The Chicago Bears are picked by most pundits to finish at or near the bottom of the NFC North, well below .500. The betting odds, by contrast, pretty much have them as an 8-8 team across the board. Me? Oh, I am a dope and think that the defense is going to be so good that they can win 9 or 10 games. I also think there’s a decent chance the leash on Mitch Trubisky is so short that Nick Foles starts 12+ games this year, which I still suspect probably does the Bears better than sticking with Mitch. I’m happy to be wrong, but I just haven’t seen anything over 3+ years to make me think it’s going to happen.
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• The nature of the game made it harder to appreciate in the moment, but Kyle Hendricks was brilliant last night – on the road! – and mostly dominated the Brewers with the exception of one bad pitch to Ryan Braun (which came after a foul pop that Kris Bryant absolutely should have caught). Hendricks:
Kyle Hendricks' line:
7 2/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. pic.twitter.com/xSZRLa3ahT
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 13, 2020
• Also: Not that you need me to tell you the Pitcher Win stat is worthless, but last night, Jason Adam’s single strikeout netted him the “win” over Kyle Hendricks’ fantastic 7.2 innings of work.
• Speaking of Adams, though, it was an important strikeout of Christian Yelich. One thing that Adam does very well is ensure that his elite-spin fastball stays up in the zone, where you want it. Much more on Adam and how the Cubs may have stolen a really great arm here.
• Craig Kimbrel looked good again last night, this time in a real save situation, yielding a couple singles to open the frame, both on good pitches. Keston Hiura just got him for a solid single, and Jedd Gyorko flipped (and broke) his bat for a little flare to the right side. It made things tense and tight, yes, but it didn’t say anything bad about Kimbrel’s performance. The save, by the way, was a historic one for Kimbrel, with a Cubs connection:
Craig Kimbrel recorded his 348th career save tonight, passing Randy Myers for 12th all-time. pic.twitter.com/jJQNibnV2w
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 13, 2020
• With only one strikeout in the inning, Kimbrel’s record streak of relief appearances with at least two strikeouts ends at 10. Still worked out, though.
• So is Kimbrel THE CLOSER again? I still think no, and think last night was just a matter of Jeremy Jeffress being down after pitching back-to-back games (ditto Rowan Wick). Kimbrel is clearly back in the late-inning circle of trust, though (as he should be), because this team is gonna need a lot of late-inning options.
• With Cameron Maybin scratched last night with gastrointestinal issues, a listed symptom of COVID, the protocols indicate he’s likely to miss another day today while separated from the team and getting additional tests. The Cubs haven’t announced anything like that – I’m just saying, that’s how these things have proceeded under the protocols. So unless there is reason to be 100% certain that Maybin’s GI issues are something else, the Cubs may play a man short again today.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 13, 2020
• This was silly, and the message was true again last night:
Brent Suter acting out what the Cubs bats look like facing Brent Suter. pic.twitter.com/rxpnRZUF3B
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 12, 2020
• I don’t know why the Cubs absolutely cannot touch Brent Suter, but he just owns them. I guess he’s been great against everyone this year, but still. It’s a long-term issue.
• With last night’s win, the Cubs’ odds to make the playoffs at FanGraphs rose to 99.6%. The Cubs are at 78.6% to win the division, and 19.9% to finish second in the division. They have only a 1.0% chance of being in the playoffs as a Wild Card team, which makes sense, because it would require BOTH of the Cardinals and Brewers to pass the Cubs, AND the Cubs to still have a great record. Those things pretty much can’t all happen.
• When my kids ask what baseball was like in the 2020 pandemic season, I will show them this picture from last night: