Dear NL Central, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? And Other Bullets

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Dear NL Central, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? And Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs
[Ah, it’s been one of those days where I start putting the Bullets together at 7am … and I’m not able to complete them until the early afternoon. The latest in the Montero-Arrieta-not-good-comments saga, if you missed it, was the response from Anthony Rizzo earlier this morning. Now I’m gonna hurry and get these Bullets out the door, because there’s more to get to. UPDATE: And as soon as I do, Miguel Montero is gonna be DFA’d and Victor Caratini is coming up.]

The Cubs are just a game out of first place in the NL Central. How exactly did that happen? It wasn’t even 10 days ago that the Cubs were 2.5 games out, and they’ve not been a blowout 10 days for the Cubs, either.

God bless the 2017 NL Central.

In spite of everything, I still think you’d have to bet on the Cubs to win the division. Lulz.

  • That was a rough one last night for Jake Arrieta after a nice start in Miami. He didn’t get much help from his defense (or from the many stolen bases he and Miguel Montero allowed), and for what it’s worth, the strike zone was absolutely brutal yesterday, especially for Arrieta. Given that, and the fact that there were so many infield hits, I’m not really sure he was quite as terrible as his line says. Worse, because every inning was a grind, he wore down very quickly (you can see it in his velocity chart), making things even more difficult.
  • For his part, Arrieta says he knows he can pitch at Max Scherzer’s level, but his consistency hasn’t been there. After last night’s loss, he said, “It’s been up and down. I’ve had a couple good ones, a bad one, a couple good ones, a bad one, so I would obviously like to be more consistent throughout. I just haven’t been able to do that the way that I would like. I’ll beat myself up tonight and put in some work and be better next time out. That’s kind of the philosophy, regardless of the situation or the results. Just try and learn as best I can and come out and do better next time.” (CSN).
  • At this point, it’s not just a lack of consistency holding Arrieta back. It’s also a lack of the really dominant, deep outings. It would be one thing if he were having clunkers last night mixed in with mostly fantastic 7 and 8-inning outings. Instead, he’s had the clunkers mixed in with so-so 5 and 6-inning outings. Arrieta has gone more than six innings and allowed fewer than three runs just once all season (last time out in Miami). Heck, just 7 of his 16 starts have even been quality starts. That’s why he stands right now with a 4.67 ERA and a 4.17 FIP on the season. I don’t doubt that he still has the talent to be a lot better than that, he just hasn’t shown it this season. And, if the Cubs are really going to make another run, they’ll need him to.
  • Miguel Montero offered his thoughts on the stolen bases – and Arrieta’s responsibility for them – earlier, if you missed the surprisingly pointed quotes.
  • This is neat, though obviously you’d prefer it came in a better performance:

  • The Cubs – or rather, some Cubs – are going to the White House for a semi-impromptu second visit today, after formally visiting as reigning champions back in January. The Ricketts are in town, and Joe Maddon will be going. For players, the trip is optional ( Nobody was going to say anything incendiary in either direction (thank jeebus), but you can read their rationale for going or not going here at the Sun-Times. Most have good reasons – again, keeping in mind that some will want to go because it’s just a cool experience, and others may not want to go because they already did it – and I especially liked Carl Edwards Jr.’s reason for not attending: “I’m trying to go see like the dinosaur museums.”
  • For his part, Maddon emphasized that he simply loves the United States, and out of respect for the office, the building, and the Ricketts Family, he’s happy to go (CSN). Given the clubhouse issues popping up today, it’s gonna be a weird day for a visit.
  • Meanwhile, elsewhere in Washington:

Hey, it's Tom Ricketts and Ted Cruz! Or is it Ted Cruz and Tom Ricketts?

Posted by Bleacher Nation on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

  • Kyle Schwarber had another couple singles last night for the Iowa Cubs.
  • Justin Grimm has become more attack-oriented, he says, after his time down in Iowa (Tribune). In his 13.0 innings since being called back up, Grimm has posted a 0.69 ERA, a 1.83 FIP, and a 2.62 xFIP. His first pitch strike rate in that span is 68.2%. Before his demotion, it was just 56.3%.
  • Today in horrifying statistics:

  • The Cubs do good:

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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.