on defense here at the Tribune, which challenges something you were probably taught as a kid (I sure was): don’t field the ball with two hands. Maddon makes some excellent points.

  • It sounds like part of the reason for pinch-running for Anthony Rizzo in the 9th last night was the concern that Starlin Castro would ground into a double play ( That’s the two-edged sword of Castro right now: he’ll put the ball in play, which is good in those situations. But he also risks a double play, which can impact decisions like taking the best hitter out of a tie game in the 9th inning.
  • Maddon is still firmly in the “Jorge Soler is a beast” camp, but the strikezone judgment issues persist (ESPN, Tribune).
  • Former Cub Lendy Castillo – remember when the Cubs lost a Rule 5 Draft pick because of Castillo shenanigans? – has signed a minor league deal with the Rangers.
  • A great read at BP Wrigleyville from Matt Trueblood on how unique it would be for a team this young to win.
  • The latest episode of Limited Range is out, and you can listen here, get the RSS feed here, or subscribe on iTunes here.
  • If you missed it amidst the pitchers’ duel last night, Michael wrote about the Cubs’ bullpen usage, which may surprise you.

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