Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Three Strikes – Welcome to Pittsburgh!

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Joe is still under the weather so although I’m not able to devote as much time here as he is I can at least give us a place to chit chat each day. I know you guys will keep the conversation rolling. (Thank you for that!)

  • Strike One – The Cubs beat the Pirates last night 7-2 at PNC park in lovely Pittsburgh, PA. Jason Hammel (4-0) got the win and Gerrit Cole (2-3) took the loss in the Cubs first trip to Pittsburgh since that great Wild Card game last year! Full coverage here.
  • Strike Two – Jake Arietta was named NL Pitcher of the Month for April. Yay Jake! Details here.
  • Strike Three – Smack dab in the middle of an impressive time for him, Matt Szczur pulled a hammy. MRI results are pending. Details here.

Tonight we’ve got Jake Arietta going up against Jonathon Niese at 6:05pm CT. Enjoy your day, enjoy the game, and let’s all send up some good thoughts for Joe. Thanks everyone!

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Recap and Look Ahead

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Last I spoke to our Big Toe Joe he was a bit under the weather, and since I’m not sure who’s assigned to write what I thought I’d at least get something posted until he’s back! Let’s take a brief look back at the weekend’s baseball and a look ahead to the coming week.

Friday, April 29: Cubs 6, Braves 1

  • Jon Lester battled with Aaron Blair but neither got a decision. Tied 1-1 in the 8th inning, Matt Szczur hit his first career grand slam which put the game out of Atlanta’s reach.

Saturday, April 30: Rainout. Makeup date not yet scheduled.

Sunday, May 1: Braves 4, Cubs 3 (10 innings)

  • Addison Russell sent the game into extra innings with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, but Hector Rondon couldn’t hold the lead and the Cubs lost a close one in 10.

Monday, May 2, 6:05 pm CT: Cubs @ Pirates

  • Probable starters: Jason Hammel/Gerrit Cole

Tuesday, May 3, 6:05 pm CT: Cubs @ Pirates

  • Probable starters: Jake Arietta/Jonathon Niese

Wednesday, May 4, 11:35 am CT: Cubs @ Pirates

  • Probable starters: Jon Lester/Juan Nicasio

The Cubs head back home on Thursday for a four game series with the Washington Nationals.

Please chat among yourselves while our fearless leader is MIA. :-)


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Sophomore Slumps? Not with These Guys

Friday, April 29th, 2016

An old saying in every sport is the “sophomore slump” for a player that struggles in his second year of action. With so many young players that are entering that area for the Cubs in 2016, it is easy to point to that as a possible fallback for bad performance. However, the Cubs sophomores are performing, and getting better.

One of the storylines for the 2015 Cubs was the young kids coming up from the minor leagues and performing, while helping the Cubs reach the NLCS. Heading into 2016, the worry with some people was about the dreaded “sophomore slump” with these young Cubs. It is one of the worst narratives to have for a young player, but these Cubs don’t seem affected by it (or really anything for that matter). While a slow start has caused some to concern, the two sophomores for the Cubs, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, are on their way to prove that this “sophomore slump” won’t affect these Cubs.

Starting with the sophomores, why not start with the reigning National League Rookie of the Year? Kris Bryant, the highly touted top prospect for the Cubs, busted onto the scene in 2015 by posting a 6.5 fWAR, which was good for 10th overall in baseball and the third highest among Major League 3rd basemen, behind Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado. 2016 started with high expectations for Bryant, and Bryant has picked up where he left off. Through Wednesday, the third baseman has a slash line of .280/.352/.500 in 91 plate appearances, with four home runs, six doubles, and 15 knocked in, while compiling 1.0 fWAR in the process. Actually, these numbers could even get better. His batting average on balls in play is only .317, which is 61 points lower from his 2015 mark of .378. Bryant has not had a BABIP lower than .333 in his professional career. One of the adjustments Bryant has made this season is his swing rates. In 2015, Bryant had the worst contact rate on pitches in the strike zone in all of baseball, making contact with just 75.8% of balls in the zone. This year, the third baseman has raised that mark to 81.6% of the time, which is still slightly below league average, but is still an improvement. Another good early sign for Bryant is his strikeout rate in down over 10%, from 30.6% in 2015 down to 19.6% this year. Bryant’s bat is not the only part of his game that has gotten off to a hot start, his play in the field has been fantastic. Bryant is 3rd among all Major League 3rd baseman in defensive WAR, UZR, UZR/150 and seventh in defensive runs saved. Bryant has also made every play in left field, when he has been out there. Bryant is one of the best third baseman in baseball and one of the best players in the league. If he continues this, he will come close to matching the production of 2015, with no delayed start.

After Bryant made his debut in 2015, a few days later Addison Russell got the call and became the Cubs primary second baseman. Once Russell took over full time at shortstop at the beginning of August, that is when the young Cub took off. Russell’s offensive game wasn’t great last year, but a second half stance adjustment helped him immensely. During the second half of 2015, Russell hit .259/.318/.427 good for a .744 OPS, which was almost 100 points higher than his first half, which is understandable for a guy who had just 59 career plate appearances at AAA before he was called up to the majors. In 2016, Russell, who has been moved out of the 9 hole where he hit all of 2015, got off to a slow start, but has picked it up lately. Through Wednesday the 22-year-old shortstop is hitting .234/.342/.375 in 76 plate appearances. One aspect of Russell’s game that has improved from 2015 has been his walk rate and his strikeout rate. Last year, Russell had an 8.0% walk rate and a 28.5% strikeout rate. However, this season Russell is up to a 13.2% walk rate and his strikeout rate is down to 17.1%. His average may be down, but Russell has been subject of some bad luck to this point. His batting average on balls in play is .260, which is 64 points lower than his .324-mark last year. To couple with that, his hard hit contact rate is up from 27.1% to 28.8%. Also, Russell’s contact rate on balls in the strike zone has went up as well, from 71.1% in 2015 to 76.6% this year. When you think about Russell, his defense is the one strength you think of, and he has not disappointed. Russell ranks 5th among Major League shortstops in defensive runs saved and UZR/150 and fourth in defensive WAR and UZR. Russell continues to be one of the premier shortstops in the National League and in all of baseball. As his bat continues to improve, he is even going to be more dangerous.

The Cubs have a bundle of young talent that surrounds the nucleus of the team. Kris Bryant and Addison Russell have performed since their debuts in April of 2015 and continue to be a big piece of the Cubs formula for their hot start in 2016. The team is playing well, as one of the best teams in baseball. Bryant and Russell are showing that their 2015 season was a building block going forward and not just a flash in the pan, which no one expected it to be. As the two continue to grow, the Cubs left side of the infield will be locked in for many years to come, which is very nice to see. The Cubs have a ton of young talent, but Bryant and Russell are the two sophomores that are going to be a huge part of the Cubs success in 2016.

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Stat of the Week – How Good Are The Cubs?

Friday, April 29th, 2016

One of our readers, Andrew Berman, shared some research he did where he looked into the best starts to the regular season in major league history, specifically referencing the Chicago Cubs and their 20-game tear to open up 2016. Andrew’s research references Bill James’ Pythagorean Winning Percentage, which uses a team’s runs scored and runs allowed to estimate their expected win-loss record. Runs scored and allowed are more representative of a team’s underlying performance than wins and losses over a small sample, and so it’s no surprise that Pythagorean Winning Percentage has proven more predictive of team’s future win-loss records than their actual win-loss records.

As it stands today, the Cubs hold a major league-best 15-5 record. But how does their Pythagorean record stack up against some of baseball’s historically great teams? We went back 75 years and examined each team’s first 20 games of the season. Here’s what we found:

Pythagorean Winning Percentage Through 20 Games, 1940-2016
Team Year Runs Scored Runs Allowed Pythagorean Win% Outcome
Athletics 1981 99 37 .877 Lost ALCS
Dodgers 1974 117 51 .840 Lost World Series
Cubs 2016 123 54 .838 TBD
Yankees 2003 142 63 .836 Lost World Series
Red Sox 2001 109 49 .832 Missed Postseason
Twins 1972 96 49 .793 Missed Postseason
Indians 1959 121 62 .792 Finished 2nd in AL
Cardinals 2012 104 54 .788 Lost NLCS
Dodgers 1941 120 63 .784 Lost World Series
Tigers 1984 120 63 .784 Won World Series

The Cubs boast the best Pythagorean Winning Percentage in over 30 years of baseball. Granted, we’re putting stake in only an eighth of a season’s worth of data, but there is some pretty remarkable company shown in the table. Of the bunch, only two teams missed the postseason, while four of the seven who did dress in October found themselves playing for the World Series by season’s end. Let’s see how their run differential compares to some of the great teams of the past.

Run Differential Leaders Through 20 Games, 1940-2016
Team Season Runs Scored Runs Allowed Run Differential
Yankees 2003 142 63 79
Cubs 2016 123 54 69
Dodgers 1974 117 51 66
Tigers 1993 158 93 65
Cardinals 1962 141 77 64

From top to bottom, the Cubs have done everything well this season, dominating all phases of the game. Their pitching has been spectacular, where they own a league-leading 0.96 WHIP and the league’s third-best ERA at 2.58. As we wrote last week, their defense has been among the best in baseball so far, and their offense has been well above average in its own right. For a bit of perspective on this season, here’s how the run differential leaderboard shapes up through the first 20 games of 2016.

Run Differential Leaders Through 20 Games, 2016
Team Runs Scored Runs Allowed Run Differential
Cubs 123 54 69
Cardinals 126 85 41
Nationals 82 52 30
Mets 88 60 28
Dodgers 96 74 22

When restricting to only the first 20 games of 2016, the Cubs are well ahead of the rest of the field. While they certainly won’t maintain this torrid pace, their differential of plus-69 runs prorates to 559 over a 162-game season. Give or take 200 runs, and that mark would still easily top the 1998 Yankees’ differential of 309 runs, the greatest difference dating back to 1940. But only time will tell if history was meant to be made in 2016.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®,

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GirlieView (04/28/2016)

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely, and/or interesting quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2016 Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.


  • I’m going on record right now and predicting 20+ home runs from Addison this year and a potential gold glove award.
  • Munenori Kawasaki reminds me of Tony Campana without the motorcycle goggles
  • I’d take Kow’s goggles over Campana’s giant goddamned helmet. I guess.
  • he was the great gazoo from the Flintstones.
  • Who takes a day off on Tuesday?
  • The Moody Blues.
  • Outstanding. That would be a Lizzie if it weren’t for the fact that you just proved us to be very old.
  • has Len come up with a pithy nick name for him yet? Lame Cub fans need to know.
  • Eggs De La Cruz
  • Pablo Cruz…………rock on Len!
  • Motley Cruz for rough outings
  • Cruz Control
  • Grimm and Ross = Gross
  • Lackey’s hugely pivotal performance in moments such as these – of which there were others sprinkled throughout the game – proved to be the hinges on which the game ultimately swung.
  • They scored nine runs in 40 degrees.
  • The Cubs are 7-0 thus far in games they have won. I fully expect them to remain undefeated when outscoring the opponent.
  • That’s the kind of insight I come here for.
  • You say, when they bat around it really f’s up your score card.
  • The teams we have beat may not be that good, but we’ve beaten them very badly. When we get to the good teams, we’ll beat them, maybe just not quite as badly.
  • With high walk rates, lower strikeout rates, and lower chase percentages, the Cubs offense is going to be a nightmare for pitchers throughout the 2016 season.
  • I’m running out of things to say about Jake and his crazy good pitching.
  • A non-Cubs fan asked me the other day if I “really thought Arrieta is *that* good.” I hesitated both because I don’t want to sound like a giant homer, and because I’m waiting for things to regress a bit back to the mean. The longer he continues to pitch like this, though, it’s going to get harder and harder to say anything but “yes, he really is *that* good.”
  • Maddon said he let Jake bat in the bottom of the 8th because he wanted him to get on base so Wood could pinch run.
  • Wood pinch runs hard, presumably.
  • Wood is good, but when you really want to swing it hard, it takes a Johnson.
  • This team needs to work on some fundamentals…but it’s nice to be winning early.
  • It’s nice to see we can screw up a simple run down, but still win the game. That’s something new.
  • It was a great night to be Lackey.
  • Hammel nutted up when he needed to – both on the mound and at the plate, and that was great to see.
  • 10:45 AM start today for us on the west coast. Unfortunately there’s a Microsoft webinar with mandatory attendance starting around that time that could go for 3+ hours.
  • I would plug in my headphones and try to listen to the game on the radio while pretending to pay attention.
  • Picture in a picture. Just remember not to react if you have a camera on you.
  • blah blah start button blah blah bing blah excel
  • That’s the advanced stuff covered in the next webinar.
  • Enjoy this team. Savor the moments. Have a disco-ball-and-champagne party after every victory!
  • I have so many questions for him about Leonard and Penny.
  • Prince just canceled all his concerts in North Carolina
  • Dropped the game off my phone to tell you bozos to tune in.. Jake’s close and it’s a slaughterhouse
  • First David Ross no hitter.
  • well, of that nature
  • I had that weird feeling last night down deep in my loins and it wasn’t an STD.
  • It’s incredibly important to dominate this division so we’re not relegated to the wild card. We’re off to a good start.
  • And then Len said, “I never saw Prince live in concert, I can’t believe I never will. Today sucks.”
  • Cincy needs a mercy rule
  • Thanks Jake for making me question my sexuality.
  • One of my favorite plays in all of baseball is the squeeze bunt.
  • JD will have some insight into pitch selection which Len will completely ignore and go on to tell you about the Don Earl Band he saw at a Honky Tonk across the river in Kentucky after last nights game.
  • I wear my Cubs boxers every game day.
  • You wear underwear?
  • Raker is not Matt Murton.


  • Getting on base is everything.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Bryan, Ben, Bruce Fritz, Bryan, CAPS, Chris O’Reilly, Luke Jett, and Sean Powell for their first 2016 Regular Season Lizzies!!!! Thanks for being here!


  • Congratulations to Eddie Von White, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time around for the second time in a row! Way to go EVW!

Top 10 of the 2016 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Eddie von White
2. Doc Raker
2. jswanson
4. Sherm
5. Joe Aiello
5. Seymour Butts
7. cap’n realist
8. Doug S
9. Brad Lyerla
9. Sean Powell

Chit Chat

I wanted to re-cap our chit chat from last time, where I asked you who your favorite Cubs were now that you had seen a few games. Here are the results of that highly scientific poll, player name followed by how many overall votes. Just like the election. By the way for those who asked, I was in Washington DC last week. Pleasure, not political. It was amazing! Anyway here are the results.

  • Rizzo = 6
  • Arietta = 5
  • Fowler = 5
  • Russell = 3
  • Bryant = 2
  • Epstein = 2
  • Hoyer = 1
  • Maddon = 1
  • Zobrist = 1
  • Rondon = 1
  • Schwarber = 1
  • Strop = 1
  • Wood = 1
  • Lizzie = 1
  • Raker = 1
  • Seymour = 1
  • Jedi Johnson = 1
  • Jeremiah Johnson = 1
  • The old perv who asked CAPS for pics from his lifeguard days = 1
  • Sue = 1
  • The Ball Dude = 1
  • The guy who invented protective netting = 1
  • Ernie = 1
  • Ronnie = 1
  • Billy = 1
  • Doug Dascenzo = 1
  • Carlos Silva = 1
  • Adam Dunn if we would have signed him in 05 = 1
  • Dusty = 1
  • Quade = 1
  • Sveum = 1

Enjoy the rest of your week! (One last thing, I had to wrap this up on Monday this time around. No worries, as usual I will pick up right where I left off so your mid-week wit won’t be for naught.)

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Three Strikes – No Fly Zone

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Hero & Goat

WPA Leader and Loser

HERO - Addison Russell (+.328 WPA)

GOAT - Jason Heyward (-.176 WPA)

Video Recap

Strike One – No Fly Zone

That is what Wrigley Field became last night as the cold and wind rendered any fly ball useless to the batter. Any runs had to be created by groundballs and line drives which created a good pitching matchup. Both Jimmy Nelson for the Brewers and Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs pitched very well. Through the first 4 innings both pitchers allowed very few hard hit balls, with Hendricks giving up only a double and a sacrifice fly. There were a few different occurrences where home run balls could have changed the game that did not happen. Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler both should have had home runs, with Fowler’s being a grand slam turned sac fly in the 5th inning. At the end of the game, the wind proved to be a savior, as a deep fly ball by Aaron hill was knocked down before going over the wall to give the Brewers the lead in the top of the 9th.

Strike Two – Hendricks Pulled Early

As I mentioned before, Hendricks was throwing a great game, his only hiccup being in the second inning when he gave up a run on a walk, double, and sac fly. He was consistently hitting his spots, and had great command of the outside corner of the plate. Despite his success, an opportunity came up in the 5th inning for the Cubs to have a big inning and take control of the game. Up to that point, the Cubs struggled to threaten to score against Jimmy Nelson and Joe Maddon felt that they needed to take the opportunity. Jorge Soler and Addison Russell both reached base and David Ross bunted them over to second and third, theoretically bringing up Hendricks. Instead, Maddon decided to pull Hendricks early and let Tommy La Stella pinch hit for a better change to score some runs. La Stella drew a walk and allowed Fowler to bring in the the tying run with his sac fly. That decision proved to be pivotal, as it only ended up being a 1 run game. It is also important to note the value of Adam Warren, which allowed Maddon to make the move. He has been lights out so far this season. He has yet to give up a run this season, and is proving to be more worthy of the Starlin Castro trade than I first thought.

Strike Three – Russell the Hero

In addition to making a few key defensive plays, Russell had the hit of the night. In the 6th inning, he came through with a 2 RBI triple that scored Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist and opened up a 3-1 lead. It was by far the hardest hit ball for the Cubs and might have had a chance to clear the wall if not for the wind.

On a night where offense was hard to come by, the Cubs delivered hits when they needed to and the pitchers did their job. Hector Rondon also did a good job closing out the top of the 9th and earned his 4th save in 4 tries.

The Cubs will send Jake Arrieta to the mound as he looks to continue his success after last week’s no-hitter. Up for the Brewers will be Taylor Jungmann who has had some trouble so far this season. He has had a tendency to walk a lot of batters and throw a lot of pitches so it will be interesting to see how the Cubs can feed off of that.

The weather looks like it will be cold and windy again, with the added element of possible rain. So offense might be hard to come by again. Hopefully the game will not be rained out because I am driving down to Chicago from Madison tomorrow for the game for my roommate’s birthday. He happens to be a Brewers beat writer so I really want to watch my team beat his.

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Three Strikes – Winning the Week

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Hero & Goat

WPA Leader and Loser

Hero - Anthony Rizzo (+.181)

Goat - Kris Bryant (-.017)

Video Recap

Strike One – Early Offense & Dominant Pitching

The Cubs scored 8 runs in the first 3 innings of play by simply overmatching the Reds’ starter Alfredo Simon, who has been sharp against the Cubs in the past. Tommy La Stella, in a spot start to give Dexter Fowler a much-deserved day off, set the tone with the first at-bat of the game: he sat on 6 pitches from Simon, before doubling off the center-field wall to promptly set the plate for Jason Heyward. Heyward, who has looked out of sync in his first 18 games with the Cubs, snapped awake emphatically Sunday. He finished 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs, and looked as comfortable at the plate as he ever has. In all, the Cubs’ 1 through 4 hitters went 11 for 17 with 2 walks (both Kris Bryant’s), and 8 of the 9 RBI’s. What remains exciting about this club, however, is the ability for the tables to be turned, and the bottom of the order’s ability to do this for the top of the order.

Pitching-wise, Jason Hammel had all he needed by the end of the 1st inning. He went six strong innings, allowing a mere 3 hits with 7 strikeouts and 3 walks. During each game he has pitched, I have continuously marveled at how much healthier he looks this year after dropping weight; he seems more comfortable in his own skin, and thusly psychologically in more games than perhaps he was even last year. He is the pitcher, amongst a strong staff, that has the chance to see the most improvement this year, with plenty of pressure being taken away with the signing of John Lackey. He seems comfortable in the #4 spot.

Strike Two – Utility Players in Spot Starts

As Len and JD have discussed time and again throughout the season, to great effect, is Joe Maddon’s strategy of wasting no time in getting guys like Tommy La Stella and Matt Szczur spot starts early in the season. What is so exciting is that not only does the rest of the team seem to support this, but there really seems to be no questioning of whether or not it’s right. It just is. These early starts instill confidence in La Stella and Szczur, who will be at-bat with games on the line later on in the season’s grind during the summer and push during the autumn. Keeping them fresh also keeps everyday guys like Fowler and Zobrist fresh. And, not least of all, the Cubs’ utility men could be starters on other teams – they are talented and are more than capable of filling in. The intangible glue that has held this group of guys together is the chemistry so relaxingly cultivated and set in place by Joe Maddon. And by nurturing this dynamic early during the season, the blossoming will manifest later when the Cubs will need it most.

Strike Three – A Winning Week Away

In all, the Cubs finished 5-2 during their week road trip to St. Louis and Cincinnati. These division road games hold extra importance, especially against the fierce rival Cardinals. The week saw the Cubs outscore their opponents 48-20 – an average score of 7-3. Against the Reds, the Cubs scored in 16 of the 36 innings they batted, including 13 with 2 or more. Defensively, too, while a few errors were made throughout the week, the MLB was shown the importance of defense through Jason Heyward’s plethora of run-saving catches and throws. They finished the week, too, as the only club in the MLB to not have lost back-to-back games. In all, and in my own opinion, the week served as a showing of how complete the Cubs are, even with the absence of Kyle Schwarber. While they will lose games – every team must, no matter how dominant, which is a really amazing fact to have to re-assure oneself – these will, for the first time in some time, be in the ever-shrinking minority.

Oh, and that’s right, Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter.

The Cubs head home to host the Brewers, who currently reside in the NL Central basement.

Tuesday - Jimmy Nelson vs Kyle Hendricks (8:05p EDT)

WednesdayTaylor Jungmann vs Jake Arrieta (8:05p EDT)

ThursdayZach Davies vs Jon Lester (2:20p EDT)


1876 – The Chicago White Stockings make their National League debut with a 4-0 victory over the Grays at the Louisville Baseball Park. The franchise, which will be also known as the Colts and Orphans before becoming the Cubs in 1903, will finish in first place in the circuit’s inaugural season.

1976 – During the fourth inning of the game being played at Dodger Stadium, Rick Monday becomes a national hero when he takes away an American Flag about to be set on fire by the two trespassers (a father and son) in the outfield. The Cubs’ 30 year-old fly chaser, who served six years in the Marine Reserves, will be presented the flag a month later in a pre-game ceremony at Wrigley Field by L.A. executive Al Campanis as a gesture of patriotic thanks.

1978 – At Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, the Phillie Phanatic makes his debut in a game against the Cubs. The six foot green mascot with a 90-inch waistline is played by Dave Raymond, who will keep the job for 15 years after starting as an intern in the team’s front office.

1989 – With former players on hand, including Billy Herman, Andy Pafko and Billy Williams, the Cubs celebrate the 75th anniversary of Wrigley Field with a 4-0 victory over L.A. at the Friendly Confines. The ‘ceremonial’ first pitch of the game, a spitball, is thrown by 97 year-old Bob Wright, who appeared in two games for Chicago in 1915 when the team played their home games at West Side Park.

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Three Strikes – Squeeze You Like a Snake

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Hero & Goat

WPA Leader and Loser

HERO – Jon Lester: +.281 WPA

GOAT – Dexter Fowler: -.056 WPA

Video Recap

Strike One – Lester Gets Overlooked?

Unfortunately, there are downsides to having Jake Arrieta on your team. If you’re in the rotation, a good start by you may look less than stellar because the benchmark it’s being compared to is unworldly.

What are you supposed to do with that? Lester and the rest of the rotation can’t compete with that. It’s not human. Lester turned in a seven inning performance, only allowing one run and even got himself an RBI and it’s not even close. Poor guy.

Strike Two – Squeeze Me

One of my favorite plays in all of baseball is the squeeze bunt. There is something exciting about the fact that the manager always carries it around in his back pocket and can play it at any time when the situation allows. Last night Joe Maddon busted it out not once, but twice with David Ross and Lester. Both executed it perfectly and it generated a pair  of runs. It’s been fun to watch Ross this year. The eye test says that he’s been more valuable offensively this year and the numbers certainly bear it out. He’s sporting a nice 114 OPS+ so far, which means he’s roughly 14% above  league average. Considering last year he had an OPS+ of 44, I’ll take the new David Ross.

Strike Three – Rizzo Power

Anthony Rizzo appears to have found his power stroke, hitting a home run last night for the third straight game. I am convinced he is going to win an MVP one of these years. Everyone talks about how Kris Bryant has the higher ceiling, but I’m a Rizzo guy. I think he has the highest ceiling and is most likely to reach it. What he can do offensively against lefties is amazing considering where he was when he came into the league. Throw in better defense than Bryant and I think Rizzo will be a better player when all is said and done.

John LackeyLackey struck out 11 and held the Cardinals to four hits over seven scoreless innings Monday. The right-hander effectively mixed his pitches, and he’ll have to do so again against the Reds, whom he beat April 13 at Wrigley Field.


Dan Straily – In his first start after three relief appearances, Straily turned in five nice innings with one run and two hits for a no-decision on Monday vs. Colorado. The right-hander threw 52 of his 76 pitches for strikes.


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Three Strikes – Utter Domination

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Hero & Goat

WPA Leader and Loser

Jake Arrieta: +.263 WPA

Addison Russell: -.028 WPA

Video Recap

Strike One – Pitching Domination

I’m just gonna leave this here so you know I had a feeling before the game.

Poor Jon Lester

Strike Two – Hitting Domination

I’m too lazy to look it up, but I feel like this may be the most lopsided no hitter ever with 16 runs of support. Enjoy just one sample.

Strike Three – Divisional Domination

The Cubs are now 6-1 against the NL Central division and look to be the cream of the crop. It’s incredibly important to dominate this division so we’re not relegated to the wild card. We’re off to a good start.

Jon Lester (LHP) - Lester’s 2.21 ERA through three starts is a significant improvement from his 6.89 mark at this time last year. He is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts at Great American Ball Park.


Jon Moscot (RHP) - In his ’16 debut, Moscot threw 102 pitches in 5 2/3 innings but gave himself something to build on. He gave up two homers and three runs overall on six hits and one walk. With more days, he should have more stamina to go deep in games going forward.


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