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NLDS Preview

Friday, October 9th, 2015

General thoughts on the series

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am happy that it’s worked out that the Cubs will be playing the Cardinals in this 5 game NLDS. Even after Wednesday night’s one game playoff, I still think that beating the Pirates in a best of 5 series would have been more difficult. In any case, we have the fluke and possibly unlucky reality that the best three teams in baseball were all stacked in the same division, so while each team probably deserved to avoid the wild card, that just wasn’t the case.

It doesn’t need to be said that the rivalry here is historic and among the best and longest running sports rivalries in history and that these two teams have never faced each other in the playoffs before. Those are the kinds of things that fans and commentators worry about more than the players and the managers. Perhaps it’s somewhere in the back of their minds, but I have doubts that these players care much about things like that.

What is more important is paying attention to the pitching matchups, when the games are being played, and where. The Cardinals will, of course, have home field advantage in this case, so games 1-2 and game 5 (if it’s necessary) will be in St. Louis. When I look at a series like this, and especially one that opens on the road, I typically hope for my team to plan on winning at least one of the first two road games. Obviously, taking both would be ideal, but naturally less likely. Then, when you return home for two games, you work to prevent the same thing from happening to you. Win both games 3 and 4 and call it a series. Because, if the series returns to St. Louis for game 5, that’s where I get nervous. At that point, you have probably already had Jake Arrieta pitch game 3 at home on Monday, and it is now Thursday on the road. Do you pitch him again on such short rest? Or do you trust another starter (probably Jon Lester here) to take this game? It’s a question I don’t want Joe Maddon to have to answer.

Really, I think the best sense we’ll get from this series will come from how the first two games turn out. If the Cubs win one of these (or both, of course), then I have every bit of confidence that we’ll be seeing them in the NLCS. They have shown that they can win in St. Louis and that they are not prone to being fazed by big game situations – a one game playoff has to be intense for them, heck, I didn’t sit down until the 7th inning – so I will confidently predict that the Cubs will advance after 4 games with Saturday’s game being the only loss.

Game 1 – Friday, October 9 @ 5:30 (Central) – St. Louis

Jon Lester

11-12, 3.34 in the regular season. Lester has extensive playoff pitching experience, the majority of which coming with the Red Sox between 2007 and 2013. He pitched in the AL wild card game for what ended up being a loss last year while with Oakland, but as a member of the Red Sox, Lester has gone 6-4 with an ERA of 2.57. What I find most encouraging is that he has typically done well with going pretty deep into games and keeping runners off of the basepaths. His best effort actually came in the 2013 World Series against the Cardinals, when he went 2-0 with an ERA of 0.59 and a WHIP of 0.652 in 15.1 innings.

John Lackey

Don’t let the fact that he looks a little bit like a drifter/murder distract you, he’s actually had a pretty solid season, going 13-10, 2.77 in the regular season. Lackey, too, has vast postseason experience. He’s 7-5 overall with a 3.08 ERA in 117 total postseason innings going back to 2002 with the Angels.

Game 2 – Saturday, October 10 @ 4:30 – St. Louis

Kyle Hendricks

This might be code for “Bullpen Start,” but we’ll see. Hendricks ultimately put together a pretty respectable season, going 8-7, 3.95 in 2015. This will be his first postseason appearance, but for what it’s worth, his last two starts of the season (against the Royals and Brewers) both looked pretty solid. These came after a pretty rough stretch from the middle of July until the last two starts that saw his ERA go from 3.44 to 4.23. Hendricks may surprise us, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Maddon turn to Travis Wood fairly early in this one. If we can get 5 innings from Hendricks, 2 or 3 from Wood, and then (hopefully) hand over a lead to Hector Rondon, then I can live with that.

Jaime Garcia

10-6, 2.43 in the regular season.  He only made 20 starts this season, so his arm has seen less use than some of the other starters in this series (he threw just 129.2 innings in the regular season). As for the playoffs, he is 0-2, 4.23 with appearances in 2011 and 2012. His playoff numbers are not terribly impressive when you look over them, but keep in mind that he has not pitched in that environment in 3 years, so I don’t know how much can be drawn from that. As I said earlier, our hardest matchup in this series is probably this one.

Game 3 – Monday, October 12 @ TBD – Chicago

Jake Arrieta

22-6, 1.77. A definite NL CY Young candidate this year and he has, as we all have had the blessing of watching firsthand, been on a historic run since about the All Star break. I won’t rehash all of those numbers here, because I think we saw on Wednesday night just what kind of performance we can expect from him in the playoffs. Against a very tough Pirates lineup, he held them to 4 hits, 0 walks, and had 11 strikeouts in a complete game shutout. I have full confidence that Monday will be at least the second win of this series, if not the completion of a sweep.

Michael Wacha

17-7, 3.38. Wacha is in just his third season in the majors, but he has already shown that he has the talent to be an impact pitcher, especially in the 2013 NLCS, when he was awarded the MVP for going 2-0 with a 0.659 WHIP in just over 13 innings against the Dodgers. This matchup will be reminiscent of the wild card game, although Gerrit Cole was probably a slightly tougher challenge for the Cubs offense.

Game 4 (if necessary) – Tuesday, October 13 @ 3:30 – Chicago

Jason Hammel

Right now, Hammel is listed as the starter for this game, but this could always change. Like the Hendricks start, Hammel could very well only be out there for 4 or 5 innings, so this one may fall on our bullpen again. Hammel went 10-7, 3.74 in the regular season and he has pretty sporadic and sparse postseason experience. He has pitched just 15 total innings, in which he has a 4.80 ERA and a 1.467 WHIP.

Lance Lynn

12-11, 3.03. Lynn has pitched in the postseason in each of the past 4 seasons. In 51 total innings, he has a 5-4 record and a 4.41 ERA. He has pitched at each stage of the playoffs, including two different World Series appearances, in 2011 and 2013. If this series is going to go to 5 games, I expect that it could come because the Cubs offense does not provide ample run support for Hammel in this game.

Game 5 (if necessary) – Thursday, October 15 @ 3:30 – St. Louis

No pitchers are yet announced for this game, but I would suspect that your game 1 starters are probably the most likely candidates here. That said, though I think the Cubs can win this series in 4 games, I am still confident that they can win it in 5 because of the pitching matchup in this game.

In all, I expect to see the Cubs moving on to the NLCS for the first time since 2003. Let’s hope it turns out much, much better this time.

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Wild Card Recap: On to the NLDS!

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Cubs win, 4-0

I will start by saying that this game did not go much at all like I expected. I was honestly anticipating a 1-0 or 2-1 final score and anticipated that it might come down to the bullpen. In which case, I was a little nervous about our chances, given the strength of the Pittsburgh bullpen, especially the 8th and 9th innings.

Thankfully, Dexter Fowler got things started right away in the first inning by getting on base and then coming in to score on a Kyle Schwarber single. Ultimately, Fowler and Schwarber proved to be the driving force in the offense, as they combined for all 4 of the Cubs runs last night.

My favorite moment of the game, speaking of Schwarber, was probably his 2 run homerun in the third inning. The subtle bat flip was a nice touch, too. Even as the Cubs tacked on a fourth run on Fowler’s solo shot in the fifth inning, I still felt like I couldn’t exhale until the final out of the ninth inning. Maybe it’s the Cubs fan in me, maybe it’s the fact that it’s the playoffs, and maybe it’s that the Pirates are good enough to overcome a 4 run deficit, but it was a great relief to see that final out come just shy of three hours after the start of the game.

On defense, we saw two very vital double plays, particularly in the fifth inning, when the Pirates loaded the bases with just one out and suddenly that four run lead looked very precarious, even with Jake Arrieta on the mound. These are the kinds of things that need to happen on defense behind any of our starting pitchers to win games going forward.

There was some silliness late in the game after Arrieta took one to the hip from Pirates reliever Tony Watson. This was following a HBP from Arrieta to both Francisco Cervelli and Josh Harrison, so it didn’t come as a total surprise that the Pirates threw at someone, but going after Arrieta seems a bit low.  After the benches cleared and Sean Rodriguez tried his darndest to fight someone, anyone, the action resumed.

Really though, along with Fowler, Arrieta was the absolute stud of the game. He pitched a 4 hit complete game shutout. This is the kind of performance you need from your top pitcher to carry you deep into the playoffs. He was as dominant as he’s been all year, striking out 11 Pirates batters and giving up just the 4 hits. And along with that, he gave up zero walks. Zero. Granted, he hit two batters, but he was about as locked in as you can be against a very talented Pirates offense. Strangely, this felt like one of Arrieta’s poorer performances somehow. This just shows how absolutely phenomenal he has been since the All Star break.

General thoughts

Really, getting to Gerrit Cole so early was key. Again, I did not expect to see this happen, but I knew that if the Cubs were going to have a chance, they needed to put a few runs up on the board fairly early.

I was surprised to see Tommy La Stella in the lineup last night and not Chris Coghlan, and after the game, I am still not sure I get it. Far be it from me to question Maddon’s lineups, but La Stella never really looked like he was in his at bats, striking out once in his two trips to the plate. Not that Austin Jackson fared much better when he came in either (he struck out twice).

We’re going to need some offense from Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo going forward. Neither of them had a hit last night, and while thankfully Schwarber and Fowler provided enough offense for the win, I want to see production from Bryant and Rizzo in order to feel comfortable about our chances.

Looking ahead

I am a bit thankful that it’s the Cardinals that we’ll be facing in the NLDS, because I feel a little more like they are beatable for us than the Pirates would have been. I will have a more detailed NLDS preview for tomorrow morning’s post, but going forward, the Cubs will be in St. Louis for the first two games of this series tomorrow and Saturday.

Tomorrow evening, the Cubs will send Jon Lester to the mound against John Lackey for Game 1 on TBS. For now, we can all breathe a bit and enjoy last night’s victory.

Oh, and I’ll leave you with this:



1908: In a make-up game necessitated by Fred Merkle‘s base running blunder on September 23, Three Finger Brown outduels Christy Mathewson, 4-2, as the Cubs win the National League pennant by one game over the Giants in one of the most dramatic pennant races of all time.

1929: In front of 50,000 fans at Wrigley Field, surprise starter Howard Ehmke establishes a new World Series record, striking out 13 Cubs en route to a 3-1 A’s victory in Game 1 of the Fall Classic. The mark will last for 34 years until Dodger hurler Carl Erskine fans 14 Yankees in 1953.

2008: The Cubs exercise Rich Harden’s $7 million option for next year, the day after tests reveal the 26 year-old hurler has a sound pitching shoulder. The hard-throwing right-hander, obtained from the A’s in a July deal, compiled a combined record of 10-2, posting a 2.07 ERA in 25 starts for his two teams.


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25 man roster for Wild Card announced

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015


The official 25 man roster for tonight’s game was announced and published on the Chicago Tribune’s website earlier, and here’s a look:


Kyle Hendricks, RHP

Clayton Richard, LHP

Jon Lester, LHP

Travis Wood, LHP

Pedro Strop, RHP

Jake Arrieta, RHP

Justin Grimm, RHP

Trevor Cahill, RHP

Hector Rondon, RHP

Fernando Rodney, RHP

Position Players

David Ross – Catcher

Quintin Berry – Pinch Runner

Chris Coghlan – Outfield

Javier Baez – Second Base/Shortstop

Tommy La Stella – Second Base/Third Base

Kyle Schwarber – Catcher/Outfield

Starlin Castro – Shortstop/Second Base

Chris Denorfia – Outfield

Kris Bryant – Third Base

Addison Russell – Shortstop

Dexter Fowler – Outfield

Austin Jackson – Outfield

Anthony Rizzo – First Base

Miguel Montero – Catcher

Jorge Soler – Outfield

Notables not on the roster:

Jonathan Herrera and Neil Ramirez.

This roster will likely change in the event of an NLDS, but for tonight, these are the guys Joe Maddon will have available to him.

The presence of Hendricks is probably the biggest surprise, given that he hasn’t made a relief appearance in a very long time and Arrieta is not exactly known for not being able to make lengthy starts, but the contingency plan of carrying multiple starters for tonight is a smart one.

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Regular season in review, and a look at the wild card game

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

2015 in review

The 2015 regular season ended two days ago, and not having any baseball yesterday gave us an opportunity to reflect a bit on what the season brought us, both good and bad. Though mostly good, of course.

The Good:

97 wins. Honestly, I remember cautiously telling people back in February and March that I thought the Cubs might flirt with 90 wins. Maybe. But my more realistic and honest prediction was about 83 or 84. I had resigned myself to being content with just making positive progress and getting over .500 in 2015. The playoffs weren’t even on my radar. Thankfully, I was overly conservative about this. Owed largely to a final two months of the regular season that saw the Cubs go 42-18, they’ve finished much, much better than I anticipated. Their worst month was May, and even then they were at .500 for the month.

The rookies. I had kind of expected this aspect of the team to be their Achilles’ Heel, at least for this year. It just didn’t seem plausible that a team whose offense was driven by guys who aren’t even old enough to rent a car (you still have to be 25 to do that, right?) would have the ability to produce at the level that they did. It helped, I think, that there are so many weapons on our offense, and, just think, this aspect of the team will likely only get better. We all anxiously anticipated the arrival of Kris Bryant of course, but I had really only expected he and Jorge Soler to be impact rookies on the offense. Addison Russell I didn’t expect to see until June or July, and Kyle Schwarber I didn’t really expect at all until roster expansion call ups.

Arrieta. I can really say that I have never had the pleasure of watching a Cubs pitcher like Jake Arrieta. I was born after Fergie Jenkins worked his magic, and I don’t think I ever saw Greg Maddux or Kerry Wood dominate like this. And for such a long stretch of the season. To think that at one point I preferred Jon Lester in tomorrow’s wild card is just absurd. And that’s not as if Lester is somehow not a good pitcher. Arrieta has just been completely dominant.

Maddon. His impact is harder to measure, but it would be wrong of me not to acknowledge the fact that having Joe Maddon as our manager is worth at least a few extra wins. And I think we will see that impact continue as the playoffs progress. I am not one for predictions, but I am confident at least in that we can get to the NLDS.

The Bad:

Lester, but not really. Lester definitely got off to a slow start this year, and one that’s taken him longer to shake off in the minds of Cubs fans and beat writers than it probably deserved. I think many of us forgot that he missed a chunk of spring training with an arm injury, so the month of April, for the most part, was his “spring training.” He’s been pretty steady and reliable for the most part in the last month of the season. His last really bad start goes all the way back to August 29. Since then, he had one kind of shaky start against the Cardinals on September 20. I’ll still confidently take him in Game 1 of the NLDS, however.

Castro, but not really. This has been such a strange season for Castro. He got off to a nice start and then went into steady decline (he was batting .233 as of July 26), leading to his eventual benching. And where most players of his caliber and experience would have spelled the end here, he thrived in spite of it. Strangely, as he returned to the lineup, he started hitting again and eventually worked himself back into the lineup, but at second base. Again, much of this I think is owed to the leadership of Maddon, but whatever it is, Castro’s month of September was just downright torrid.

The Pirates and the Cardinals. This is the life of the Cubs fan. We win 97 games and would be leading every. other. division. in. baseball. BUT, two of the teams we share the division with have won 98 and 100 games. Of course. And somehow this means the Cubs and Pirates have to now battle it out in a wild card when a team that only won 88 games (LOOKING AT YOU, TEXAS) has a comfortable division championship.

The one game playoff

I have issues with calling it a play in game, as that conjures up images of “Round 1″ of the March Madness tournament (don’t get me started there), but tomorrow is the night we’ve been anticipating for quite some time. Arrieta helped stoke the fire a bit with some tweets in the last couple of days:

And then when some Pittsburgh beat reporters got a little miffed about it:

This, as you can imagine, stoked a wildfire on baseball twitter last night, much of which I suspect came from the lack of actual baseball to watch, but it was entertaining.

We all know the pitchign matchup for tomorrow, I am sure, but here’s what we’ll have:

Arrieta (22-6, 1.77, no playoff experience) vs. Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60, 1-1 2.45 in the 2013 NLDS)

Expect very little hitting, on both sides, tomorrow night. Really. This could easily be a 1-0 game that depends on the bullpen. And in that case, it might favor Pittsburgh. Our best shot is for Arrieta to go 7 or 8 innings and hand it over to Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon. But, let me be clear, I might have to look away from the TV for a Strop 8th inning.

Whatever happens tomorrow night, this has been a phenomenal season, and I look forward to even better in 2016.


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5 Things a Cubs Fan Needs to Know on October 4

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Yesterday was poker night at my house, so it was a little tricky to multitask by watching the flop, the Cubs game and the Notre Dame / Clemson game, but I did it. It’s incredibly fun to be scoreboard watching. I had the MLB At Bat app set to notify me anytime there was a scoring change in the Pirates game, which was also amazingly fun. as we head into the last day of the regular season, here are some things you need to know.

About Last Night

CUBS 1 @ BREWERS 0 – The night started out very much like the night before. The Reds jumped out to an early lead and I immediately thought it was going to end like the night before where the Pirates come back and win the game late, but it didn’t. All night I waited for a notification that the Pirates had scored again, but it never came and the night ended for the Pirates with a loss.

For the Cubs, it was Kyle Hendricks who had one final case to make for why he deserves the start in game two of the NLDS, and I think he made a good case. In his last three regular season starts, he is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA and a .115 opponent batting average and has struck out 25 hitters in 18 innings. How you can even think about giving the ball to Jason Hammel or a bullpen day is crazy talk. Hendricks needs to get the ball and we need to hope that whatever he’s been doing lately continues into the next start.

100 RBI Club

Both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant sit on 99 RBI. Both have the chance to reach the 100 mark on the last day of the season. To have two guys on the team do it is something that is rare on the Northside. Take a minute and think about it. Here is the list since 1989, when I first began my Cubs fan career:

2004 - Moises Alou (106) and Aramis Ramirez (103)

2002Sammy Sosa (108) and Fred McGriff (103)

1991 - Andre Dawson (104) and Ryne Sandberg (100)

1990 - Dawson (100) and Sandberg (100)

It doesn’t happen nearly enough, so I’m pulling for it today.

Here is another crazy stat. Since 1914, a Cub has reached the 100 RBI club only 62 times.

The Arms Race

This is going to be a sour subject for you guys to read, but if I had a vote for the Cy Young Award, my vote would need to go to Zack Greinke. I understand that Jake Arrieta has had the best 2nd half in Major League history, but we act as if Greinke has not been amazing as well, and while Arrieta’s 2nd half has been huge, his first half ERA was above 2.50. Greinke has been below 2.00 all year long. There are lots of saber numbers that support the case for Greinke. I’ve read them and I semi-understand them. When it comes down to it, i’m a simple guy and I’ve seen remarkable consistency from Greinke all year long. He’s gone at least 6 innings in every start this season and allowed over 3 runs in a game just twice.  I gotta vote for Greinke.

Hey, Remember Motte?

Jason Motte, who has been on the shelf with an injury for some time now, is working diligently to return from a shoulder injury and get to the post-season roster. Patrick Mooney of CSN reports that if the Cubs move deep into the playoffs and Motte’s shoulder continues to respond well to therapy and rehab, he could be ready to be considered for a spot in the bullpen for one of the series. I don’t think we’re going to see it happen, as it’s hard to think you bring someone into a series, potentially the World Series, who had struggled a bit before going on the shelf and has had such an extensive layoff, but you never know. I think we’ve seen the last of Motte. He’s a free agent after the season and I can’t see the Cubs bringing him back on anything more than a one year deal and I have to imagine Motte did enough this year to command a little more. Perhaps he should use Joe Maddon‘s workout routine.

What’s On Tap?

It’s the last game of the season and the Cubs can still clinch a game at Wrigley. Watch the scoreboard and cheer for the Reds. A Cubs win and a Pirates loss means a game at Wrigley.

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5 Things a Cubs Fan Needs to Know on October 3

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

Game Notes

In Jake Arrieta’s last start before the wild card game, he led the Cubs to a 6-1 win to push the team total to 95 wins on the season. In the process he was able to continue his dominance and state his Cy Young case. The Cubs limited Arrieta to just 6 innings to make sure he’s fresh for next Wednesday, even though at that point in the game he was throwing a 2-hit shutout. The Cubs scoring was provided by an Anthony Rizzo home run, his 31st, hits from Tommy La Stella, Dexter Fowler, Starlin Castro and a single by Rizzo. The lone Brewer run was scored on a home run by Khris Davis in the 7th inning off of Trevor Cahill.

Arrieta’s Final Regular Season Stats

Now that Arrieta’s regular season for the record books is, well, in the books, let’s take a look at some of his numbers.

Arrieta finished with a 22-6 record on the season, the most of any pitcher in Major League Baseball this season, and the only other pitcher to hit 20 wins was Dallas Keuchel, the likely AL Cy Young winner. Arrieta’s earned a final ERA of 1.77, second best in the league behind Zak Greinke. Arrieta finished with 236 strikeouts, which is good for third in the NL. Over the second half of the season, Arrieta’s 0.76 ERA gives him the best second half ERA in the history of major league baseball. Keeping on the history topic, on August 30th, Arrieta threw a no-hitter against the Dodgers. It was the Cubs first since Carlos Zambrano in 2008. Even if Arrieta doesn’t win the Cy Young, he still produced one of the best pitching seasons in Cubs history, and it was a pleasure to witness it.

Wild Card Standings

As you know the Cubs won yesterday, but the Pirates also won in 12 innings over the Reds. With the Cubs still 2 games back, they will have to win both games and the Pirates will have to lose both games. Hope is not completely gone for the Wild Card game being held at Wrigley.

In the AL, there is one spot still up for grabs in the postseason. The Astros are in as of right now, but the Angels are just 1 game back and the Twins are still alive at 2 games back. It’s October baseball, anything can happen.

NL Central Dominance

With the Pirates and Cubs both winning yesterday, it can now be said that the NL Central boasts the 3 best records (well, with ties for now) in baseball for the regular season. If they can take the 3 best records without ties, it will be the first time ever that the 3 best records in baseball will be from teams in the same division.

What’s On Tap?


1954 - Dennis Eckersley is born

1981 - Matt Murton is born

2002 - The ax continues to drop as a total of six managers have been fired since the end of the regular season three days ago. Jerry Royster (Brewers) joins Bobby Valentine (Mets) and Jerry Narron, (Rangers) who were dismissed yesterday as well as Bruce Kimm (Cubs), Luis Pujols (Tigers) and Hal McRae (Devil Rays), who were let go earlier in the week.

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5 Things Cubs Fans Need to Know on October 2

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

1. Game Notes (Cubs win, 5-3)

And with that, a sweep. Somehow this sweep feels insignificant, although there’s still the possibility of moving past the Pirates in the standings. If that happens, next Wednesday’s wild card game could be at Wrigley instead of PNC Park.

Jason Hammel took his start yesterday afternoon through 5 scoreless innings, which was somewhat encouraging, given his struggles in his last start on Saturday against the Pirates. All three of Cincinnati’s runs game against Fernando Rodney in the 7th inning, though none of them were earned runs (so don’t shoot flaming arrows at Rodney just yet). From there, Pedro Strop got his 27th hold of the season and Hector Rondon earned his 29th save.

Kris Bryant had the day off for rest, and Javier Baez played third base in his place and went 2 for 4 (but with 2 strikeouts). Kyle Schwarber played behind the plate for the first time since September 23. His last full game at catcher was on August 31.

Really, the star of the day was Austin Jackson, who hit a three run bomb in the third inning off of Reds starter John Lamb. Jackson is the hot hand right now, as the has had two very phenomenal games in a row.

2. Passing Pittsburgh?

I feel like we’ve been asking this question for a very, very long time, but as the last few opportunities to do so are here, the possibility of actually passing the Pirates in the standings is growing more and more slim. Currently, the Pirates are 2 games ahead of the Cubs going into the final series of the regular season. Basically, the hapless Reds would have to somehow sweep the Pirates and the Cubs need to do the same in Milwaukee this weekend.

The Cubs completing a sweep against the Brewers does seem like a real possibility (which would, by the way put them at 97 wins for the regular season. Just insane), but I have strong doubts that the Pirates will not do the same to the Reds. Cincinnati might be able to take one of this weekend’s games, but that obviously won’t be enough.

3. Wild Card viewing party shut down

Earlier this week, the possibility of Wrigley opening up for a massive one game playoff viewing party was floated, but yesterday the news broke that those plans had been scrapped.

Details are sparse, but the most clear reasoning for this that I found was this:

But Julian Green, Chicago Cubs Vice President of Communication and Community Affairs, said in a statement that the team decided against doing so.

He said the team would not be able to “successfully execute an exceptional guest experience while actively preparing for potential postseason play and home.”

Green said he was confident Cubs fans would find a great place to watch.

This just sounds like they expect to be having games at Wrigley in the NLDS, and they want to ensure that the field is ready for that. In the event that the Cubs won Wednesday’s game, they’d be starting the NLDS on Friday, October 9, but in St. Louis. The first NLDS game that would be at Wrigley wouldn’t happen until Monday, October 12.

4. Arrieta among top pitchers in Cubs history

If Jake Arrieta wins his last start of the regular season today, then he would finish with 22 wins, a mark that hasn’t been reached by a Cubs pitcher since Ferguson Jenkins in 1970 Just for fun, look at Jenkins’ 1971 season – 24 wins, 325 IP, 263 Ks (to give some perspective on how great Clayton Kershaw has been this year, he has 294 strikeouts in 229 innings this year). At 21 wins now, he’s the first Cubs pitcher since Hippo Vaughn in 1919.

If you’re curious, the Cubs all time leader for wins in a season is John Clarkson, who had 53 wins in 1885. He made 70 starts that year, back when it was common for teams to carry just two starters, and he threw 623 innings that season. This is delving into a different topic, though one that I have personal interest in, but Clarkson had a 12 year career in which he pitched over 4,500 innings. Granted, pitchers didn’t throw as hard as pitchers do today, but it leads me to wonder about the treatment of pitchers today and also about what impact throwing that many innings had on pitchers after those careers were over.

5. What’s on tap?

Tonight, the Cubs start their last series of the regular season in Milwaukee with the aforementioned Arrieta on the mound. Arrieta has not lost a decision since July 25 against the Phillies (remember that series, when we thought all was lost?) He has the opportunity to get his ERA below 1.80 tonight as well.

For the Brewers, Ariel Pena (2-0, 3.91) takes the hill. Pena made his major league debut on September 5 against the Reds and this will be his 6th start in the majors.



1932: The Yankees win their 12th consecutive World Series game and sweep the Fall Classic for the third time. At Wrigley Field, the Bronx Bombers bang out 19 hits as they club the Cubs, 13-6.

1940: The Sullivans become the first father and son to have played in a World Series when Billy Jr. is the Tigers backstop in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Crosley Field. The Detroit catcher’s dad, Bill Sr., appeared in the postseason in 1906, playing the same position for the White Sox when he went 0-for-21 in the Hitless Wonders’ six-game triumph over the Cubs.

1952: Carl Erskine strikes out 14 Yankees in Game 3 to establish a new World Series mark. The Dodger hurler’s performance bests the record of A’s Howard Ehmke, who struck out 13 Cubs in Game 1 of 1929 Fall Classic.

2001:  Slugging Sammy Sosa becomes the first player in baseball history to slug 60 home runs in three seasons. The Cubs’ outfielder connects off Reds starter Lance Davis to reach the milestone.

2006: Chicago’s veep and GM Jim Hendry announces that the Cubs have declined to renew Dusty Baker‘s contract to return as the team’s manager. During his 4-year reign in the northside dugout, the 57-year old skipper compiled a 322-326 record, including a 66-96 NL worst record last season.

2012: In a matchup of 100-loss teams, only the second occurrence in major league history, the Astros (55-105) beat the Cubs (60-100) at Wrigley Field, 3-0. In 1962, the woeful 58-101 Chicago club played host to the expansion Mets, sporting a 39-118 record en route to setting the all-time modern era record for futility.


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GirlieView (10/01/2015)

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely 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 2015 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.


  • Blame genetics or the deity of your choice.
  • The Castro hate is so tired and old.
  • History (and playoff format) says 50% of wild card teams go home after one game.
  • I don’t know any of them well enough to assess their lay ability, but I would give a nod toward Cindy Sandberg.
  • Question about Hendricks for those of you smarter than me – What the heck is wrong with him?
  • I think you meant to say: “What the Sam Heck?”
  • Mr. Heck told me never to use his first name…
  • Did I mention I know a kid named Sam Heck?
  • Actually, his name is Sam Hell, but they made him change it to Heck because of the “rules of the blog”
  • We have the talent out there, but there is an old expression about chains and weakest links…and there is not a better example of that in sports than a bullpen.
  • It has been a solid 7 years since September baseball was so important.
  • Before we get to the five things, I wanted to take a minute and thank everyone for reading this blog. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and we don’t do enough to say thank you. I could try to come up with something witty and try for a Lizzie, but instead I truly want to say thank you.
  • Lester picked a guy off and actually threw to first! If nothing else good happened in this game, that was epic.
  • So, what’s the strategy? Arietta, Lester and pray for rain?
  • I might not be opposed to the idea of a “bullpen game” in between starts from Lester and Arrieta in a playoff series.
  • Doc and Len Kasper are now forever linked in my mind.
  • Playing conventionally has not exactly reaped great rewards for the past century or so.
  • Where is our morning fix? That afternoon quickie has worn off already.
  • I have more trust in Travis Wood than Hammel, Hendricks or Haren at this point.
  • The sweet mystery of youth – swing for the fences when a base hit will do…
  • For any of you who want to see Castro get traded, Castro’s AB’s are much better than Soler’s and Baez, the rookies still have to learn patience and pitch recognition. Down and away slider and they are done.
  • People complain Lester doesn’t get much run support when he pitches – that’s because he can’t hit and neither can Ross. It’s hard to score runs when you have two automatic outs in the lineup.
  • “Ross has picked off 4 base runners this year, that can be very helpful in post season play.” Blah blah, so can getting hits be helpful.
  • I’d leave Soler off, too. He hasn’t learned situational hitting and in the playoffs brains matter.
  • The question thus becomes “would you rather play 1 game against the Pirates and a best-of-five against the Cardinals or 1 game against the Cardinals and a best-of-five against the Pirates?”
  • Just the thought of the Cubs eliminating the Cardinals in post season play whether it be the wild card game or divisional series gives me the goose bumps.
  • I like the idea of keeping both Baez and Castro, and running out all of the bats with Bryant in RF.
  • back in 08 while broadcasting the Cubs Dojers playoff series they kept hoping for Michael Jordan to appear in some form or fashion so they could talk about someone they actually know.
  • The part of me that I’m less proud of is already bracing myself for the inevitable excuses that will come from some members of the Cardinals fanbase when they falter in the playoffs, which I expect that they will.
  • The perfect hitter’s response – anticipating what the pitcher might do, and just trying to make solid contact. He’s not trying to end the game – he’s trying to hit the ball hard…get on base, maybe shoot a gap…
  • I wonder where we’d be if Dale Sveum or Ricky Renteria were still managing the Cubs?
  • Watching preseason hockey.
  • I think there were 5 fans left in the stadium after the rain delay.


  • just focus on enjoying the fact that we’re in, and few of us expected to be.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout out to Kac for his first 2015 Season Lizzie!!!! Thanks for being here!


  • Congratulations to Doc Raker, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go Doc!

Top 10 of the 2015 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Eddie von White
2. Doc Raker
3. Seymour Butts
4. jswanson
5. Joe Aiello
6. Sherm
7. Doug S.
8. Jedi
9. Dork
9. Jared Wyllys
10. Bryan

Chit Chat

  • Construct your Wild Card Playoff Game lineup!
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5 Things a Cubs Fan Needs to Know On October 1

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Game Notes

The Cubs took care of business again last night against Cincinnati, this time winning 10-3. Jon Lester produced a quality start in his last appearance of the regular season. Lester went 8 innings allowing 3 hits and 1 earned run, along with 9 strikeouts and 0 walks. The offensive stars of the game were Austin Jackson and Starlin Castro. Jackson hit 2 doubles and collected 5 RBI’s. Castro went 4-5 and hit his 11th home run of the season. Castro also made an amazing diving stop, which earned some applause even from the opposing players. The win brought the Cubs to 93 wins on the season and kept them within 2 ½ games behind Pittsburgh.

Playoff Update

The Cardinals and Pirates split yesterday’s double-header, which caused the top of the NL Central to stay relatively the same as the day before. Elsewhere in baseball, the Astros reclaimed their spot in the second wild card over the Angels. Since the NL playoff spots are basically already locked, the AL playoff race is a little more interesting. If the season ended today, the Astros and Yankees would play in the wild card game at Yankee Stadium, the Blue Jays would face the winner, and the Royals and Rangers would play in the other division series.

Random Stats To Make Us Happy

With 4 games left in the season, Kris Bryant is 10th in all of major league baseball in WAR, even above Anthony Rizzo. Now that is how you show your worth. Also Addison Russell is 8 in the National League in pitches per at-bat. That is a stat that you love to see from a young player who can be so mentored.

Rizzo Honored With Award

Rizzo was honored with the Heart and Hustle award. He is well known for his charity work and of course the passion he plays baseball with. Rizzo spend a lot of time and money on cancer research. Needless to say, he is most definitely deserving of such a great award.

What’s On Tap

Today is the last game of the series against Cincinnati before ending the season in Milwuakee. Jason Hammel is slated to start tomorrow against John Lamb of the Reds. A win would be great to continue putting pressure on Pittsburgh for that first wild card spot. Don’t forget, the Cubs own the tiebreaker with the Pirates.

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