Not Sweating the Cardinals in Short Shorts and Other Bullets

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Not Sweating the Cardinals in Short Shorts and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

mike matheny cardinalsMostly for my own sanity, I had to check the Cubs’ playoff odds and divisional odds this morning after that sweep, just so that I could know that the Cubs’ 9.5-game lead in the Central still means something. Sure enough, FanGraphs has the Cubs at 97.5% to win the division and 99.7% to make the playoffs. BP is at a nearly identical 97.5% and 99.5%, respectively.

I’m still fairly annoyed that the Cubs were swept at home by the Cardinals, especially when winning two of three or, God willing, a sweep in the other direction could have been the nail in the Cardinals’ divisional coffin. Now they still have hope. About 2.5% hope, but still. Hope.

I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be, though – just exciting enough to keep us on our toes, but not quite tense enough to make us sweat.

You’re not sweating, right? Right … ?

  • The Cubs were playing so well coming into the Cardinals’ series that it was easy to yada-yada over it, but not having Dexter Fowler right now is definitely going to sting. I’m not saying his absence is why the Cubs lost those games or anything like that (Chris Coghlan batted very well, Albert Almora and Matt Szczur played excellent defense, etc.), but, even though he hadn’t been as hot as he was in April and May, that’s still a huge player to lose for any stretch.
  • Your tiniest of silver linings from that Cardinals series is probably, because of the way the games played out, Joe Maddon got a chance to use all of Gerardo Concepcion, Carl Edwards Jr., and Spencer Patton for more than an inning apiece. We talked about the trio of new relievers yesterday. Getting looks at them, seeing how they can handle the moment, and determining if they can be a fit for the bullpen if and/when it goes back down to seven pitchers from eight and if/when Adam Warren and Clayton Richard are ready to return is really important. The sample size will be tiny, so it’s not going to be about the data so much as how they look.
  • Speaking of which, Justin Grimm is not looking so good these days, and the results are matching how it looks. To be sure, there’s some bad luck in his results – .324 BABIP, 66.9% LOB, 17.4% HR/FB are all worse than where he was last year, and are not necessarily entirely within his control – but there’s no ignoring that the command is not as strong, the stuff is not as crisp, he’s getting hit much harder, the fastball velocity is down a tick, and he’s missing far fewer bats. There are legitimate issues here. The good news is that, in the last couple years, Grimm has gone through rough stretches and then suddenly figured something out – whatever it was at the time – and then became completely dominant. He has that within him, assuming he’s otherwise feeling good. Hopefully he and the Cubs can figure it out, because without him, the bullpen situation gets all the more dicey.
  • It sounds like Miguel Montero (knee) avoided an injury yesterday, and Anthony Rizzo (back) could sit tonight against a lefty, but is not necessarily “injured” in the terror-inducing sense of the word.
  • The deal of the day at Amazon includes a bunch of small electronic gadget stuff, which I happen to love. The idea of a tiny speaker, for example ($14.99 instead of $49.99) is just neat to me.
  • Something very nice:

  • How about Kyle Hendricks, eh? Is that a fluke, or is he simply that good at commanding his pitches and keeping batters off-balance? Since he’s been doing it for a relatively long time now, I’m thinking it’s probably the latter.
  • Quick: what’s the record for solo home runs in a game, where the only runs that scored in that game were all solo home runs? I probably would have guessed five or so, and I actually would have been right … until the Rockies and Marlins blew that record away.
  • The Cubs did their best to shake off yesterday’s sweep-inducing loss by getting into their next theme for the road trip that starts today. It’s the “Who wears short shorts? Anthony wears short shorts” trip:

  • Whoa. Last picture, zoom to the right. Dexter Fowler is cut up!
  • If you check my Snapchat (bnbrett) within the next few hours, you can see my dancing homage to the short shorts trip. How could you not want to see that?

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.