The Best Team in the National League and Other Bullets

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The Best Team in the National League and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

chicago cubs logo featureThis weekend is my 10-year college reunion (AH! AGING!), so The Wife and I will be showing old acquaintances how totally still well we’re doing but-it’s-no-big-deal-we’re-casual-have-you-seen-our-kids-yeah-they’re-pretty-amazing-oh-you-have-kids-too-that’s-swell-we-have-to-go. You should see normal coverage here today (actually, more than usual for a Saturday), though I can tell you in advance that tonight’s EBS is likely to be delayed.

  • If I told you that the Chicago Cubs had the best record in the National League over the past week, you’d probably say, whatever, that’s just six games. If I said two weeks, you’d probably throw that out, too. The Cubs don’t have the best record over those stretches, to my knowledge. But they do have the best record in the National League over the last 31(!) games. In a season of incredible statistics, that one might take the cake. I knew the Cubs had been playing well, but I’m pleasantly blown away. Then again, it’s not like the Cubs are 25-6 or even 21-10. They’re 18-13. That’s a very good record, but it’s a .581 winning percentage. Not all that amazing for a month-long stretch. I guess the fact that the Cubs are tops in the NL over that stretch says as much about the parity in baseball as it does about the Cubs’ success.
  • Still, it’s a hell of a nice run for the Cubs, and it’s no surprise, then, to hear Anthony Rizzo saying things like this after yesterday’s win ( “It’s the nicest I’ve felt about this team since I’ve been here. Everyone is kind of starting to expect to win games now. We always did, but everyone is starting to come in with that extra swagger I guess you could say.”
  • So, with some swagger and the best record in the NL over the past month, the Cubs should consider shifting gears and not selling off, right? Easy now. The team is still 9 games under .500 thanks to the ugly (unlucky?) start, and behind every team in the NL except the Padres and Diamondbacks. Absent a stretch over the next 15 days that sees the Cubs win at least 12 games, I just don’t see changing from seller to buyer – or even standing pat – being an advisable strategy. Even after this lovely stretch, the Cubs’ playoff odds at BP are just 2.4%. FanGraphs is even more grim, at just 1%.
  • You are reminded, today only, there’s free shipping on any order at the BN apparel store. Just use the coupon code “T-DAY2014″ when you checkout.
  • If you noticed that Edwin Jackson was cruising through four innings yesterday and then seemed to hit a wall in the 5th, it sounds like it was partly due to cramping in both of his calves (ESPN). Looking at Brooks, Jackson’s velocity very clearly fell off a bit in the 5th, so the cramping seems legit – he also was removed immediately after the 5th, despite being at just 85 pitches. It’s a real bummer, because a dominant outing would have really been nice for Jackson after a rough stretch.
  • Miscellaneous Starlin Castro point: his last two homers have come on breaking pitches that he waited back on. That’s all. I’m just saying he wasn’t solely feasting on fastballs for his very well-struck stuff. It’s neat. (Also: love for Castro’s rebound season from CBS’s Matt Snyder here.)
  • A bunch of big minor league performances last night, including the Kyle Hendricks gem and 3-4 Javier Baez night Luke mentioned earlier. Arismendy Alcantara added another couple doubles, Rubi Silva had a triple and a homer at AA, Dan Vogelbach had another two-hit game (including a double) at High-A, and Kyle Schwarber went 2-3 with a homer, a double, and a walk (Hulk).
  • Speaking of Baez, Carrie Muskat has a great profile on the AAA shortstop, who says he changed his approach at the plate about a month ago after a meeting with infield coordinator Jose Flores.
  • You can relax: smoked sausages are finally coming back to Wrigley Field. Vienna Beef has teamed with the Cubs to bring us the Wrigley Field Smokie.

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Author: Brett Taylor

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