Celebrating an Incredible Cubs First Half, Rotation Plans, El MagOops, and Other Bullets

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Celebrating an Incredible Cubs First Half, Rotation Plans, El MagOops, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

The Family is taking a little day trip to see some animals at a wilderness sanctuary-type place, so if you need me today, I’ll be riding an emu.

  • The All-Star break is here, and the Cubs have the best record in the National League, leading the NL Central by 2.5 games. At 55-38, the Cubs’ record isn’t that far off from the incredible 53-35 pace they were posting at the All-Star break in the 2016 season (to say nothing of how dramatically far ahead of 2017 the Cubs are (43-45 at the break)). The 2016 team had to deal with the loss of Kyle Schwarber, but was otherwise remarkably healthy in the first half. This year’s team has lost Yu Darvish, Carl Edwards Jr., and Kris Bryant for long stretches, while also seeing Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Brandon Morrow spend time on the disabled list.
  • I tend to think this has quietly been an extremely impressive performance by the Cubs (and their underlying metrics suggest they should have even more wins!), who could be even better in the second half if the Cubs do what they’ve always done under Joe Maddon. It’ll require the starting pitchers to start going a little deeper in games to help ensure the bullpen is at peak effectiveness (for the second half and beyond).
  • Things turned so quickly:

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
  • The current plan is for the Cubs to open the second half – Thursday night, you’ll recall – with Kyle Hendricks against the Cardinals, and then the other four starting pitchers during the rest of the five-game series. Because it includes a doubleheader, doing so will mean the Cubs will defer the need for a sixth starter until the start of the following series against the Diamondbacks.
  • This is what it is to be El Mago – even when you boot a ball, it goes right where it needs to and becomes a double-play:

  • Joe Maddon had some very vocal beef with the strike zone yesterday, or perhaps he was just ready for his break to start a little early:

  • The zone was unusually tight yesterday at the edges, though I wasn’t sure in the moment why there was that particular build-up with Maddon. I know he was chapped by the James Norwood bases-loaded walk in relief of Jon Lester (unfortunately the PitchF/X data did not log for that one). Maddon was impressed by Norwood’s performance (again suggesting he thought the “walk” was not really a walk).
  • The Cubs’ All-Stars (and Home Run Derby participants) are off in style:

  • A blast from the past, especially enjoyable here at the All-Star break:


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Author: Brett Taylor

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