For Starters, Lester’s Efficiency Calms Us All
I love the randomness of Twitter. The breaking news from Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal is nice and addicting. The obscure facts that surface, though, are the great free agents of knowledge I love to acquire about the Chicago Cubs.
Yesterday, my favorite was a tweet that read, “On this date 20 years ago, Greg Maddux threw a 76-pitch complete game.” It seems that kind of pitching is a lost art … so, especially with the way the Cubs pitching performed in the first half of the season, it was great to watch pitching dominate again between Adam Wainwright and Jon Lester.
Lester took perfection into the sixth inning before yielding a two-out single to – go figure – Wainwright, who only allowed two hits himself at that point in the ballgame. Lester continued an impressive stretch of Cubs starting pitching performances in the second half of the season by throwing 8 strong innings in a 3-2 win over the Cardinals on Saturday.
Lester looked last-year dominant, striking out 10 and only needed 97 pitches to do it. A tip of the cap to him, too, pitching in honor of his recently-passed uncle.
Now back to Maddux’s 76-pitch masterpiece 20 years ago. It was weird to see a Cubs starter pitching in the eighth inning, let alone in a conservative game pitch-count-wise. With the Cubs 7-1 to begin the second half, Cubs fans are starting to allow their appetites to come back with cautious optimism related to the rotation.
This leads to the next question that we all need to ponder – is what the Cubs have in terms of starting pitching enough to a second parade down Michigan Avenue? I believe they do – particularly with a rested Kyle Hendricks and the addition Quintana. I look at the rest of the year like I did when the Cubs were down 3-1 last year in the World Series.
The Cubs have vets Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta going. I like those odds, especially now that they are only 1 game back in the division. Which leads to the next rumor …
Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register said that Rangers had scouts at the Iowa Cubs game (which is normal). Similar to Ryan Huff’s piece on Darvish yesterday, hand me the petition to sign because I do not want him. It sounds like the Rangers think they can deal Darvish and then sign him back next year, all while looting a team of solid prospects (such as Jeimer Candelario, Mark Zagunis or Victor Caratini).
No thanks. I really think that with the addition of Quintana, the Cubs should make pitching moves elsewhere. Which leads to the next rumor …
The Cubs Bullpen
A.J. Ramos or Zach Britton. Yes, please. Give the Cubs someone to single-handedly stabilize the eighth inning. I truly do believe (and have always believed) Carl Edwards Jr. should be the eighth-inning guy, but if the Cubs can land someone like Ramos or Britton or Justin Wilson or Brad Hand, that could bump Edwards to the seventh inning and take Hector Rondon or Justin Grimm out of the picture.
It’s all about shortening games. The Yankees are going to try to always get to David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman in the seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively. I would, too. I hope the Cubs can rival a trio like that, but it will likely cost them.
Two walks by Wade Davis likely made people uncomfortable on Saturday before closing out his 19th save. I’d feel more secure if we had better pieces around Davis. I think the Cubs will make a move here, likely better than the Joe Smith bullpen move they pulled the trigger on last year at the deadline. I think it may be a bigger name, too. How about a package with Wilson and Alex Avila coming to Wrigley?
Brewers Look a Little Drunk
The Brewers were leading 8-1 on Saturday. Then the Phillies tied the game at 8-8 before the Brewers pulled it out, 9-8. Sounds like the Cubs first game off break against the Orioles. Though, for Milwaukee, this was more of showing off a continued struggle to survive that has been obvious the past 8 games.
The Brew Crew are likely to be active in trade talks over the next week, for a starting pitcher and a veteran bat (like Ian Kinsler). They need to do something to mix it up. You can’t help but think Cinderella’s shoes have been returned to DSW.
I truly think it will be Cubs/Pirates down the stretch, and I like the Cubs’ odds in that one. For laughs, check out the hashtag, #BrewersLose.
The Cubs are going for their third straight series win with a Sunday night victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley. Quintana vs. Michael Wacha – sign me up for this one. I can’t wait for this rubber match.
Quintana’s 12-K Cubs debut made every fan sign off on the trade after some skepticism, and Wacha has been untouchable in his last four starts. Should be a memorable one.
First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WSCR Radio 670 The Score
Triple A – Iowa Cubs 5, Oklahoma City Dodgers 1
SP – Jen-Ho Tseng W (3-0), 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)
RF – Mark Zagunis 3-4, R
C – Taylor Davis 2-4, 2B, RBI
LF – Jemile Weeks 1-5, R, HR, RBI
PH – Ozzie Martinez 1-1, R, HR, RBI
Double A – Tennessee Smokies and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Rained Out Saturday – Doubleheader Scheduled Today
Single A Advanced – Myrtle Beach Pelicans 2, Down East Wood Ducks 0
SP – Michael Rucker W (3-2), 5 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K
DH – Zack Short 1-3, RBI
RF – Robert Garcia 2-3
LF – Eddy Martinez 1-4, 2B
Single A – Beloit Snappers 6, South Bend Cubs 3
SP – Carson Sands L (0-2), 2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 0 K
3B – Isaac Paredes 1-4, 2B
RF – Chris Pieters 1-3, 2B, 2 R
LF – Luis Ayala 1-3, RBI