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Duensing is One of the Best Relievers in the NL, Baez is Fast, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

With the Brewers losing yesterday and each of the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates winning, the NL Central race is as cloudy as ever, with the Cubs holding a 1.5-game advantage on the Brewers, but the Cardinals (now at .500) just two games behind the Brewers, and the Pirates just a game behind the Cardinals. Based on talent, the only team of the four I can see absolutely running away from the pack is the Cubs. If that doesn’t happen, it’s going to remain a jumbled mess well into September.


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  • I doubt he’s sneaking up on anyone at this point, given recent bullpen bumps and how he never seems to be involved in said bumps, but good catch by Mark Gonzales on lefty Brian Duensing: he’s working on a 16.1 inning scoreless streak. Duensing, an inspired free agent signing by the front office after he worked through some issues last year with the Orioles, now has a 2.28 ERA on the year, to go with a superb 27.8% K rate and 5.2% BB rate. That ERA not only leads the Cubs’ bullpen, but it’s also the 14th best mark in the entire National League.
  • Fun fact: immediately after Duensing in the NL is Wade Davis, and then Pedro Strop and Mike Montgomery show up a couple spots later. So, although the Cubs don’t have a reliever in the top 13 in ERA in the the NL, they have four of the top 19.
  • Carl Edwards Jr. was long the guy at the top of the ERA pack for the Cubs, but a month’s worth of struggles have pushed him out of that picture. But it doesn’t sound like he’s out of the picture in the pen, because both he and Joe Maddon remain confident that the good times will come again (ESPN). It is nothing but a slump, they believe, and Edwards plans to just keep attacking, without trying to be too fine. Obviously that’s what you want from a guy with his stuff and a walk rate getting to unsustainably high levels. But desire and execution are different things.

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  • I don’t know how many of these they have to track, but Javy Baez’s home to home speed of 16.11 seconds was the fastest for the Cubs in the three years of Statcast (Cubs.com). For reference, Anthony Rizzo’s inside-the-parker last year was 17.49 seconds.
(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
  • Speaking of Rizzo:

  • And speaking of Baez’s homer, it extended a six-game hitting streak, and, given his recent hotness in the second half, Baez has his slash line up to .268/.311/.493 (which is somehow only a 98 wRC+, but I guess that’s what the low OBP does to you – still, pretty great for a versatile middle infielder).
  • The new guys:

  • Over at TYL, the Bears’ first new depth chart is out. Luis was at training camp yesterday, which yielded a lot of great stuff you can see here at the TYL Twitter. Also, Jay Cutler was introduced with the Dolphins, and I couldn’t help myself:

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.