Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jon lester cubs featureThe Chicago Cubs won the opening game of the NLDS last night, and I was there at a bar to watch it all with friends and BN’ers. I was also there at a bar to watch the Dodgers/Nationals game that preceded it. And the Indians/Red Sox game that preceded that one. And the Rangers/Blue Jays game that preceded that one.

That is to say, I had a wonderfully full day of baseball yesterday, and thus, my start to this day has been, eh hem, slower than usual. I’ll be heading to tonight’s game with Michael, so there’s plenty more excellent baseball in my future.

  • Cy Young voting is concluded before the playoffs begin, so last night’s game won’t impact things, but boy did those two starters pitch like Cy Young candidates. Outside of the home run he gave up on a mistake pitch, Cueto was nearly perfect, keeping Cubs hitters off balance, utilizing all of his stuff, and hitting hit spots repeatedly. On the night, Cueto allowed just 3 hits, gave up NO walks, and struck out 10 Cubs batters in 8 innings of work. That’s not a game you’re supposed to lose.
  • … but you might if the guy on the other side of the bump goes eight scoreless innings of his own. Jon Lester allowed five hits and struck out only five, but he also walked no one. That’s right: there were NO WALKS last night. Not one. And, contrary to what I was thinking live, it was not because of a huge strike zone. Each pitcher got a couple calls outside the zone, but, for the most part, it was simply a matter of them attacking the zone and hitting their spots.

  • The win was, of course, huge for the Cubs, as all wins in a short series are. The Cubs were something in the range of a 55-65% favorite in the NLDS before last night’s game, but now, just one win later, that’s up to close to 75% at FanGraphs, and up to 81% at FiveThirtyEight.
  • I loved the Pedro Strop part of the Javy Baez homer from last night – the veteran reliever was apparently telling Baez, just before his at bat in the 8th inning, that he needed to take charge of the game, and that Strop believed he was going to do it (FoxSports).
  • About that homer, by the way, if your instinct is to complain about the basket or about how Baez visibly enjoyed the homer even though it only barely got out, Javy has a response:

  • The difference in defensive efficiency this year between the first place Cubs and the second place Blue Jays is as great as the difference between the Blue Jays and the 27th PLACE TEAM. That article, from Sam Miller (now of ESPN), looks at a variety of ways the Cubs are impressive, from Anthony Rizzo’s footwork to Javy Baez’s tags to the way the Cubs are so successful despite shifting much less often than the average team.
  • Start times for the rest of the divisional series have been announced, and here’s hoping you like late games, because that’s all it’ll be the rest of the way for the Cubs and Giants.

  • It’ll be former friend Jeff Samardzija facing the Cubs tonight. He finally makes a playoff start at Wrigley Field.
  • A multi-port charging station on sale at Amazon if you and your family are always fighting for the plug.

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