Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jake arrieta beard featureDon’t forget to check out the upcoming DraftKings contest, which can win you $1 million.

  • Yesterday, Joe Maddon implied what we’d all already been thinking for quite a while: Jake Arrieta is probably the Cubs’ starter in a one-game Wild Card playoff if it happens, but he’s not going to say it outright because the Cubs are still gunning for the division (Tribune). Even Jon Lester, who’d just dominated the Cardinals for seven innings, conceded therein that Arrieta’s probably the guy, and, if he is, Lester will be eagerly supporting his teammate.
  • Jon Lester with the comment of the freaking day on yesterday’s bullpen flop (, CSN): “Right now, it’s glaring because it’s here and now and fresh in our minds, but we’ve closed out plenty of these games this year. We’ve been doing it all year – that’s why we’re in the position we’re in and have won plenty of one-run and two-run games this year.” He’s right.

  • Joe Maddon didn’t offer too much about the bullpen’s performance in the loss, other than to say that the match-ups were right, and that’s a game the Cubs should have closed out ( I don’t have much to add, either. Some guys about whom you already had some uneasiness struggled. That’s the Cubs’ bullpen right now, and it has been for a long time. There are some issues.
  • Why no Kris Bryant pinch hitting in the 9th? Maddon said he liked Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia against Trevor Rosenthal’s velocity, and Bryant was being saved for later in the inning (ESPN). That’s unusual for Maddon – a guy who isn’t much for “saving” anything in his bag of tricks (he once pinch ran for Anthony Rizzo earlier this year to try and get a run) – but it’s defensible. Had anyone reached base, Rizzo would have gotten an AB.
  • Maddon with lots of love for Javier Baez (CSN), including his impressive defense.
  • Jake Arrieta answers questions at ESPN.
  • Scoreboard Watching from this morning, with the Cubs’ magic number shrinking despite the loss. (Also, something going through my head that I don’t even want to say out loud, but a bullet parenthetical doesn’t count: if the Cubs are going to wind up with that second Wild Card spot anyway, I wouldn’t hate it if a few teams – the Dodgers, a couple AL teams – pass them in the standings, bumping their 2016 draft spot up a few notches at no cost to the Cubs. That’s a terrible thing to think about, isn’t it? Am I so damaged by the last few years to even be thinking this way?)

  • Congrats to the Smokies’ GM:

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