Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

dexter fowler outfieldThe Cubs are now nine games over .500 for the first time since early August 2009 – I promise I won’t do that every time the Cubs go a new number over .500, but I will do it when they reach 10 over. That’s something they haven’t done since they were so very good in 2008.

  • It was a tentatively good sign that Dexter Fowler (left ankle sprain) pinch hit in the 10th inning with runners on first and second and was able to swing – you wouldn’t do that if he was about to miss a couple months – but the at bat was interesting. I assumed, in that situation, you’d have Fowler up there to be a decoy (just take pitches) or bunt. Getting the walk-off, winning run to third with less than two outs is the only time I endorse a bunt attempt. But Fowler didn’t do either of those things – he was actually swinging to try and get a hit. Joe Maddon defended that decision (Tribune) by saying that the pitcher, Joel Peralta, was a fly ball guy (he really is), and he wasn’t worried about Fowler hitting into a double play. The implication, though, was that he may have had a little concern about the double play if Fowler tried to bunt. In other words, Maddon must have felt like Fowler was healthy enough to hit the ball well enough to be a better option than just sending Travis Wood up there to bunt, but not quite healthy enough to run well on the bases.
  • After Fowler walked, he looked pretty gimpy jogging to first, and was immediately taken out for a pinch runner. I wouldn’t look for him to start again tonight.

  • Speaking of Fowler, a great read from Matt Trueblood on his L/R splits, and how few lefties he’s faced this year (the Cubs in general, actually).
  • Tsuyoshi Wada threw yesterday with minimal soreness, according to CSN, so it’s now conceivable that he won’t miss a start.
  • In that same piece, there’s quite a bit from Joe Maddon on the guy who won’t replace him in the rotation – Travis Wood. Maddon likes what Wood has been doing in the bullpen, and his ability to really let it go if he knows he’s facing a lineup, at most, one time through. I’ve said it before, and it’s worth noting here: the Cubs seems to be shifting, at an organizational level, to an interest in relievers who can go multiple innings (Carl Edwards, Jr., for example, just had his best Iowa outing last night, going two scoreless innings with one walk and three strikeouts). Having guys like that allows you not only to maximize their performance, but also that of your starting pitchers, because you don’t have to leave them in to face the lineup a third time if they’re not dominating.
  • Albert Almora, Jr. and Jeffrey Baez were each nominated for the play of the week in MiLB for a sterling defensive grab – Almora might not have turned the offensive corner yet, but the dude is nominated for one of these things seemingly every week.

  • An unfortunate side effect of the Cubs’ unique syndication deal with their non-CSN television games? The broadcast that is syndicated to other areas is the Chicago feed, which means when there are storms – like there were on Monday – folks in Indianapolis, as one example, will have to miss the game in favor of urgent weather updates in the Chicago area.
  • The Cubs apparently decided that Yoanner Negrin was not among their top 10 or so starting pitching depth options, as they’ve just sold his rights to a Mexican League team, per Tommy Birch. I’m not sure of the reasons, but this seems to be an almost annual thing with Negrin.
  • Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer was at the Cubs game Monday night, and it was actual news in Columbus that he was wearing blue.
  • Great picture from last night:

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