Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

rob zastryzny cubsIt’s overcast. A little light sprinkle. It’s quiet. There is absolutely no indication outside that today will soon erupt into a madhouse of emotion and excitement.

The Cubs haven’t won an NLCS game in 13 years. Since, well, you know.

But it’s coming …

  • It’s no secret at this point, and they’ve managed to win a whole lot of games despite it, but boy are the Dodgers susceptible to lefties this year. The Dodgers *AS A TEAM* batted just .213/.290/.332 (72 wRC+) against lefties in the regular season. And it’s not just because of lefties like Corey Seager, Chase Utley, Joc Pederson, and Adrian Gonzalez – even Justin Turner, the best righty bat on the team, has a dramatic reverse platoon split. Nice that Jon Lester gets the ball tonight, then again in the middle of the series, and then possibly out of the bullpen at the end of the series if necessary. (Though that Aroldis Chapman guy exists, so … )

  • Mark Gonzales notes that the Cubs may well look to add an extra lefty to the roster today for the NLCS, given the Dodgers’ heavy reliance on lefties in their lineup (Tribune). It might be youngster Rob Zastryzny, whom you may recall dominated those lefties in relief of Jason Hammel earlier this year. Although he doesn’t have any playoff experience or even much big league experience, Zastryzny seems to have the kind of constitution not to be overwhelmed by the pressure of the playoffs. We’ll see if he makes the cut later today, and, if so, how the Cubs shuffle the rest of the roster.
  • Ken Rosenthal writes about the 2011 draft – discussed this morning in the Playoff Miscellany, as a matter of fact – and how the Cubs wound up with Javy Baez. You may have heard portions of the story before, but it’s a great read to bring it all together (and a reminder at just how imprecise and difficult drafting can be, even at the top of the draft (oh, and about how important player development is – the range of possible outcomes for these talented youngsters can be so wide (oh, and about how valuable it is in terms of player development to have a manager like Joe Maddon at the helm right now))).
  • If you’re going to be out and about in Wrigleyville today, Michael and I will be setting up shop at Yak-Zies on Clark again, across from Wrigley Field. That’s where we’ll be watching tonight’s game, probably doing lots of jumping, shouting, cursing, crying, and hopefully smiling.
  • Assessments of Tim Tebow in the Arizona Fall League so far have been … harsh. Also harsh in the AFL? How hard Eloy Jimenez is hitting the ball. Not only did he hit one like Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday, he homered yesterday (and he says he didn’t get all of it).

  • Occurred to me randomly this morning:

  • Think about how much we heard that Addison Russell probably couldn’t stick at shortstop. Now he’s an absolute stud there. Javy Baez almost never came in for mention at all on the defensive side, and now he’s elite at multiple positions. And everyone except the managers in the Pacific Coast League said Kris Bryant could not play third base in the big leagues, and now he’s above average there and in left field. These are world class caliber athletes, yes, but I have no doubt the Cubs’ development staff deserves a lot of credit for getting these guys into a position where they could break out defensively. Just like on offense, players can develop and improve and break out on defense.
  • Are you feeling tense and nervous today? Well, watch Pedro Strop pranking Jorge Soler and then laughing the most beautiful laugh you’ve ever heard. It will make you feel better for a few minutes, guaranteed.

META: The Chicago Tribune has a feature on me and BN, for which I’ve received too many kind words to properly thank everyone. Primarily, I just want to shout aloud that I could never have turned BN into a full-time job without The Wife’s support (and continuing support), and BN would not be where it is today without the efforts of Luke, Luis, and Michael. Most importantly, this place doesn’t work without the readers. You don’t just provide the eyeballs that generate the revenue that keeps us in business (hey, don’t block ads on sites you love!), but you provide encouragement and energy in ways you probably don’t even realize. I am incredibly blessed – an overused word, to be sure, but one that is wholly apt here – to be doing something I love so much, with people I love, for people I love.

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