Once again Jason Hammel was brilliant in six innings of work for the Cubs as they held on to beat the Marlins 3-2. Hammel thought he could have went longer, which is usually the case as he only threw 80 pitches before being lifted for Miguel Montero in the bottom of the 6th (Montero failed). The strike zone was getting worn out by Hammel who finished the night throwing 52 strikes, and just 28 balls. Joe Maddon felt it necessary to pull Hammel in favor of Montero to try and capitalize on a scoring chance against Jose Fernandez, it didn’t work out.
Pedro Strop was ineffective but his stuff was pretty darn good to this uneducated baseball watcher. Strop gave up two runs, only one of them was earned as he was charged with an error on a botched double play ball. It looked like there was a lack of communication between Zobrist and Russell on the play, shortly after that a ball ricocheted off of Strop and into right field for single to score the second run, just odd. Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman shut the door in the eighth and the ninth to secure the victory. Dexter Fowler was in the middle of it all as usual at the plate, he went 3-for-4 with a triple, an RBI, and two runs scored. Willson Contreras also had a stellar night against one of the best in Fernandez, he went 2-for-3 with a walk, and an RBI. The Cubs will go for the sweep tomorrow behind John Lackey, and the Cardinals lost so the NL Central lead swells to nine games.
This one had a familiar feel to it, it felt a lot like the game last night, you know, the one that ended poorly. The result was different tonight, mainly because of the job Adam Warren, and Hector Rondon did out of the bullpen. Kyle Hendricks was so very good tonight, and he was one out away from getting his team into the eighth inning. The final line on Hendricks; 6.2 innings worked, giving up two runs on four hits while walking one, and striking out five,
His counterpart Zack Greinke didn’t fare so well as the Cubs jumped on him early, scoring three times in the first, and never looking back. Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant each had an RBI in the first, a single for Rizzo and a double for Bryant. Miguel Montero pushed the Cubs lead to three with a sacrifice fly, and Zobrist smacked an RBI double in the fourth to close out the scoring.
Great chance for the Cubs to move to 5-1 on the season, and this road trip tomorrow as Jake Arrieta gets the ball.
It wasn’t the desired result for the Cubs but there were plenty of things to like in the Cubs spring training opener today against the Brewers. Travis Wood, Kyle Hendricks, Clayton Richard, Rex Brothers, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Spencer Patton combined to four hit the Brewers while walking one, and striking out thirteen. The bats were slow to get going in this one as the Cubs group of hitters could only push across one run on seven hits. Javier Baez got the start in center today, and struggled in the early going. He played an out (maybe a double) into a triple right off the bat, then one hitter later he dropped a fly ball, it’ll get better.
Some of today’s standouts:
There are plenty of reasons why I love this time of year. The weather is starting to warm up (marginally), spring training is just kicking off, and fantasy baseball is emerging from its off-season hibernation.
If you are in to fantasy baseball then I suggest you keep reading because I will provide some knowledge from one of the best brains in the game, Mr. Bret Sayre from Baseball Prospectus; follow him on twitter @dynastyguru). Bret specifically focuses on dynasty league rankings so you can expect that these rankings were put together with the idea that you might be freezing/keeping these players after this year. Typically that could mean that a player with a better future ahead of him might be more valuable in the long run than a player expected to achieve greater success in 2016. That’s just a heads up as some of you might notice that these rankings could be a little different than your average run of the mill fantasy baseball rankings. Because this is a Cubs blog we are going to focus on where Bret has said Cubs in his rankings, get excited!
** Rankings listed next to player are the positional ranking, not overall player ranking. Notes about the ranking are my own.
2. Kyle Schwarber – All the way up to second, that’s pretty awesome. Obviously a popular topic is whether or not Schwarber will stick at catcher, regardless Schwarber should have eligibility at C heading into this year’s draft. If he does stick at catcher or at least has the eligibility there then his value is through the roof compared to if he was strictly an outfielder. His value would still be high, but you aren’t going to see the numbers he is going to put up from the position behind the plate typically.
14. Miguel Montero – Miggy falls just outside the normal range for your everyday starting catcher (typically top 10-12 are going to be your #1). It’s not a bad value for Miggy as he is still going to get a large amount of playing time in the middle of a lineup that looks to be very dangerous heading into 2016.
31. Willson Contreras – The Cubs number one prospect is getting some love from Bret and looks like someone to target late in drafts because of his future value behind the plate.
2. Anthony Rizzo – Only Paul Goldschmidt ranks ahead of Rizzo which seems reasonable giving how awesome that guy is. I love the ranking for Rizzo and it makes a lot of sense because he seems to be getting better with each season and now sits in the middle of a lineup that is ripe for production for the foreseeable future. Entering his age 26 season Rizzo looks to improve upon some gaudy numbers from last year, (38 doubles, 31 homers, 101 RBI, 17 stolen bases, 78 walks, 94 runs).
23. Dan Vogelbach – I’m not surprised that Vogelbach continues to receive favorable rankings in the dynasty leagues. The big man at first base is a threat across the board but he’ll probably have to find another team to play for in the National League, or move to the American League as first base/DH are his only options.
9. Javier Baez – Baez has always been an intriguing option but this year his value takes a bit of a hit because of the acquisition of Ben Zobrist and the versatile Cubs roster. That doesn’t mean that Baez is void of value, he made improvements to his game last year and has been rumored to play a little CF this year. The more time on the field the better for Baez and his owners moving forward.
18. Ben Zobrist – The newcomer to the Cubs has never really had a ton of value at one position because he is so versatile. Teaming up with Joe Maddon this year means that Zobrist will be utilized to his full potential wherever the Cubs skipper needs him. Because of that I expect him to be in the lineup the majority of time which will give Zobrist plenty of value to be drafted as a utility/bench guy this year.
32. Arismendy Alcantara – Yes, he does still exist! Alcantara has been floating around these lists for a few years and is kind of the forgotten man in the Cubs organization. He still has a World of talent but needs to prove he belongs on the field as the next wave of Cubs prospects are nipping at his heels.
2. Kris Bryant – Depending on what kind of league you play in Bryant might be the number one overall pick. No one in the game can match the pure power that he has, but he comes in on this list right behind Manny Machado. The fact that 2015 could be the bottom of the barrel in terms of production is enough to invest highly in Bryant as the cornerstone of your fantasy franchise.
34. Jeimer Candelario – The thing that has impressed me with Candelario is that he is a prospect that has seen a fair amount of failure only to learn from it and get better. Candelario has made some solid strides in the past year or so which gives him some value moving forward.
4. Addison Russell – I still contend that when it is all said and done Addison Russell might be the best of the bunch when it comes to the recent group of Cubs prospects. Russell does everything well, and flashed brilliance in 2015 before seeing his season end early in the playoffs due to an injury. I see no reason why Russell can’t get better with experience as he has shown the ability to make adjustments through his minor league career.
25. Gleyber Torres – Don’t look now but the Cubs have another shortstop that is making noise in the minors. Torres is the next big thing coming out of the Cubs’ system and he could be ready to make some sort of impact earlier than initially expected as he made it all the way to High-A Myrtle Beach last year as an 18 year old. Torres is definitely a guy that I would have no problem stashing in a minor league spot and waiting to see that investment pay off in a big way.
Once the full outfielder rankings, and pitching rankings are released I will put something similar together for you. Thanks for reading!
Despite losing Adam Wainwright for the season, the Cardinals are off to their best start in basically forever. They are 18-6 on the season, and sit at the top of the NL Central with a 4.5 game lead on the second place Cubs. The Cardinals have won six straight games, and are 11-2 at home, which means they are bound to lose some games! The Cubs come into this series limping on the offensive side of things, not a whole lot is going right at the plate. Despite recent struggles, the Cubs are off to a pretty solid start of their own, and this series is probably the first “big” one of the year as the Cubs would love to split, and hold steady in second place.
- Monday, May 4, 2015 – 7:10 PM CST – CSN Chicago / ESPN
- Tuesday, May 5, 2015 – 7:15 PM CST – WGN TV / MLB Network
- Wednesday, May 6, 2015 – 7:15 PM CST – CSN Chicago
- Thursday, May 7, 2015 – 12:45 PM CST – CSN Chicago
- Game One: Travis Wood (2-1, 3.04) vs. Carlos Martinez (3-0, 1.73)
- Game Two: Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 5.23) vs. Tyler Lyons (0-0, -.–)
- Game Three: Jon Lester (1-2, 4.71) vs. Lance Lynn (1-2, 3.07)
- Game Four: Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.84) vs. John Lackey (1-1, 3.69)
Who is Hot:
- Cardinals: Of course Matt Carpenter is taking it to another level this year, he’s been fantastic. Over his last seven games he’s hitting .360 (9-for-25) with four doubles, a triple, a dinger, five RBI’s, and five walks. Go away.
- Cubs: After a slow start to the year, Miguel Montero is turning it on. Miggy is hitting .467 (7-for-15) over his last four starts with an RBI, and a walk. Would like to see some extra base hits, but he’s squaring it up.
Who is Not:
- Cardinals: Well, it’s only a matter of time before Yadier Molina starts coming up with big hits, it’s usually against the Cubs. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, the aging backstop is struggling, he’s hitting .111 (3-for-27) in his last seven with only two strikeouts, the BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is getting him.
- Cubs: It was probably a matter of time before Kris Bryant cooled down, he wasn’t going to hit .400 this year contrary to many reports from fans. Bryant is hitting .190 (4-for-21) over his last six with four walks, and ten strikeouts.
Well, that was fast, under two and a half hours roughly. Jason Hammel was outstanding tonight as he completely shut down the Pirates from the first pitch as the Cubs took the series opener, 4-0. Hammel went eight shutout innings, and was never really in trouble as he only allowed four base runners, all hits, no walks. The Cubs got their runs from likely sources, Anthony Rizzo drove in two runs as did Kris Bryant. All four runs were driven in with two outs, you can’t really measure how important those hits are. With the shutout win the Cubs have now won three straight, and have improved to 11-7 on the year, mighty impressive.
At the Plate:
- Dexter Fowler got things going from the lead-off spot again, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored.
- Jorge Soler broke out of his recent slump, he was 2-for-4 with a double, and a run scored.
- Anthony Rizzo continues to be a machine, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Kris Bryant is racking up the RBI’s, he was 2-for-4 with two RBI’s in this one, and he has knocked in nine so far this year.
- Miguel Montero, Starlin Castro, and Addison Russell all had one hit in the win.
On the Mound:
- Hammel Time! Jason Hammel was stellar, he worked eight shutout innings, giving up four hits, he didn’t walk anybody, and struck out seven.
- Pedro Strop shut the door in an uneventful ninth, he worked a scoreless inning while striking out one.
The Padres come to town for a three game set this weekend, and look who will great them…. KRIS BRYANT!! That’s right, it’s Bryant time on the Northside as the phenom will make hi major league debut today. Both teams come into this series playing solid baseball as the Padres sit at 6-4 on the season and just took two out of three from the Diamondbacks. The Cubs have played one of the toughest schedules in baseball, and have yet to lose a series, the Padres are another great test.
- Friday, April 17, 2015 – 1:20 PM – ABC 7 Chicago
- Saturday, April 18, 2015 – 1:20 PM CST – CSN Chicago
- Sunday, April 19, 2015 – 1:20 PM CST – WGN 9 Chicago
- Game One: Jason Hammel (1-0, 4.50) vs. James Shields (1-0, 2.08)
- Game Two: Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 10.38) vs. Tyson Ross (1-0, 3.75)
- Game Three: Jon Lester (0-1, 7.84) vs. Andrew Cashner (0-2, 4.09)
Who is Hot:
- Padres: Newcomer Justin Upton is paying dividends right away for the Padres. Over the last seven games Upton has been unreal, he’s hitting .450 (9-for-20) with a double, two dingers, and four RBI’s.
- Cubs: The Cubs are starting to swing the bats much better, and it’s Jorge Soler leading the charge. Soler has been pounding the ball as of late, he’s hitting .360 (8-for-22) over his last seven games, during that span he has two dingers, and seven RBI’s with an OPS of 1.081, loud noises!
Who is Not:
- Padres: Jedd Gyorko is still terrible, sorry. Gyorko has been really bad again this year, and he’s only hitting .091 (1-for-11) over his last seven games with zero walks, and four strikeouts.
- Cubs: Miguel Montero is still looking for some solid footing on his new club as he has struggled out of the gate. Montero is hitting .143 (2-for-14) over his last seven games with just two RBI’s.