MVP – Junior Lake (.392 WPA)
We’re Going Streaking – The season has been filled with many things to be proud of. In fact, I’ve been reminded each time I pull up the Cubs media notes that we’ve not won a series since September 9-11, 2013 when we beat the Reds. That’s a streak of 14 straight series without a series win. That ended on Saturday. In addition, the Cubs now sport a shiny new three game win streak.
Jake, Where Have You Been All My Life? – We’ve suffered through watching awful outings from Carlos Villanueva so far this year due to a late injury in spring training to Jake Arrieta. On Saturday he made his return to the rotation and looked great doing it. Keep in mind when looking at the box score that he was probably on a bit of a pitch count, as usually is the case when a guy returns from the DL. In those 5+ innings, he showed why he is the clear choice over Villanueva for that spot in the rotation and why he has the makings of a guy who can be in the rotation for this team and we continue to try to rebuild. While he did get into a couple minor jams, he was always able to wiggle himself out. His stuff was really good. Just watch the first at bat by Allen Craig and you’ll see what I mean. Three straight strikes, including the last one to get him looking. I look forward to his next start.
Meet Your New Closer? – It appears that, for now, Hector Rondon, has taken the closers job. I’m a Pedro Strop guy, myself, but I see what Rondon brings to the table and would much rather see him in the role over Jose Veras who is working to get back from the DL. It will be interesting to see what Veras has once he returns. I am hopeful that the time off will allow him to clear his head of the rough start, get a couple innings in rehab down in Iowa and have some success so he can be a useful cog in this bullpen wheel.
Where’s My Triple? – Lake played like a star on Saturday, winning the game MVP. As you can see, his play took the Cubs from a 50% odds to win the game at the start to 89.2%. That was due to the fact that he was just a triple shy of the cycle. I like what Lake can bring to the table, and I hope he continues to develop, but for now we need to celebrate this success and remember who he is….a semi-regular starter.
Roster Moves – The Cubs recalled Arrieta before the game, optioning Zac Rosscup to AAA. In addition, Ryan Sweeney was placed on the DL after Friday’s injury and Chris Coghlin was recalled from Iowa. The question was asked “Why Coghlin?” The answer is actually quite simple. Despite his semi-poor performance at the plate so far in the minors, he is essentially the only OF available on the 40 man roster. Jorge Soler is not going to get the call and neither is Matt Szczur, so that simply leaves Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, who are trying hard to do their best impression of a pitcher when they come to the plate. It’s essentially Coghlin by default if you look for straight OF. However, another name that was a bit intriguing to me was Logan Watkins. He’s been seeing time in the OF this year in an effort to increase his value from a utility standpoint. My guess is that he was looked over because he needs to get the time on an everyday basis to continue to learn the position, but he’s interesting should someone else go down.
What’s On Tap?
The Cubs try for the series sweep on Sunday Night Baseball. That would be the perfect way to end the weekend and look toward the series with the White Sox. Your pitching matchup is below.