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The Biggest Lead of the Year for the Cubs, Cleanup Questions, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

A persistent lack of sleep from night games and the grind of the season probably isn’t helping, but I’m just having one of those down days. We all have them, and I think giving voice to it here helps me create a little distance from it, and ultimately feel better sooner. So, thanks. That’s all.


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  • With their win last night, and a loss by the Cardinals, the Cubs now have a 5.0-game lead in the NL Central, their largest of the season. It’s been a winding road to get there, but I suppose it’s ideal to have your largest lead of the season as mid-September approaches. As I mentioned this morning in the Scoreboard Watching, the Cubs’ chances to win the NL Central are now up over 95%, and it’s not hard to see why when you simply look at the number of games remaining and the distance the Cardinals and Brewers need to cover.
  • Consider, with just 22 games left to play, even if the Cubs went 10-12, the Cardinals and/or Brewers would need to go 15-7 just to tie the Cubs. The head-to-head match-ups remaining will offer more of a chance for the second place teams to come back, but it’s a long shot.
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
  • And that starts tonight for the Brewers, who come to Wrigley Field for the first regular season night game ever at the park. If you decide to go, check out the tickets at our partner StubHub:

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  • Jon Lester isn’t sure if it was rust early on last night, but he did make it through some struggles, and finish up with an overall very good night (Cubs.com).
  • In a moment of frustration early in last night’s game, I tweeted about Ben Zobrist as a cleanup hitter this year. I understand the hope for a rebound – he’s always been a good hitter! – but it’s September, and he has been the Cubs’ worst hitter this year (that’s not a hyperbolic screed, I’m just going by his 84 wRC+, tied with Jason Heyward). At some point, you have to accept what’s right in front of you, play for today, and reset next year. Of course, Zobrist promptly doubled after I tweeted about that.

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  • The thing is, though, even in a charitable look at Zobrist’s numbers since only August 1 (he dealt with a wrist injury earlier in the year, which dragged his numbers down), they aren’t that good: .269/.353/.404, 101 wRC+. Nearly league average. It’s hard to see him getting so many plate appearances at the top of the order, or backing up Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Of course, that’s mostly been because Willson Contreras has been out, and that might not last too much longer …
  • Contreras got his Carolina League Playoff season underway last night, catching four innings and taking three plate appearances (strikeout, pop out, hit by pitch). As long as he feels good, he’ll get some more at bats today, and then the Cubs will decide on a plan for the weekend. It’s *possible* he could be back on Saturday.
  • Random fun fact:

  • Random fun memory:

  • This is fantastic, and I can’t wait to see:

  • #PuigYourBatFlip:


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Brett Taylor

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