Lester Plays Stopper as Cubs Hang On

Cubs 5-6

Full Box Score

It’s only May 6th, feeling okay?  This series has been a roller coaster of emotions, and tonight we can all breathe a little easier as the Cubs just barely hung on to beat the Cardinals 6-5.  Both teams scored in alternating innings until the eighth when they both pushed across a run.  Jon Lester didn’t do himself any favors as he made an error which led to an unearned run, which was not the only unearned run of the night.  The Cardinals got two more after a two out error by Addison Russell, but Lester battled all night.  The newest ace of the Cubs was able to work through seven strong innings before watching the bullpen shut the door, I wouldn’t say they slammed it, they shut it quietly.  Nice to be out from under that losing streak, and the Cubs can now go for the split tomorrow afternoon.

At the Plate:

  • Chris Coghlan was plugged into the two hole tonight, he did his job by getting on base, he didn’t have any hits but he walked twice.
  • Anthony Rizzo is hunting down the MVP, he was 2-for-4 with his fifth dinger of the year, three RBI’s, and a run scored.
  • Kris Bryant continues to produce, he was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored.
  • Jorge Soler seems to be coming out of his slump, he was 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.
  • Dexter Fowler, Starlin Castro, David Ross, and Addison Russell all chipped in with a hit.

On the Mound:

  • Jon Lester was gritty tonight, he worked seven innings, giving up four runs, one earned, on seven hits while walking two, and striking out six.
  • Pedro Strop had another shaky outing, he worked one inning, giving up one run on one hit while walking one.
  • Hector Rondon walked the tightrope as well, he worked a scoreless ninth for his sixth save of the year.  He surrendered one hit while walking one, and getting one huge strikeout.

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The Cubs, and Starlin Castro Have Fun, How Dare They! (VIDEO)

Starlin Castro could save all the puppies in the World, and someone would still find a problem with it.  Here he is mimicking Kris Bryant tonight against the Cardinals, I laughed, you should too, you know why?  IT’S A GAME.

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Cubs GameDay! May 6, 2015 (Lineup, Broadcast Info, Weather)

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First pitch:  7:15 PM CST
Television:  CSN Chicago
Radio:  WBBM Newsradio 780
Weather:  Sunny, 81 degrees

Cubs Lineup:

1.  Fowler – CF
2.  Coghlan – LF
3.  Rizzo – 1B
4.  Bryant – 3B
5.  Soler – RF
6.  Castro – SS
7.  Ross – C
8.  Lester – SP
9.  Russell – 2B

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Matt Szczur Cracks Second Dinger of the Year Before Departing (VIDEO)

Odds are that Matt Szczur will be summoned back to the major league team after Chris Denorfia pulled up lame last night.  Szczur was pulled after the eighth inning, but before that he crushed his second dinger of the year, got all of it.

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Riding the Bus: May 4, 2015 (Cubs Minor League Reports)

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MONDAY • MAY 4, 2015

Iowa Cubs 5-4 Final

Full Box Score

Not much offense in this one as the Cubs and Sounds combined for three runs on just thirteen hits.  The right team had more as the Cubs were able to tightrope their way to a 2-1 victory on the road.

At the Plate:

  • Arismendy Alcantara is heating up, he was 1-for-4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.
  • Matt Szczur showed off his power, he was 1-for-2 with two walks, a dinger, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
  • Javier Baez had another good night, he was 1-for-2 with a walk, and stolen base.
  • Taylor Davis was solid, he went 2-for-4, he’s now hitting .333 on the season.
  • Mike Baxter and John Andreoli each had one hit in the win.

On the Mound:

  • Eric Jokisch got the start and was outstanding, he worked six innings, giving up one run on four hits while walking one, and striking out five.
  • Brian Schlitter was good out of the pen tonight, he worked a scoreless inning while giving up one hit, and striking out one.
  • Justin Grimm is working his way back, hooray.  He worked a scoreless inning, surrendering one hit while walking one, and striking out two.
  • James Russell is also doing some good things, he worked a scoreless inning as well to pick up his third save of the season.

Tennessee Smokies 5-4 Final

Full Box Score

 A long one early this afternoon saw the Smokies comeback then blow a lead late in a tough loss.  The Smokies only gave up six hits in thirteen innings, unfortunately that was just enough for Birmingham.

At the Plate:

  • Pin-Chieh Chen was seeing the ball well today, and that’s an understatement.  Chen was 2-for-2 with FIVE walks, a dinger, an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored.  That’s right, he reached base SEVEN times.
  • Willson Contreras was solid, he went 3-for-5 with a walk, and two doubles.
  • Stephen Bruno has been really good, he was 2-for-6, he’s now hitting .293 on the season.
  • Ryan Dent had a good game from the nine spot, he was 1-for-5 with a walk, a stolen base, and two runs scored.

On the Mound:

  • Felix Pena got the start and struggled with his command, he tossed 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on just two hits while walking five, and striking out four.
  • Fernando Cruz bounced back today, he worked 1.1 scoreless innings, surrendering just one base hit.
  • Michael Jensen was also really good, he worked two scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out three.
  • Stephen Perakslis was brilliant, and I thought he was going to get the win, he worked three scoreless innings, surrendering zero hits while striking out three.
  • Zach Cates picked up the blown save, and loss, he worked two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on one hit while walking one, and striking out one.

Myrtle Beach 5-4 Final

 Final Box Score

Things got a little out of hand in this one as Myrtle Beach fell behind early before racing in front late.  Trailing 2-0, the Pelicans charged ahead with six runs in the fourth inning to take a 7-6 lead.  The Pelicans didn’t stop there as they finished the night with fourteen runs, and seventeen hits.

At the Plate:

  • Mark Zagunis was 2-for-6 with two doubles, and two runs scored.
  • Wes Darvill was 1-for-3 with two walks, a triple, three RBI’s, and two runs scored.
  • Billy Mckinney was 2-for-4 with a triple, three RBI’s, a walk, and a run scored.
  • Jacob Rogers was 3-for-5 with a dinger, four RBI’s, a walk, and a run scored.
  • Jeimer Candelario was 2-for-6 with a double, and a run scored.
  • Kevin Brown was 3-for-5 with a double, and a run scored.
  • Daniel Lockhart was 2-for-5 with an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored.
  • Carlos Penalver was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI’s, a walk, and two runs scored.
  • Alberto Mineo was 0-for-3 but walked twice, and scored three runs.

On the Mound:

  • Jen-Ho Tseng got the start was oddly erratic, he worked three innings, giving up three runs on six hits, while walking two.
  • Josh Conway was touched up as well, he worked one inning, giving up three runs on three hits while walking two, and striking out one.
  • Michael Heesch was outstanding, and he picked up the win.  Heesch worked three scoreless innings, surrendering two hits while striking out three.
  • Jasvir Rakkar was solid once again, he worked two scoreless innings to notch his third save of the year.

South Bend 5-4 Final

Full Box Score

 Two quick runs from Great Lakes was the extent of the scoring in this one as South Bend could not get anything going in a 2-0 loss.

At the Plate:

  • Charcer Burks continued his hot 2015, he was 1-for-4 with a stolen base, he’s now hitting .313 on the season.
  • Chesny Young is also swinging it, he went 1-for-4 in the loss.
  • Jason Volser, Justin Marra, and Rashad Crawford all finished the day with one hit.

On the Mound:

  •  Jake Stinnett wasn’t too bad, he worked five innings, giving up two runs on seven hits while walking one, and striking out five.
  • Francisco Carrillo was dominant, he worked three scoreless innings, surrendering one hit while striking out one.
  • Tyler Ihrig was also good, he worked a scoreless inning to keep the Cubs in it late.

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Rizzo Cracks His Fourth Dinger of the Year (VIDEO)

Rizzo

I have no idea how this ball gets out, oh yeah I do, Rizzo is strong.  Rizzo went down to get this one, and blasted it out to center to give the Cubs a 6-4 lead in the second inning, here’s hoping they can hang on tonight.

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Cubs @ Cardinals – Series Preview (May 4 – May 7, 2015)

Series Preview ROAD Cardinals

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.

Broadcast Information:

  • 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

Pitching Matchups:

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.

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Javier Baez Crushes First Dinger (VIDEO)

Baez Dinger

Welcome back, Javy.  Javier Baez had his best game in Iowa since returning from his leave of absence, it included a bomb.  Only good things can come from him getting hot.

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Sunday Stats! (OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+)

Sunday Stats

Reminder:   The one thing I love about twitter is meeting other Cubs fans, talking baseball, and getting to know them.  There is never anything wrong with talking baseball, and I want to give fans an opportunity to share their thoughts on the Cubs here on the blog.  So our first new feature will be all about stats, the advanced kind, so you know what I’m talking about if I throw some sort of weird numbers at you.  Brandon has volunteered to introduce readers to some of these stats every Sunday, I hope you enjoy the feature, and give Brandon a follow on twitter to talk some baseball.

  Welcome back to the second Stats Sunday (which is tentative to change). Sorry I couldn’t get one in last weekend as I was on vacation. Today we are going to talk about 3 stats that are the foundation of your understanding of batting stats. These 3 are the Adam and Eve of Baseball sabermetrics. We are talking about OBP, or On Base Percentage, SLG, or slugging percentage, and finally OPS, or On Base plus Slugging.

  To have a solid understanding of OBP, is the first step to understanding every other stat that’s ever been created. Let’s talk about what goes into OBP. The formula is as follows: OBP=    The purpose of OBP is to account for all the ways a hitter can get on base or influence baserunners. Critical fact: It was the first sabermetric to incorporate getting on base via a walk. Back twenty or thirty years ago, this was like landing on the moon for baseball nerds. However, nothing is perfect. It doesn’t account for the value of say a homer or a triple, which is where slugging percentage comes in.  SLG = (1B + 2 × 2B + 3 × 3B + 4 × HR) / AB. The genius of slugging percentage is just the problems of OBP. A double is given more value than a single but less than a triple. Here comes the most inclusive stat thus far, OPS (On Base plus Slugging). Actually, that is the formula, super simple. All of the problems of OBP and the problems of SLG are fixed by this one stat. It represents all of the ways a hitter can get on base and represents the value of hits.

  Let’s get into why you should be using these stats and how to use them. Why should you use OBP? Very simply, to determine how often a hitter is getting on base. Joey Votto led the league in 2012 with an OBP of .474, that is absolutely ridiculous. The OBP average from 1901-2014 was .329, and last year the league average was .321.  A VERY good OBP is normally around .390. The league average from 1901-2014 for SLG is .382. The average from 1980-2014 was 406. Let’s say anything below .390 is below league average and anything above .390 is above league average. Finally, league average OPS is around 740, 800 is good, 1000 is less than what Kris Bryant had in his minor league career. This is not a joke.

  SURPRISE! ONE MORE STAT TODAY! We call it OPS+. This is by far the easiest stat of the bunch to understand.  League average is set at 100 and for every point you are above, you are 1 percentage point better than league average. The same goes for an OPS+ under 100.  Another cool thing about OPS+ is that it is adjusted to park factors. So a hitter’s park like Coors field would inflate an OPS+. With a pitcher’s park, you would normally have lower numbers. The single season leader for OPS+ EVER is 266 from Barry Bonds. He was kind of good at the baseballs. On average, I like a known hitter to have an OPS in the 130-150 range. That’s where Rizzo falls in. Let’s take a look at the OPS+ from the 1984 Cubs who were known as being a really, really good hitting team. The following chart is sorted by OPS+ from largest to smallest using Excel. Which reminds me, if you ever want any data I use in the articles, send me an email, and within the hour you will have more Cubs stats than you can possibly imagine.

OBP article graphic

  Unfortunately, I am having a little trouble with Tableau and how to make the data consolidated, so that it is easy to read. There is a way to make the data more interactive and fun to play but am not sure how. And because of this, I can’t get the data into a picture that everyone can see. Just for a little taste of the action, Rogers Hornsby is the career leader for the Cubs with an OPS over 1000. Let me know if you can help out. Send me an email if you want to mess around with the picture. It’s just way too much data to put in a graph that will fit in the articles.  Looking at the chart, we see number 1, Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg. He consistently came through with good seasons and by the way, THE NUMBER OF PLATE APPEARANCES. HOLY COW! I left the pitchers in because it’s fun to see how bad pitchers are at batting.

  So that’ll wrap it up for this week. Next week we will look at a stat that is simple, yet tells a lot about a player’s power. Go Cubs!  

          — Brandon

Hope everyone enjoyed the first “Sunday Stats,” if you are interested in sharing something about baseball just give me a shout on twitter.

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Cubs GameDay! May 3, 2015 (Lineups, Broadcast Info, Weather)

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First pitch:  1:20 PM CST
TV:  WGN TV and MLB Network
Radio:  WBBM NEWSRADIO 780
Weather:  partly cloudy, 75 degrees, wind blowing out at 18 MPH, there is some rain in the area, looks hit and miss.

Cubs Lineup:

1.  Fowler – CF
2.  Soler – RF
3.  Rizzo – 1B
4.  Bryant – 3B
5.  Montero – C
6.  Castro – SS
7.  Coghlan – LF
8.  Hammel – SP
9.  Russell – 2B

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