The Rundown: Cubs Inch Closer to Division Title, Hendricks Ready for Postseason, Lester Likely Game 3 Starter, White Sox Fall to Second Place
“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does the truth become error because nobody will see it.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Who knew Gandhi would be able to foresee the Cubs’ 2020 season nearly 100 years ago?
Let me be immediately forthright about something before I get started: I’d rather dwell in the comments section of yesterday’s Rundown than regurgitate a similar article with the same old BS. Multiple propagation is an apt description of the last week of Cubs baseball, or, if you really want to get into recent history, the last three Septembers. To wit:
- Cubs bats silent again;
- Anthony Rizzo belts another meaningless homer;
- Chicago loses to the Pirates but inches closer to NL Central crown; and
- Another wasted effort by a starter.
Kyle Hendricks turns in another quality start, Cubs fall in Pittsburgh.
Recap: https://t.co/OKWyftvVEz pic.twitter.com/VWH4yIWJoH
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 24, 2020
The Cubs’ magic number to win the division dropped to three because the Cardinals were hammered by the Royals last night. The next Cubs win or Reds loss eliminates Cincinnati from contention, and the North Siders can celebrate their first division championship since 2017 if they beat the Pirates this afternoon and the Brewers beat St. Louis tonight. Technically, they can celebrate at least a tie, because they split their season series with the Redbirds at five games apiece, but let’s drill down a little further.
The next tie-breaker is intra-division winning percentage and the Cubs are 22-16 (.579) with today’s game closing out their schedule against NL Central opponents. The Cardinals are 19-16 with five games left against the Brewers. So a win tonight and a St. Louis loss truly makes the Cubs champions, because the best their most-hated rivals could do intradivisonally in that scenario is 23-17 (.575). A win tonight would also eliminate the Brewers from title contention.
Author’s Note: I write these articles very early in the morning while it is still dark out so please feel free to double check my math.
At any rate, Alec Mills takes the bump this afternoon with a chance to effectively eliminate St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati from division title contention. I’m happy to ride that horse, unless my editor or one of our readers proves me wrong. Perhaps Gandhi really had the Cubs in mind back in 1925, because he followed his earlier quote with this:
“The future depends on what you do today.”
‘Nuff said. Go get ’em Alec.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs may have to clinch the NL Central by beating the White Sox this weekend, and they’re in their own battle for a division championship as the Twins now lead the AL Central by a half-game. Imagine the electricity if fans could attend. It would rival the 2016 World Series.
- Adbert Alzolay may not make the team’s postseason roster (he should though), but if he does, he’ll bring his disgusting new slider as part of his arsenal.
- The front office wants the team to finish its regular season business before diving too deep into the construction of its playoff roster.
- David Ross hopes the big stage of postseason baseball will help the team come out of its seemingly never ending slump.
- Kyle Hendricks has been quite impressive this month. Assuming he does not pitch again until the postseason, the Professor finished the month with a 3-1 record and a 1.45 ERA in five starts, pitching into the eighth inning in each of his final four outings.
- Hendricks will likely get the Game 1 start in the first round of the playoffs.
- Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy indicated very strongly that Jon Lester would start a potential elimination game in the opening round should the Cubs require one.
- Including his no-hitter, Mills carries a 2.77 ERA September ERA into today’s matinee against the Bucs. Pittsburgh will counter with Chad Kuhl, who could be the cure for Chicago’s offensive woes. Anthony Rizzo (.318), Jason Heyward (.556), Willson Contreras (.667) and Kris Bryant (.391) have all given Kuhl fits.
Odds & Sods
There are some things you just cannot unsee.
The @RaysBaseball do a little adapting for their #ALEast Champions celebration.#RaysUp #MLB pic.twitter.com/tgX9MbbFyR
— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) September 24, 2020
How About That!
The Rays are AL East champions for the first time in 10 years.
Reds starter Trevor Bauer may have taken the lead for the NL Cy Young Award with his performance against the Brewers last night.
The Blue Jays continue to pummel the Yankees.
Mike Clevinger was pulled after just one inning last night due to pain in his bicep.
The Twins won last night and took the lead in the AL West after the Indians downed the White Sox.
Empty ballparks may have truly influenced the outcome of the regular season, and may be something to keep an eye on in the first round of the playoffs.
Major League Baseball’s new seven-year deal with Turner Sports is worth nearly $3.5 billion at $535 million per season, according to sources.
MLB released its postseason television schedule yesterday.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Trevor Bauer – 12 strikeouts over eight innings will get you the top spot on most nights. Bauer lowered his ERA to 1.73 and the Reds could surprise if they grab a playoff spot.
- Shane Bieber – The rightly lowered his league-best ERA to 1.63 by holding the White Sox to just one unearned run in five innings. Bieber finished the night with 10 strikeouts
- Danny Jansen – The Blue Jays catcher had a 4-for-4 night with two taters and four RBI.
Are you ready for playoff baseball?
The Bears lost one of the dearest members of their family yesterday when Gale Sayers passed away. This is a nice sentiment from James Caan, who played Brian Piccolo in the movie “Brian’s Song.” The theme song still brings me to tears.
The Cubs also paid tribute through social media to the Hall-of-Fame running back yesterday.
To one of the greatest ever an inspiration to so many. So proud to have known him. My love and condolences to the family. #RIPGaleSayers End of tweet pic.twitter.com/klmCCJv1W3
— James Caan (@James_Caan) September 23, 2020
They Said It
- “Sometimes you have to embrace it might be a down year offensively. It is a down year offensively for a lot of guys. Those are just facts. They continue to find ways to win in different ways. That’s also a powerful thing, being in the situation we’re in.” – David Ross
- “If you’re not used to getting out or struggling, you’re playing the wrong game.” – Cameron Maybin
Thursday Walk Up Song
Ballad of Big Nothing by Elliott Smith – I know a lot of you are unhappy with the expanded playoffs so this is dedicated to each of you. If you listen carefully, you can hear a little bit of pre-shoegaze distortion in this arrangement. And hey…that Cubs offense, am I right?
“Watching the parade with pinpoint eyes full of smoldering anger.”