When is small sample size no longer a small sample size? After last night’s 7-1 complete-game victory over the Reds, Cole Hamels has now pitched 34 innings with the Cubs since the July trade with the Rangers. Hamels is 4-0 (the Cubs have won every game he has started), has allowed three earned runs, and has been worth nearly two wins above replacement.
Justin Verlander had 5 starts with the Astros last season after being acquired at the end of August. Let’s compare the two pitchers, as the old man would say, “cannon balls to cannon balls.”
Suffice to say, Hamels has been just as big an acquisition for the Cubs this season as Verlander was for the Astros in 2017. Reader and commenter Vegas Jack said as much at the time of the trade and I gotta give props when props are due. Time will tell if the Cubs’ new ace will be just as effective once the playoffs start.
Here’s a scary thought: Without Hamels, it is certainly conceivable that the Cubs could be trailing both the Cardinals and the Brewers in the Central Division right now. He has truly been the team’s stopper this month.
Cubs News & Notes
Javier Baez hit a home run last night that is probably still traveling.
481 Ft, 110.5 MPH JAVY ? pic.twitter.com/Lm1p9xepIF
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) August 24, 2018
Kris Bryant will take “a heavy day of batting practice” on Friday, according to Bruce Levine.
With the acquisition of Daniel Murphy, the Cubs will have the best position flexibility in all of baseball when their roster is fully healthy. And for those who are worried that David Bote may not be part of the playoff roster, remember that the team will only carry four starting pitchers. Assuming Maddon goes with Hamels, Lester, Hendricks, and Quintana, you figure Bote should secure a roster spot. The bigger question is who starts in Game 1? Right now I’d have to choose Hamels.
Though Yu Darvish will not pitch again this season, he’s at least relieved to finally know what’s wrong and can work to prepare for the 2019 season. He can close the book on 2018 with a 1-3 record and 4.95 ERA.
The Cubs announced that Alec Mills will start Friday’s game against the Reds. The team also recalled relief pitcher Dillon Maples. Tyler Chatwood was placed on the 10-Day DL with hip inflammation.
Brandon Morrrow may be dealing with a stress reaction. Manager Joe Madden seems to have confidence in relievers Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler, but a healthy Morrow could really shorten games down the stretch and in the playoffs. Last year, the Cubs staff was completely taxed in the NLCS vs. the Dodgers.
Matt Harvey was claimed as he passed through waivers and it is believed the Cubs are not the team that claimed him. We’ll find out sometime today who grabbed him. My guess would be the Brewers or Cardinals. Harvey is scheduled to pitch against the Cubs today if he is not moved.
ESPN announcer Chris Fowler says he got into broadcasting because of the Cubs and Blackhawks.
How About That!
Ronald Acuña Jr. now has 10 home runs this month, the most in baseball. He’s the first 20-year-old to hit 10 home runs in a calendar month since Mike Trout in July 2012 (also 10).
In what is being dubbed as MLB’s Day of Aces, the following pitchers provided dominant performances: Hamels, Aaron Nola, Max Scherzer, and David Price. Madison Bumgarner, Kyle Freeland, Sean Newcomb and Matt Boyd had very strong starts as well.
Nola made his Cy Young statement by outdueling Scherzer in the Phillies’ 2-0 win over the Nationals.
David Price is all kinds of locked in right now. He entered yesterday’s game with a 1.35 ERA in his last five starts and then proceeded to shutout the Indians. The Red Sox are back to an MLB-best 51 games over .500, a 162-game pace of 113 wins. The franchise record is 105 wins. Boston needs to go 16-17 the rest of the way to break that record.
At least one person believes the surging Cardinals are a The Cubs’ odds are 7-to-1, best in the National League.. I’m not buying it. Their current 17-4 streak is unsustainable, though Sportsline now has the Cardinals with a 73.3 percent chance of playing in the postseason and 16-to-1 chance to reach the World Series.
After having already trading two players this week, the Nationals have gotten SP Gio Gonzalez, C Matt Wieters, and 1B Ryan Zimmerman through waivers.
San Francisco Giants pitcher Derek Holland has apologized for acting in an insensitive way during an interview on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk on Wednesday.
White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech made his big league debut on Tuesday night. This afternoon he participated in what has become a different rite of passage for young big leaguers: apologizing for racist and homophobic tweets he made as a teenager.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Aaron Nola – the emerging Cy Young candidate struck out nine Nationals against just a single walk and five hits in the Phillies’ 2-0 win over the Nationals.
- David Price – The Red Sox No. 2 starter scattered three singles in a 7-0 win over the Indians. Price allowed no walks and struck out eight Cleveland batters in improving to 14-6 on the season.
- Cole Hamels – At times dominant and at times grinding it out, Hamels completed the first game of the year for the Cubs in a 7-1 victory over the Reds, getting seven punch outs in the process.
On Deck Circle
Nickname jerseys will be used for all weekend games!
Best selling nickname jerseys for MLB Players Weekend so far:
1. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs: EL MAGO
2. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox: MOOKIE
3. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels: SHOWTIME
4. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies: CHUCK NAZTY
5. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs: TONY pic.twitter.com/ojNW9BLBxY
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 17, 2018
Though I do not deny that Jacob deGrom is having a spectacular season, it almost feels like his surge in Cy Young popularity is serving partly to justify that wins as a statistic are totally meritless. The latest conspiracy theory from the New York Post indicates that home plate umpires may be shafting the Mets pitcher with an inflated number of called balls and shortened strike zones. If I was voting Cy Young right now my top three choices would be Scherzer, deGrom and Nola. With five weeks remaining in the season, Scherzer is clearly most deserving.
Here’s how their full-season lines look now:
- deGrom is 8-8 with a 1.71 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 214 strikeouts in 174 innings.
- Scherzer is 16-6 with a 2.13 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 244 strikeouts in 181 2/3 innings.
- Nola is 15-3 with a 2.13 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 169 strikeouts in 169 innings.
They Said It
- “Fans give you that extra boost.” – Cole Hamels
- “Until the diagnosis, there was some time I thought it could be my mental side because there was an unknown factor.”With the diagnosis, I’m relieved to know what that something was.” – Yu Darvish
- “There were hard lessons in what being a sports fan entails. In ’69, I’m 7. So one of my first sports memories was just like being gutted, and I still hate the Mets. The Hawks lose the Stanley Cup final (in ’71) … and I cried myself to sleep. You learn what it’s like to be a fan. You take your lumps. Most of the time your team doesn’t win; when it does, it’s really, really sweet. I can tell you there’s nothing much sweeter than finally being able to see the Cubs win a World Series.” – Chris Fowler
Friday Walk Up Song
Belly of the Whale by Burning Sensations. Ending the week with another obscure 80’s song.