Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jon lester cubs featureI’m off to speak to a college class a couple hours away today (yeah, that’s right), so I likely won’t be around too much until later in the afternoon/evening. You should still see normal content around here, though. If something breaks, I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

  • How about the job done by Jon Lester in a huge game on the road against one of the best teams in baseball in mid-September? Lester threw a one-run complete game, striking out nine and allowing just five hits and one walk. He looked very sharp, remained unrattled when the game got tight late, and when he was already at 105 pitches after eight innings and scheduled to bat first, Joe Maddon let him hit in a one-run game so that he could go back out there for the ninth. It felt like the right decision then, and Lester justified it with a quick, 1-2-3 ninth that ended in a strikeout.
  • Lester’s ERA/FIP/xFIP dropped to 3.38/2.96/3.12 with the effort, 25th/13th/11th in baseball. The last one is one spot better than Gerrit Cole.
  • And, if you missed it last night, Jon Lester picked a runner off. It seems a silly thing to dwell upon, but it could very well be a huge deal going forward. Starling Marte tried to do what I’ve wondered why players hadn’t tried before: just go. As soon as you see any kind of movement whatsoever, just go. Marte probably would have been better off putting his head down and running, rather than trying to bait a throw from Lester once he stepped off the rubber. Maybe that would have generated a more erratic throw. As it stood, Lester stepped off at the right time, took a step, made a nice toss to Anthony Rizzo, and the play went from there. It’s not a killer move or anything like that, and Lester will still be among the most susceptible pitchers to stolen bases. But he showed that it’s not going to be a free base every time. And, hey, you never know:

  • If you’re ready to read about the pitching struggles in the first game of the doubleheader, you can check out this ESPN piece.
  • I really love reading/hearing Scott Boras do his thing, even as I frequently shake my head and smile. He does his job. The latest is this from Patrick Mooney, where Boras goes into pitcher value – at least he doesn’t hang his hat on the “pitcher win” stat – and tap-dances all over the place.

  • Alex Rios hit a homer last night for the Royals, and it was followed by fireworks. Totally normal. Except the game was in Cleveland. Oops.
  • Dan Haren’s fastball might be lacking, but his sense of humor is not:

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