Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

The NL Wild Card Game is tonight, and it would probably be asking too much for it to live up to a killer AL installation last night, but with Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner going, it should be really good. And if they want to take that baby to the 20th inning, that would be fine by me.

  • The Cubs played an intrasquad “game” yesterday at Wrigley Field, though it was almost entirely about getting in some work for the pitchers who haven’t gone in a while and won’t be going for a while. By all accounts, it was fine. Which, well, is the best you can hope for when the Cubs play the Cubs. You don’t want to see the Cubs getting dominated by the Cubs, or the Cubs embarrassing themselves against the Cubs or, worst of all, the Cubs injuring the Cubs.

  • You can read about the game here, and it’s not as though it was completely unserious, but the players had some fun:

  • Patrick Mooney drops the extremely well-timed piece on the Cubs’ plans to aggressively use Aroldis Chapman in the playoffs, which comes shortly after the Orioles inexplicably did not use Zach Britton last night. That won’t be happening to the Cubs. With off-days built in, and the offseason looming, there is no reason to save any bullets in the highest leverage moments of the highest leverage games of the year. The Cubs got a guy like Chapman precisely because of the disproportionate impact he can have in the playoffs, and they’ll make sure he’s given an opportunity to impact.

  • Theo Epstein offered additional comments on the trade for Chapman and his conduct since then (“Chapman’s been wonderful as a Cub. He’s fit in great in the clubhouse. The behavior’s been exactly what you had asked for since he’s been here …. Love having him as part of this team.”), which still leaves many fans with mixed emotions as they dream on the end of a World Series run, with the Cubs’ catcher rushing out to hug Chapman as the flashbulbs pop and the image is seared into our minds. For my part, I made no secret that I struggled with how to at once be fair to a player who was not charged with a criminal act (we will never truly know what happened), but who was suspended under MLB’s domestic violence program (we will never truly know what didn’t happen). At best, as we sit here today on the precipice of the playoffs, all we can say is that Chapman has conducted himself well with the Cubs, has not been a distraction, and has done the on-field job for which the Cubs paid a substantial price in trade. When he takes the ball in the playoffs, I will of course be hoping he blows a fastball by the batter.
  • A bit at FanGraphs on the addition of Mike Montgomery to the Cubs’ pitching corps, how his pitch mix has been tweaked a bit, and how he might help the Cubs in the playoffs.
  • I loved Michael’s statistical look at Kyle Hendricks yesterday, and I also love this more human-and-scouting-sided look from Michael Baumann at The Ringer.
  • Over at Amazon: I’m not sure I’m going to buy it, but I love these kinds of in-your-hands puzzles. I never did figure out the official way to solve a Rubik’s Cube, but I still always play with one when I see it lying on someone’s coffee table. (Also: #Cubes)

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