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Lackey Was Good Again, the Bats Were Soft Again, Otani Speculation, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

This weekend is nuts. Family pictures, soccer, community event, The Wife is hosting a different event, a visit to see The Grandparents, the Bears kick off their first season since we’ve been covering them at TYL … mercy.


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But we’re not preparing for, or evacuating from, a hurricane. So I have no complaints, only gratitude. Thoughts with those in Florida, and throughout the Caribbean. Scary stuff, and you reach a point where there’s little you can say that hasn’t been said. I hope everything goes as well as it possibly can for as many people as possible.

On to baseball …

  • John Lackey looked really good last night, with the exception being the oops pitch he made to Ryan Braun, which yielded the only runs in the game. It was another good second-half start for Lackey, who has posted a 3.65 ERA in 10 starts since he came back from the disabled list (remember that?) with a foot issue.
  • Lackey says he feels physically really good, especially for this point in the season (Cubs.com), which will be great for the Cubs down the stretch, and if necessary, in the postseason. The assumption remains that the four postseason starters will be Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks, but the two lefties have had shaky moments, Hendricks missed a lot of time with his hand injury, and Arrieta is currently on the shelf with a mild hamstring strain. It’s not at all inconceivable that Lackey could have to make a postseason start, or perhaps enter a game very early to eat up several middle innings. As I sit here today, I don’t feel horrible about that fact.

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  • As noted in this ESPN writeup of the game, Ben Zobrist striking out looking twice in a game is a true rarity – but he’s been striking out looking far more often this year than last: “According to ESPN Stats & Information, Zobrist has struck out looking 25 times in 373 at-bats this year. Last season, he struck out looking 30 times in 573 at-bats.” Of particular concern last night, the pitch Zobrist took – and seemed upset by – in the 3rd inning at bat against Jimmy Nelson was almost exactly down the pipe. I can understand taking a meatball on 3-1 (which he did) because maybe you were looking for something else. But on 3-2, to get a fastball down the middle and take it with two runners on … that’s a weird one.

  • Willson Contreras could be back as soon as this weekend, which would give the Cubs a different look in the middle of the order.
  • The Cubs have scored just 13 runs in their last 6 games … and 8 of those 13 runs came in a single game against the Pirates. Yikes.

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  • The Brewers have pissed and moaned about two Cubs game schedule change things this year (last night’s and the non-rainout-rainout), and have now won both of those moved games. They’ve discovered a new market inefficiency. Expect a statement any moment now complaining about the sun being too sunny at Wrigley Field today and it is the Cubs’ fault.
  • There are currently get-in-the-door tickets for the game today at under $40 at StubHub. I see bleachers for just under $60 at the moment, too. A meaningful Saturday game in September? Nice.
  • Jimmy Nelson left the game after five innings last night because of a sore shoulder caused by a dive into first base. He was able to pitch a half inning after the injury, and it’s not considered serious. So, I am not sorry for my quip, because it was perfect (and also I made it before he departed):

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  • Very interesting: the Yankees have signed a Dominican prospect for $1 million. In the new hard-capped IFA era, that means that’s $1 million they cannot spend on Shohei Otani if he comes over this winter – and the pools available for him were already in the (high end) $6 to $8 million range, which means losing $1 million of space is significant. They also already signed another prospect for $1.5 million in this class. Do the Yankees know something about Otani’s plans? I’m just reading tea leaves. I’ll also point out that in the early 2018-19 reports (that’s next year’s class, when the Cubs are out of the penalty box), the Cubs haven’t been publicly attached to any of the top ranked prospects. Holding out hope for Otani next year? Again: I know nothing. I’m just pointing these things out.
  • Jeimer Candelario started a really nice triple play last night for the Tigers, and I make a sideways face:

  • In less sideways face-y ways, this was fun and nuts and kind of embarrassing:


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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.