The Cubs improved to a Major League best 33-14 (.702) with Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Phillies behind Kyle Hendricks complete-game gem. The Cubs are 31-2 when scoring four or more runs and the 33-14 record is the best mark in franchise history since the 1918 Cubs were also 33-14 after 47 games.
As a group, the Cubs starting rotation has a 2.52 ERA and 1.012 WHIP. And four of the five starters have an ERA under 3.00 … Jake Arrieta (1.72), Jason Hammel (2.17), Jon Lester (2.48) and Kyle Hendricks (2.93). John Lackey gets the ball Sunday in the series finale with the Phillies. Lackey has a 3.38 ERA and 0.94 WHIP after nine starts.
Ben Zobrist extended his hitting streak to 14 games on Saturday. Zobrist went 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI. Zobrist delivered when it counted in the first inning. Zobrist doubled in Jason Heyward with two outs, gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead and Kyle Hendricks a little breathing room.
Zobrist has reached base safely with either a hit or a walk in the last 33 games he’s started. With three straight multi-hit games and 11 multi-hit games in his last 21, Zobrist is up to .354/.455/.530 on the season with 11 doubles and six home runs for a .985 OPS. And in his last 25 games, Zobrist is batting .429/.505/.670 with seven doubles, five home runs and a 1.175 OPS.
Because of his preparation, Joe Maddon thinks Ben Zobrist can sustain the success he’s having at the plate.
- The Tribune – Ben Zobrist puttin’ on the hits for the Cubs
- Carrie Muskat – Maddon praises ‘consummate pro’ Zobrist
Cubs Super Longballs
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo lead the Cubs with 11 home runs. Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist have gone yard six times. Jorge Soler has the third most homers on the team with five and both David Ross and Addison Russell have four home runs.
Jorge Soler hit the longest homer by any Cubs’ player this season Friday … a projected 461 feet that dented the scoreboard.
Daren Willman posted the longest home runs hit by Cubs recorded by Statcast. And there is a surprise name on the list.
Kris Bryant owns the two longest homers. Bryant has hit a ball 495 feet and 477 feet. Soler’s shot Friday ranks third (461 feet). Kyle Schwarber launched three homers last season that travel 459 feet, 450 feet and 448 feet. Bryant checks back in at that point. Bryant’s third longest home run went 447 feet.
And the eighth longest home run hit by a Cubs’ player was actually launched by a pitcher, Jake Arrieta. His shot in Arizona back in April traveled 440 feet.
The Cubs finished second to the Padres in February 2015 in the James Shields sweepstakes. Shields was still a free agent as Spring Training quickly approached. Shields’ price dropped and the Cubs made a hard run at him. Shields chose the Padres over the Cubs. He said at the time the Padres offered him a better chance at winning … oops.
Fast forward 15 months and the Padres are a mess. No one in the game really understands what A.J. Preller is doing with the organization. And other than winning a series against the Cubs, the Padres are trending downward.
According to multiple reports Saturday, James Shields might end up in Chicago after all … but not on the North Side. The White Sox are among the teams that have talked to the Padres about Shields.
Dennis Lin broke the story Saturday afternoon before the Sox massive ninth inning meltdown. Lin reported the talks appeared to have “significant momentum” according to his sources. Lin did not know if a deal was imminent.
Reports suggested Saturday that the White Sox top prospect INF Tim Anderson is involved in the discussions.
Lin reported the Padres are willing to pay some of the remaining money owed to Shields. Jon Heyman pointed out the same. Shields’ contract could keep the Padres from dealing him, and if nothing else reduce their asking price.
Shields is 2-6 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 3.87 WHIP in 10 starts this season. Shields has allowed 23 runs, 22 earned, on 61 hits with 23 walks and 56 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings. Shields’ numbers are not bad and with the lack of options on the market this off-season, he could opt out of his contract.
Shields is owed the remainder of his $21 million salary for this season. His contract calls for $21 million in 2017 and 2018 and has a $16 million club option for 2019 that includes a $2 million buyout. Shields does not have a no-trade clause or assignment bonuses. But he can opt out of his contract after this season, no later than three days after the conclusion of the World Series.
It’s hard to see the Padres receiving prospects the caliber of Tim Anderson for Shields without some guarantee from his camp that he will not exercise his option and become a free agent in five months.
News and Notes
• Better than advertised, Comcast SportsNet explained where the Cubs stand on Memorial Day Weekend.
• Rebuilding Phillies are no match for win-now Cubs at Wrigley Field according to Comcast SportsNet.
• Patrick Mooney explained why the Cubs believe in Kyle Hendricks and his sneaky-good potential.
• David Ross got the ball that he launched Friday for his 100th career home run, some wine, champagne and avoided be doused on the field according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• According to the Tribune, Jason Heyward’s long-dormant bat shows signs of life for Cubs.
• RHP Pierce Johnson reported to the Cubs’ facility in Mesa to continue his rehab. Johnson pitched in an extended Spring Training game Saturday. The Cubs have not said when Johnson could return to the Iowa Cubs. A report from the Des Moines Register last week indicated Johnson could be back in the I-Cubs’ rotation in the middle of June.
• According to the Des Moines Register, the recently outrighted C.J. Riefenhauser was sent to Arizona.
• Buster Olney reported the Red-hot Pirates are a sleeping giant. The Pirates are only 5 ½ games behind the Cubs with two big arms in the minors ready to burst onto the scene.
• The Dodgers wanted to mark defensive positioning in the outfield at Citi Field prior to Friday night’s game. The Mets would not let them and contacted Major League Baseball “after learning that the Dodgers intended to mark prearranged defensive positions in the outfield” according to Ken Rosenthal.
• The Mets found a replacement for Lucas Duda at first base. The Metropolitans acquired veteran James Loney from the Padres for cash. Loney was playing in the Padres’ system after signing a minor league contract early in the season. Loney was released by the Rays on April 3 and inked the deal with the Friars on April 8. Loney was hitting .342/.373/.424 with seven doubles and two home runs for a .797 OPS in 43 games at Triple-A El Paso. Loney had an opt out date of June 1 so the Padres received very little in return for him. Loney batted .280/.322/.357 in 104 games for Tampa last season with 16 doubles, four home runs and a .680 OPS. Cubs’ fans will always remember the name James Loney.
• The Cardinals designated INF Ruben Tejada for assignment. The Cardinals decided Greg Garcia is a better option for the team right now. Tejada was only hitting .176/.225/.235 with two doubles and a .460 OPS in 23 games for the Redbirds this season.
• It does not appear the Cubs will see Dodgers’ lefty Julio Urias during the upcoming series at Wrigley Field. Urias made his Major League debut Friday night at Citi Field and showed signs of the hype that has followed him for the last two-plus years. Urias completed 2 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts to the Mets. The Dodgers optioned Urias to Triple-A on Saturday. The only way he would face the Cubs is if he replaces an injured player on the roster.
• Former Cubs-infielder-for-a-minute Brendan Ryan was designated for assignment by the Angels on Saturday to make room for infielder Cliff Pennington on the active roster. Ryan did not have a hit or reached base in 12 plate appearances in 11 games for the Angels (.000/.000/.000).
And last, but not least, Joe Maddon told the beat writers prior to Saturday’s game that Kyle Hendricks “is one the most unselfish players” he’s ever had.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs released Hunter Cervenka
2013 – Dioner Navarro hit three home runs, two from the left side and one from the right in a 9-3 victory over the White Sox
2012 – Cubs released Nate Robertson
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Shane Lindsay
2009 – Cubs signed free agent John-Ford Griffin
2003 – Cubs traded Derrin Ebert to the Diamondbacks for Chris Donnels
1996 – Cubs signed free agent Felix Fermin
1976 – Jerry Hairston Jr., born
1970 – Cubs traded Ted Abernathy to the Cardinals for Phil Gagliano
1966 – Ron Santo homered in the 10th inning to beat the Braves 3-2 at Wrigley Field. Santo hit a three-run homer in the 12th inning the day before that gave the Cubs an 8-5 victory over the Braves.
1965 – Cubs acquire Harvey Kuenn, Bob Hendley and Ed Bailey from the Giants for Dick Bertell and Len Gabrielson
1962 – Buck O’Neil, previously a scout with the Cubs, becomes the first African American coach in Major League Baseball after accepting a job with the Cubs
1962 – Ernie Banks hit three home runs and a double in his first game back from being beaned on May 25 and Billy Williams, Bob Will and George Altman hit one each, but the Cubs lost to the Braves 11-9 in 10 innings at Wrigley Field
1939 – Cubs acquired Claude Passeau from the Phillies for Ray Harrell, Kirby Higbe, Joe Marty and $50,000
1931 – Cubs traded Earl Grace and cash to the Pirates for Rollie Hemsley
1930 – Game between the Cubs and Reds is postponed due to the sudden death of Cubs pitcher Hal Carlson
1911 – Riding the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Cubs completed their 191-mile journey from Columbus, Ohio to their game in Pittsburgh in three hours and thirty-five minutes. The trip, which sets a land-speed record, lasts 75 minutes longer that the time it took for the Cubs to beat the Pirates 4-1 at Forbes Field.
1908 – Cubs purchased Doc Marshall from the Cardinals
This Day in Baseball History
2002 – In an article for Sports Illustrated, former NL MVP Ken Caminiti claimed about 50 percent of the current players in Major League Baseball were using some form of steroids.
1922 – The Supreme Court ruled that organized baseball is a sport and not a business, which exempts Major League clubs from antitrust laws and interstate commerce rules.