Cubs Lose Jake Arrieta’s Start

The Chicago Cubs finished their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 2nd. The Cubs won three out of the four games against the Dodgers, but failed to take advantage of a Jake Arietta start in their one loss. Arrieta went seven innings giving up no runs.

The Cubs lost the game in the last two innings. After seven innings, the game was scoreless, but two runs were scored off pitcher Clayton Richard in the eighth and three runs were scored off pitcher Adam Warren in the ninth.  The Cubs lost 5-0.

The last time the Cubs lost a game when Jake Arrieta started a game was in July of 2015. The game was officially a no-decision for Arrieta so it didn’t affect his win-loss record.

On June 5th, however, The Arizona Diamondbacks managed to put up three runs on Arrieta. The Cubs offense only managed to put up two runs in that game. The final score was 3-2, giving Arrieta his first loss in eleven months.

Best Rotation in the MLB?

As of June 4th, the five starters of the Cubs rotation all have an ERA under three. John Lackey has a 2.88 ERA, which is the best among starters. The average ERA of the five starters is 2.55, the best statistically in the MLB as of June 4th.

Hot Streak

The Cubs have won ten of their last twelve games as of June 5th. This comes after the Cubs had lost eight of twelve at one point in May. The Cubs are hitting especially well in their current stretch.

The home run ball has especially helped the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo hit one out to right field on the on June 4th and Kris Bryant has hit 400-foot home runs on consecutive days this past week. Dexter Fowler recently hit his 3rd leadoff home run.

Fowler has been especially good against opposing fastballs. According to an infographic posted on Inside Edge’s twitter account, Fowler has a .405 batting average when a fastball is thrown to him. Five of his home runs have also come off fastballs.

Looking for Relievers?

According an article published by ESPN’s MLB Rumor Central, the Cubs are possibly looking for a lefty reliever on the trade market. The news come in the wake of Clayton Richard’s struggles. Richard has an 8.00 ERA in sixteen appearances as of June 3rd.

The article specifically mentions Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller of the New York Yankees as trade targets for the Cubs. The Cubs have recently done business with the Yankees, trading Starlin Castro this past winter. The Cubs got Adam Warren in return, who has a 2.75 ERA as of June 5th.

Will the Yankees will be willing to trade one of their relievers? It is not guaranteed. The Yankees are currently six games back of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but could improve their standing as the summer goes on. It is too early in the year for the Yankees to give up hope on the postseason.

Week Five In The MLB: Chicago Cubs

It is now week five of the MLB season and The Chicago Cubs are still garnering serious interest across the league. In addition to their recent success, a few developments have recently come out of The North Side.

Recent Results

The Chicago Cubs still lead the overall standings at 25-8 and a .781 winning percentage. The team is still the number one team on ESPN’s weekly power rankings.

At their current pace, the Cubs can win 126 games to go 126-36. According to newsday.com, that record would beat by the next best all-time record, set by the 1906 Chicago Cubs who went 116-36, by ten games.

Despite being the best team in the game, the Chicago Cubs have shown signs of weakness recently. On March 11th, the Cubs lost a doubleheader to the San Diego Padres, a team that most of the baseball world would consider inferior to the star studded Cubs.

The Cubs lost 7-4 in the first game and 1-0 in the second game. Usually the Cubs have no problem putting up runs, but only scored five on Wednesday.

This doubleheader comes on the heels of a four game sweep of the Washington Nationals, one of the best teams in the league.  The Cubs actively avoided Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, walking him repeatedly throughout the four game series, but managed to limit his effectiveness on the bases with solid defense.

The Cubs will play division rival Pittsburg on Friday. As of May 12th, the Cubs lead the Pirates, who are second in the NL Central, by seven games, the largest gap in the MLB.

Extension for Arrieta?

The contract for Cubs ace Jake Arrieta is set to expire after next year. He will be a free agent after the 2017 season if an agreement between Arrieta and the Cubs front office is met.

Arrieta’s 1.13 ERA is the best in the league and he has entered the discussion for best pitcher in the MLB. If he does manage to become a free agent somehow, it will be difficult to replace his production.

How much it will cost to keep Arrieta at Wrigley field is unknown, but according to several sources, he is not willing to take a discount to stay with the Cubs. For reference, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg recently received a 7-year, 175-million-dollar contract.  Arrieta believes that he is worth more than Strasburg, but how much more?

No Extension For Theo, Yet

The architect behind the Chicago Cubs ascension, Theo Epstein is in the final year his contract. Epstein would be a great pickup for any team’s front office, but he is not expected to leave Chicago anytime soon.

According to CSN Chicago, Epstein believes his contract situation is a nonissue and Patrick Mooney that the players deserve to get paid first. Epstein specifically mentioned Arrieta as someone who should be a new deal before he does.

Cross Town Classic World Series?

The Cubs have the best record in the MLB, but closely behind them is their cross town rival The White Sox. The Sox are currently sitting atop the AL Central at 23-12, the 2nd best overall record in the MLB. The Sox are somewhat of a surprise are finishing 76-86 in 2015.

Just like the Cubs, the Sox have relied on the solid top three pitchers in their rotation. Chris Sale is the team’s ace. He and Jose Quintana have and ERA under 2.00. Signed in the offseason, Mat Latos has been a solid addition to the team posting a 3.40.

While both teams are very good, it is highly improbable that both will make the World Series next fall. If they do both make it, however, it would be the first time that the two teams have played against each other in the World Series since 1906, the year the Cubs posted their 116-36 record. The Sox won the series that year.

Going Forward From Here

The Cubs have only played 32 games. They still have another 130 to go. They must keep winning consistently to have a shot at the postseason. It is far too early to guarantee anyone a playoff spot.

The Cubs biggest free agent addition, Jason Heyward, has .216 average this season. Heyward has started out slow and has done so they past few years. Each time he has been able to get out of the slump. He hasn’t needed to produce superstar numbers yet, but it probably hurt the Cubs if he did.

The Cubs don’t need improvement in any one area on the diamond. They’re the best team in baseball right now and just need to keep winning. More importantly, they need to win come October when the playoffs start.

Chicago Cubs Early Season Recap

The Cubs are now 25 games into their regular season and with their most recent win, a 7-1 win over the Pittsburg Pirates, have improved their overall record to 19-6 which is still good enough for best in the Major League.

Once again showing his magic on the mound was Jake Arrieta. Pitching seven shutout innings and allowing only two hits against the Pirates, Arrieta once again dominated. This has become the norm for Arrieta even against superb competition like the Pirates who are the 5th best team in ESPN’s most recent power rankings.

It’s not just Arrieta that’s having a great season so far. Several Cubs players have contributed to the team’s success.

 

Pitching

The Cubs rotation is among the best in the league. Lead by Cy Young Winning Pitcher Jake Arrieta, Cubs starters have a combined 16-4 record. After their win against the Pirates on May 3rd, Arrieta now leads the league in wins for a starting pitcher along with Chicago White Sox’s Pitcher Chris Sale.

In addition to Arrieta, starters Jon Lester and Jason Hammel have an era below 2.00. Only John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks have ERAs above that mark, 4.32 and 3.52 respectively. Hendricks is the only Cubs’s starter with a losing record at 1-2.

The relievers are also performing at high level. Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Travis Wood, and Adam Warren have ERAs below 2.00. Trevor Cahill, who helped seal the victory against the Pirates has a 3.86 ERA.

The only Cubs pitcher with an ERA above 5.00 is Clayton Richard at 6.75.

 

Offense

The Cubs are loaded with offensive talent. Dexter Fowler is currently leading the regular starters with a .352 average, 31 hits, and a .473 on base percentage. Given a one-year deal in the offseason after searching for a long term deal in the open market, Fowler is proving his worth.

Anthony Rizzo normally has a higher average than his current .242, but he now has sole possession of 1st place in the RBI standings with 26. Rizzo also leads the team in home runs with 8.

Former Rookie of the year Kris Bryant is hitting above .300 again after Tuesday’s game. He also has 17 RBIs and I second on the team in hits at 29.

Free agent acquisitions Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist are hitting .211 and .253 respectively. While Heyward is not performing poorly, his number are down from last season’s career highs with the Cardinals.

 

Coaching

Not much needs to be said here. Joe Maddon is one of the best coaches in baseball and was the National League Coach of the year in 2015.

 

Fielding

Out of 27 qualifying players, 18 Cubs’ fielders have a 1.000 fielding percentage, and another 5 have at least a .900 average. Only Adam Warren hasa fielding average below .700.

 

Injuries

In the third game of the year, the Cubs lost outfielder and catcher Kyle Schwarber to a season ending leg injury. Since then the Cubs have not missed a beat and continue to be a powerhouse without the young phenom.

More recently, Jason Heyward is dealing with a wrist injury. According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs are hopeful that Heyward can be back in the lineup Wednesday May 4th in the series finale against the Pirates.

Matt Szczur is also injuried. Gonzles is reporting that Szczur has a right hamstring injury and has been put on the 15-day disabled list. His temporary replacement on the Cubs roster is Ryan Kalish.

 

Expectations

The Cubs are considered the best team in Major League Baseball. Going forward they have to keep winning in order to keep steady in the rankings. After finishing their series with the Pirates, the Cubs will travel back to Wrigley Field and face the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are currently 18-7 and are the number 2 team in the ESPN power rankings. The Nationals should be a good test for the Cubs and a means to test expectations going forward.

 

Pirates vs. Cubs: What You Need to Know for the NL Wild Card

(Photo Courtesy of sports mockery.com) 

Two teams. One with 98 wins. One with 97. Yes, believe it or not, this is a Wild Card matchup. At the beginning of this long Major League Baseball season, it may have been a common prediction to see two teams out of the NL Central playing in the Wild Card game. But honestly, who would have thought that these teams would own the 2nd and 3rd best record in all of the majors? Thank the St. Louis Cardinals for that.

In their third straight year in the postseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates are emerging as a regular contender amongst the league after a 20 season drought. This isn’t new to them anymore. Chicago, on the other hand, who regularly competed with Pittsburgh for the bottom spot in the NL Central standings, haven’t been to the dance since 2008, where they were swept in the NLDS by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Back in 2013, this was Pittsburgh. As they emerged into the postseason for the first time since Sid Bream was safe at the plate in the 1992 NLCS, they were the team with young talent ready to make some noise. Now in their third straight do-or-die Wild Card game, this is familiar territory. Now it’s Chicago who is rolling into the postseason on a hot streak with a plethora of young talent.

This game has generated an immaculate amount of anticipation. I know I can’t wait. Pirates Center Fielder Andrew McCutchen took to The Players’ Tribune to ignite energy into the entire city of Pittsburgh on Tuesday. In a heart-throbbing essay, McCutchen explains what it’s like to play in front of a sold out crowd in an MLB Playoff game. This included mention of Russell Martin’s 2013 homer off of Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, after a consenual “CUUEETTTOO” chant that filled PNC Park. He also called upon his fans to fill up the park with energy come tonight:

“It feels like Christmas Eve already. I don’t want to be able to hear myself think, Pittsburgh.”

Talk about a pump up speech.

Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta also pulled something out of his sleeve to give his crowd a boast. He took to Twitter to respond to a Pirates’ parody account, who warned Arrieta of the environment he and the Chicago Cubs were about to enter, engaging in some friendly trash talk. What Arrieta said certainly should have got some Cubs fans excited, and is something he’s earned the right to say.

 

Yeah, he went there.

Currently in a 107 year World Series drought, it only seems fitting that the Chicago Cubs are ready to make a deep run.

What will it take?

What will it take for the Pittsburgh Pirates to avenge last year’s NL Wild Card loss to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants, who just so happened to become World Series champions?

The Case for the Cubs

Well, we all know who is on the mount tonight. That’s right, Jake Arrieta. Posting 22 wins and hotter than any pitcher since the All-Star break, he is as good of a CY Young candidate as any. Arrieta will get the rock tonight, as he has posted a 0.75 ERA since the mid-summer classic and 1.77 ERA for the year. Those numbers haven’t changed a bit against the Buccos, as he has gone 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA against them this season. Did I mention the beard too? That thing is in tip top shape.

Alongside Arrieta’s dominance, Chicago has found much success out of its young talent. Kris Bryant, NL ROY candidate, has been nothing short of outstanding since his emergence into the league on Opening Day. Bryant has posted a solid .275 batting average, drove in 99 runs, and has homered 26 times on the season. A stat line like that on your rookie campaign doesn’t get too much better than that. He also has not treated Pittsburgh very kindly, posting a .400 batting average as well as driving in 15 runs and drawing 13 walks in 70 at bats.

Anthony Rizzo, a bit more experienced than Bryant, is also another young talent who has come up big this season. He has hit .278, sent 31 baseballs over the fence, and drove in 101 runs this season (3rd NL). Not too shabby. With this combination of balance and power, the meat of Chicago’s lineup is a force to be reckoned with. Starlin Castro has provided a consistent bat in the Cubs’ lineup, and the maturing rookie Addison Russell has provided stability in the field and at the plate.

As for veteran support, the Cubs don’t have all that much. At the plate, outfielder Dexter Fowler has provided some depth in the Chicago lineup, as he batted .250, hit 29 doubles, while even having stolen 20 bases in the process. On the mound, Jon Lester, who lost the ace role to the great Arrieta, gives veteran leadership to the pitching staff. He fanned 207 batters and posted a solid 3.34 ERA this season.

As most people predict this to be a low scoring game, I feel no differently. If Jake Arrieta is Jake Arrieta, and if Gerrit Cole is Gerrit Cole, this will be a defensive, nail-biting dog fight. For Chicago to take this game, they will need to get ahead and get ahead early, as they will be able to continue their reliance on Arrieta. If they can knock in 3 runs in the first 6 innings on Cole, this should triumph Chicago to victory.

The Case for the Pirates

Jake Arrieta this. Jake Arrieta that. That has all the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans have been hearing this week. Well, yeah. He’s good. But you know who else is good? You guessed it, Gerrit Cole. Cole has been pitching in Arrieta’s shadow for most of the season, but has been nothing short of incredible, which would certainly be a CY Young contending season in any other year but this one. Cole has posted 19 wins (2nd NL), a 2.60 ERA (5th NL), and 202 strikeouts. With an outstanding fastball-slider combination, Cole has dominated hitters this year. Not to mention, throughout his career, the Pittsburgh Pirates have come out victorious in 8 of the 9 times Cole has started the game against the Cubs.

Ah, what’s next? That’s right, the man who is responsible for almost single handedly saving the Pittsburgh Pirates’ franchise. Andrew McCutchen. In what many saw as a down year for Cutch, he still produced solid numbers. A .292 batting average, 96 RBIs, and 23 home runs is nothing to mince about. This team fuels on McCutchen’s leadership and energy, and the whole city of Pittsburgh, including the teammates, are excited more than ever to play this game due to his article in The Players’ Tribune.

The Pirates have also gained moral support from newly acquired catcher Francisco Cervilli (.295 BA), the speedy Starling Marte, Neil Walker, and mid-season acquisition Aramis Ramirez, who began his career in Pittsburgh. Since the season-ending knee injury to Jung Ho Kang, the Pirates have missed him dearly. Thankfully for the Pirates, the depth in their batting lineup have picked up the slack.

What about the bullpen, you might ask? Well, I figured I’d save the best for last. With a Major League leading and franchise record 51 saves this year, Mark Melancon has led the charge in a Pirates’ bullpen that has been stout all year. In fact, they have posted a major league leading bullpen ERA at 2.67, which compares very favorably to Chicago’s 3.38 reliever ERA.

So yeah, low scoring game. What does that mean for Gerrit Cole? Well, I think it’s going to take 6+ innings with one run or less to get past Arieta, and to then dive into that outstanding bullpen. A lot to ask from your pitcher, isn’t it? Who better though, than Gerrit Cole? Cole thrives in these situations, and if he comes through, so will his team. It may be hard to string together multiple hits against Arrieta, but if Cole can keep his team in the game, the Pirates can get the Cubs’ ace out of the ball game and win it late.

So, Who Wins?

This really is a toss up. There are a lot of experts out there who predict the winner of this game to meet the AL champion in the World Series. A bold call, but certainly fair. I’m going to have to go about half-head, half-heart on this one. My favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, will prevail. With 2 previous years under their belt, they know how and how not to win a wild card game. Expect PNC Park to be as rowdy as ever. Gerrit Cole will execute, but so will Arrieta. This comes down to who makes one more mistake, and I think the young, inexperienced Cubs will be that team on the big stage. I think this ball game ends 3-1 in favor of the home team in a game to remember.

SuperStarTickets

Finish Line

Jake Arrieta: The Unlikely MVP of the Cubs

On Sunday night in Los Angeles, Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs tossed a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out twelve batters and walked only one in the game. It was the second time in two weeks that the Dodgers were no-hit. Right now, the Dodgers and Cubs are both in position to make the playoffs. The Dodgers lead the NL West while the Cubs are currently in control of the second wildcard spot in the NL. The Dodgers making the playoffs wouldn’t surprise anyone, as it would be the third straight year they’ve done so. The Cubs, however, haven’t made the playoffs since 2008. If the Cubs do hang on to the second wildcard spot and make the playoffs for the first time in seven years, Jake Arrieta will be a major reason why.

Arrieta’s no-hitter was the high point of what’s been the best year of his career. The six-foot, four-inch righty hasn’t just been the best pitcher on the Cubs, he’s been their overall team MVP. When the Cubs signed veteran lefty Jon Lester in the offseason, many expected him to take over as the ace of the Cubs pitching staff. However, it’s been Arrieta, not Lester, who’s pitched like an ace.

Lester hasn’t been the ace that the Cubs expected him to be. In 26 starts, he’s 8-10 with an ERA of 3.59. He hasn’t been the same pitcher that he was in Boston for almost a decade. Arrieta has had a much better season than Lester. In 27 starts, Arrieta is 17-6 with a 2.11 ERA. His 17 wins lead the NL, while his ERA is second best in the league. Only Zack Greinke has a better ERA. Greinke is the favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award right now, but Arrieta isn’t too far behind him. Looking at his numbers, it’s easy to see why.

Interestingly enough, Arrieta has been a pitcher who emerged later in his career. Originally drafted by the Orioles, he never really had success in Baltimore. Over the course of three-and-a-half seasons with the Orioles, Arrieta went 20-25 while posting an ERA of 5.46. In July of 2013, he was traded to the Cubs along with Pedro Strop in exchange for pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger. Looking back on that trade, it’s pretty safe to say that it worked out better for the Cubs than it did for the Orioles. Arrieta had his breakout year last year when he went 10-5 with a career-best 2.53 ERA. He’s having an even better year this year than he did last year.

The Cubs are currently 75-57. When talking about who’s the MVP of a certain team, one should consider where a team would be without a certain player. As great as young third baseman Kris Bryant has been for the Cubs, the team has other players who have had good offensive years such as Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell. The Cubs don’t have another pitcher who’s pitched on the level that Jake Arrieta has. Without him, who knows where they’d be? That’s why he’s the team MVP. The team wouldn’t be in as good of a position as they’re in without him.

It looks like the Cubs are going to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. If they do, Arrieta will probably be the pitcher they rely on most. We saw last year how valuable an ace can be in October. If the Cubs are going to make a serious run at winning the World Series, Arrieta will have to be the ace he’s been all season. The Cubs will only go as far as he takes them. We’ll see how he does when the pressure builds. After all, legends are born in October.

http://SportsRants.com

The Cubs Secret Super Hero

(Via www.chicagonow.com)

It’s no secret that the Cubs have been really enjoyable to watch this season. From running out four rookies, to benching Starlin Castro, a player who was thought to be the centerpiece of everything in Chicago for a long time, in favor of young Addison Russell, to the absolutely phenomenal job that Joe Maddon has done with this young squad, the Cubs have been much better than I ever anticipated. (Check out my article from the beginning of the year claiming the Cubs wouldn’t be THAT good) Granted, I still don’t know if the Cubs are World Series ready, but they have highly impressed me over the span of the 2015 season.

With everything that has gone on with the thrill of the Cubbies emergence this season, one man has been the best player on the team, despite only playing once every five days.

It’s strange to think that the best player for the Cubs this season could be a starting pitcher, but that, in my opinion, has been the case. This mystery man (who, at this point, isn’t so much of a mystery anymore) happens to be none other than starting pitcher, Jake Arrieta, a man since joining the Cubs pitching staff after three plus uneventful years with the Baltimore Orioles, has been more than sensational for the Cubs over the last two seasons.

Last year, Arrieta broke onto the scene in a big way, winning ten games for a Chicago team that really wasn’t very good. He finished with a 10-5 record, a record that could have seen a much higher win total reached had the Cubs been a better team last season. Seemingly out of nowhere, Arrieta posted a 2.53 ERA last season to go along with a solid 167 strikeouts.

This season, however, has been one for the ages for the 29-year-old right hander from Plano, Texas.

Through his first 24 starts in the 2015 campaign, Arrieta holds a spot among the top pitchers in baseball in several categories, including a tie for first in victories, as the righty has picked up 14 wins thus far.

Along with his 14 wins this season, Arrieta also sits in the top ten in all of baseball in ERA, WAR for pitchers, WHIP and hits per nine innings. What I find possibly the most amazing stat of Arrieta’s season is his 2.39 ERA, which is good enough for sixth in all of MLB. His 162 innings pitched is also good enough for eighth this season, along with his 163 strikeouts to put him in that spot.

So where does that put Arrieta this season? He’s been pretty good thus far, but is he Cy Young worthy? You could argue against it with the likes of Zack Greinke and Jacob deGrom pitching in the National League as well.

It will be a battle for Arrieta to gain votes, maybe even on the simple fact that he’s not the flashy, household name such as Greinke, but in his defense, Jake has been possibly the nicest surprise of this season. That’s not to that I didn’t expect him to pitch well after the season he turned in last year, but it is to say that I wasn’t sure if he’d have similar success in terms of ERA. However, he’s been even better this season, lowering his ERA by nearly .2 points.

Do I think Jake Arrieta will be the eventual Cy Young winner? Probably not. Do I think Jake Arrieta is the newest ace in MLB? Absolutely. If he continues to pitch with the pin point control of his last two seasons, he’ll be a star for years to come.

 

http://SportsRants.com

A League of Their Own – The NL Central

Entering Monday’s play, three of the top four records in baseball reside in the NL Central.

71-40 St. Louis Cardinals

66-44 Kansas City Royals

65-44 Pittsburgh Pirates

62-48 Chicago Cubs

The state of Missouri leads the way in both leagues followed by the two teams chasing the Cardinals in the NL Central. This all comes about after an impressive 7-0 performance by the Cubs and Pirates against the Giants and Dodgers this past weekend. Meanwhile the Cardinals pitchers actually entered Sunday’s game without having allowed a run since the 4th inning last Wednesday against the Reds. Juicy dog days of August stuff which make division races and wild card standings all the more interesting.

THURSDAY – August 6th

The Chicago Cubs began a four game home series against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants Chris Heston had his worst start since the start before his June 9th no hitter by allowing two runs in the first inning and three runs in the second on Kyle Schwarber’s 6th HR of the season. The Brandons, Belt and Crawford, each hit 2-run homers in the contest, but the Cubs held on to win 5-4 to take over the NL’s 2nd wild card spot by a half over San Francisco.

The St. Louis Cardinals shut out the Reds 3-0 behind seven scoreless innings from Michael Wacha. This came one day after not allowing a run to the Reds in the final 9 innings of Wednesday 4-3 13-inning win.

FRIDAY – August 7th

A 5-run fifth inning gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead, but when the game got dicey in the 8th inning. Hector Rondon continued his impressive re-emergence as Cubs closer. He put out the fire by recording the final five outs for the save in a 7-3 win.

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, the NL West leading Dodgers and Pirates kicked off an equally important series. Clayton Kershaw and Gerrit Cole were very average in a game that went to the 10th tied at 4. Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell surrendered a walk off single to the Pirates Pedro Alvarez.

The Cardinals shut out the Milwaukee Brewers 6-0. Lance Lynn had six scoreless innings. Carlos Villanueva had three scoreless frames.

SATURDAY – August 8th

The Matt Cain Experience resulted in him allowing 4+ runs for the fifth time in seven attempts this season. A three run 8th gave the Cubs an 8-3 lead over the Giants, but relievers James Russell and Jason Motte combined to allow three runs in the 9th before Justin Grimm was called upon to record the final out. Hector Rondon was unavailable.

Francisco Liriano was better at the plate than on the mound when he tattooed a 2nd inning pitch from Dodgers trade acquisition Mat Latos. Liriano yielded to 6 innings of Pirates bullpen work which was highlighted by three scoreless innings from Joe Blanton. Closer Mark Melancon allowed a run in the 9th, but the Pirates held on to win 6-5.

The Cardinals shut out the Brewers 3-0. Jaime Garcia logged seven scoreless innings.

SUNDAY – August 9th

The Cubs completed a four game sweep of the Giants when NL Cy Young contender Jake Arrieta, who wasn’t even on the NL All Star team, tossed 7.2 scoreless innings. The Cubs scored single runs in the first and second against Jake Peavy and it was all they needed in their 2-0 win.

Editor’s Note: Top 5 sorted by ERA.

Zack Greinke sits at 11-2 with a 1.71 ERA (2.63 FIP and 4.2 WAR).

Jacob deGrom is 10-6 with a 2.13 ERA (2.65 FIP and 3.9 WAR)

Jake Arrieta is  13-6 with a 2.38 ERA (2.65 FIP and 4.1 WAR).

Gerrit Cole is 14-5 with a 2.39 ERA (2.69 FIP and 3.5 WAR).

Max Scherzer is 11-8 with a 2.44 ERA (2.53 FIP and 5.0 WAR).

Others: Shelby Miller, Clayton Kershaw, and Carlos Martinez

The Dodgers had a 5-3 lead in the 7th when all Jim Johnson broke loose. The man that’s supposed to be bolstering the late innings for the Dodgers allowed 6 hits, hit Jung Ho Kang and walked a batter. All eight batters scored in a nine run inning. The icing on the cake was Kang hitting a two-run homer against Joel Peralta in his second at bat of the inning. Pirates win 13-6.

The Cardinals pitchers finally allowed a run after 38 scoreless innings. The Brewers Elian Herrera and Khris Davis homered against John Lackey in the 3rd inning. Davis added a two-run homer in the 8th to give the Brewers the lead in their 5-4 win.

In conclusion the leaders in the NL West took it on the chin this past weekend. The Dodgers still lead the Giants by 3 games in the NL West, but currently the two wild card teams in the NL would be the Pirates and Cubs. Chicago went from 0.5 game down to 3.5 games up in the Wild Card race with the Giants chasing them. The Cubs actually have as many wins as the division leading Dodgers with one fewer loss.

The Cardinals pitching still has them with a five game lead over the Pirates in the NL Central with the Cubs 8.5 games back and Starlin Castro somewhere buried on the Cubs bench. You’ll need a shovel to find him, the same one that was used to dig a hole for the Giants who are also competing with the Nationals. The Nats are actually closer to first in the NL East (1.5 GB behind the Mets) than they are the 2nd NL Wild Card spot (5 GB).

Fans With Pride

Microsoft Store

Big Fish Games

http://SportsRants.com

Matt Harvey, Gerrit Cole Meeting Spring Training Expectations

(Photo courtesy of USA Today)

Five wins halfway through the second month

Almost halfway through the month of May, Matt Harvey of the New York Mets and Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates are pitching some of the best baseball of all National League starting pitchers.  Both pitchers have displayed a fantastic ability to strike out batters this season, by leaning on a very good fastball to get opposing hitters to start their swings early when they turn to their plus off-speed pitches.  Both pitchers have posted elite walk rates this season, but 26 year old Matt Harvey has been even better so far in this category than 24 year old Gerrit Cole.  With solid peripherals, a significant win total and significant wins above replacement units accumulated so far, both of these starting pitchers are in position to challenge Max Scherzer as the best pitcher in the National League this season.  With neither Matt Harvey or Gerrit Cole having the opportunity to post back to back seasons with elite production in the National League, the start to the 2015 season is significant for each of these young starting pitchers as they look to establish themselves among the league’s elite.  A further look at what each of these young pitchers have been able to do as the ace starters on their teams, will help to determine whether or not they will continue to meet spring training expectations of being Cy Young contenders.

Matt Harvey

After pitching eight scoreless innings against the Cardinals on Monday night, Matt Harvey now has pitched 54 and two-thirds innings through his first eight starts of the season.  This has him averaging nearly seven innings per start, made possible by the efficiency he puts on display with his 0.91 walks plus hits per inning pitched rateBy walking only 1.3 batters per nine innings, Harvey has been able to limit his walks plus hits per inning pitched rate behind his strong strikeout rate of 9.2 per nine inningsWith a ground ball rate of only 41.3 percent this season, Matt Harvey has not had as many opportunities to have double plays turned behind him, but with the Mets not restricting his innings, he has had the opportunity to pitch deep into ballgames in each of his most efficient outings .  All of this adds up to Matt Harvey posting a 1.98 earned runs average through his first eight starts of the season, with peripherals that suggest he can sustain an elite level of pitching throughout the 2015 season.  While maintaining a 1.98 earned runs average over the course of 32 or more starts is extremely difficult, Harvey’s fielding independent numbers suggest he could finish the season with an earned runs average around 2.50, and his 1.6 units of WAR accumulated so far his ranked third in the National League in that category .

Gerrit Cole

Cole registered his second loss of the season with his last outing against the Chicago Cubs, where he allowed two earned runs over six innings pitched at Wrigley Field.  By adding eight strikeouts to his season total, Cole was able to maintain the elite pace he has established in the early going of 2015 where he has averaged just over six innings per start.  Cole’s latest outing has his strikeout total at 53 in 48 and two-thirds innings pitched, for a strikeout rate of 9.8 batters per nine innings pitchedBy posting a walk rate of just 2.4 per nine, to go along with a walks plus hits per inning pitched rate of 1.15, its not surprising that Gerrit Cole has been able to post an earned runs average of 2.40 with a fielding independent number of 2.43With a 5-2 record through 8 starts, and 1.4 units of WAR accumulated so far, Gerrit Cole is in position to establish himself as one of the best starters in the National League in his age 24 season .  Cole has not been quite as impressive as Harvey with his ability to limit walks, but the Pirates young ace is off to a fantastic start to the 2015 season.  With the peripheral stats and fielding independent numbers suggesting that Gerrit Cole is not overachieving, he should be able to challenge for the National League Cy Young award in a season where he is likely to register 200 innings pitched for the first time in his career.

Who ranks higher than these two starters in the National League?

Matt Harvey currently has accumulated the third highest WAR total of all National League starting pitchers which has him tied with Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Harang in the early going.  Max Scherzer at 2.2 WAR and Jake Arrieta at 1.8 WAR are the only National League starters who currently rank ahead of Matt Harvey as teams play out the mid-May portion of the MLB schedule.  Gerrit Cole’s 1.4 WAR ranks sixth in the National League behind the three mentioned above, along with Aaron Harang of the Phillies and Lance Lynn of the Cardinals.  With Scherzer, Arrieta and Harvey as the biggest threats to maintain more productivity than Gerrit Cole throughout the 2015 season, it appears that both these young starters could challenge for the National League Cy Young award.  With Matt Harvey just over a month past his 26th birthday, and Gerrit Cole turning 25 in September, these two dominant right handed starters appear to be candidates to become the faces of MLB’s elite starting pitching in the future.  With both of these starting pitchers missing significant time due to injury last season, baseball has become more interesting in 2015 with these young aces off to dominant starts in healthy campaigns for their teams.

Jacob Time Luxury Watches

Looking for the Best Women's Fitness & Yoga Apparel? Check out our selection at Luna Jai!

Change your body now

http://SportsRants.com