Random reminder: if you’re going to be watching the Wild Card Game in Wrigleyville, come to Mullen’s on Clark to watch with me and other BN’ers. Don’t try to handle the stress on your own without a support group. If the game is at Wrigley, as is still possible heading into today, we’ll cross that bridge then. Otherwise, make your plans to be at Mullen’s, and to come early if you’re able.
- Among the many topics for the offseason when we’re looking back at how 2015 played out: was Kyle Hendricks actually better in 2015 than in 2014? It might seem like a crazy discussion for a guy whose ERA this year was a run and a half higher, but when we dig in, we’re going to find that he was a more dominating pitcher. Consider this: Hendricks’ K rate jumped from 14.6% last year to 22.6% this year, placing him 16th best in the NL, one spot behind Zack Greinke. Hendricks’ FIP was basically flat year to year, and the only differences were on how many balls in play found holes, how many runners were not stranded, and how many fly balls left the park. Those are things that are not always within the pitcher’s control. I’m pretty sure Hendricks, who finished with 180 innings pitched over 32 starts, was better this year, even in spite of being exposed to many more teams for a second and third time.
- As for today’s game and the chance at home field in the Wild Card, Joe Maddon says he’ll definitely be playing to win, but he’s less concerned with the advantage of home field than others might be (Cubs.com). To Maddon, it’s mostly about the fans, and giving them the opportunity for that home game.
- That game, by the way, will in fact be started by Gerrit Cole, the Pirates announced. No surprise there, but for those of you who were secretly terrified of Francisco Liriano, never fear. To those of you who recognize that Cole is damn good, too, well … it’s the playoffs. They’re all good.
- Addison Russell, who came in for love around here on Friday, is really coming into his own (ESPN).
- More praise for Jake Arrieta from the guys who know him best, and why they believe he’ll be just fine going forward despite the heavy workload (CSN).
- Max Scherzer threw another no-hitter last night, striking out 17 Mets in the process, and allowing only one baserunner … on throwing error by a player who was not Scherzer. It’s kind of silly that the start won’t be held up as in the “perfect game” tier, since it wasn’t, even though it was better than most other perfect games in history. That’s two no-hitters for Scherzer on the season, and the other one, you may recall, was only not a perfect game because of a lean-in HBP with two outs in the 9th inning.
- Jason Motte is still trying to work his way back in Arizona, hoping to be available to the Cubs if they make it past the Wild Card Game (CSN). I think that’s great, and I wish him the best, but I do question how you could trust a guy coming off a shoulder injury in the heat of a playoff game over a group of guys who’ve been pitching relatively well for the past month.