The Cubs could now be a sub-.500 team for the rest of the season – 23-24, to be precise – and still win 90 games. This team has been incredible in the second half.
Of course, who wants to see the Cubs win only 90 games, right? Go 33-14 and make it an even 100. That’s actually a much worse pace than the Cubs have been playing at over their last 16 games, so …
- Joe Maddon had the right description for last night’s win, comparing it to a paint-by-numbers, rather than a masterpiece crafted by an artist (ESPN). The flubs were noticeable and damaging, and yet the Cubs still won by three runs. It never quite felt terribly tense. I’m not saying there’s some divinity in the Cubs’ winning ways these last few weeks, because they absolutely could have lost last night’s game. They just didn’t. And they just keep not losing.
- You know things are different right now when a search on Twitter for “Cubes” after a game like that yields only results about the ice variety (both frozen water and the subject of ‘Straight Outta Compton’).
- Some a-hole threw a half-full tall boy beer can at Kyle Schwarber as he fielded a double last night, and, although Schwarber and David Ross were able to have some fun with it after the game (CSN), it made me pretty mad. It reminded me of 2009, when a Cubs fan dumped a beer on Shane Victorino as he tried to make a catch. It’s just an effed up thing to do. Don’t ever, ever be that person.
- Kyle Hendricks – who has a 3.53 FIP and has been worth 2.1 WAR – says he’s felt like his mechanics have been off all season long, and he’s been struggling to pinpoint the issue (Cubs.com, Tribune). He believes he located the problem – basically it’s a number of things to do so that he can stay square to the plate as he delivers the ball – and perhaps we’ll see some fixes implemented in the coming weeks.
- Clayton Richard’s velocity has spiked significantly in relief. That’s very interesting. Travis Wood’s velocity spiked in a huge way (from 89mph to 94mph) initially when he moved to the pen, but, as he’s gone to more of a multi-inning, long-relief role, it’s headed back down toward 90 to 92mph. That’s still up, but not a huge spike. Richard, on the other hand, has spiked from 90/91mph on his four-seamer to 95mph. That’s mighty interesting, especially if it lasts. It makes you wonder if Richard could be one of those stories – guys who have their starting career derailed by injury, come back to the big leagues after rehab, maybe even on into their 30s, and reinvent themselves as a dominant reliever. (I’m getting way ahead of myself, and I also have to do the math on whether Richard will be on the big league roster long enough this season to get over six years of service time and reach free agency, rather than be arbitration-eligible heading into 2016. He was at five years and 70 days coming into 2015, according to Baseball Reference. Anyone want to do some quick calendar counting? Richard needed 102 days on the 25-man roster this year to reach the 172 needed for a full service year. He’s been DFA’d a couple times, so this might not be an easy job. This is all also largely academic, because, even if Richard is controllable, and even if he does look like a dominant reliever the rest of the way, the Cubs still might not want to tender him and use up a 40-man roster spot all offseason.)
- Tommy Birch talks to Tommy La Stella about his strange, injury-ravaged season. Because of an oblique injury and re-injury, La Stella hasn’t played in the big leagues since the first week of the season, and has been able to play just 13 minor league games so far. Given the composition of the big league roster and the pursuit of Chase Utley, it’s easy to see why the Cubs elected to option La Stella to Iowa for now, even if he’s probably a very big-league-capable bench bat, at a minimum. He’ll be up with the big team when rosters expand in September, and he’ll likely be a heckuva nice insurance policy for the Cubs heading into the 2016 season.
- For comprehensiveness: after serving a PED suspension, Arodys Vizcaino – whom the Cubs traded to the Braves, together with an IFA slot, for La Stella last offseason – has a 0.57 ERA and 2.22 FIP out of the Braves’ bullpen in 15.2 innings this year.
- Totally unrelated to the Cubs, but this Francisco Lindor double play is so impressive that I’d suggest you give it a look.
- Scoreboard Watching from earlier this morning.