Happy Mother’s Day
The Cubs improved to 23-6 with Saturday’s win over the Nationals and have a shot at a four-game sweep with Jake Arrieta on the hill in Sunday’s finale. The Cubs are the 12th team in the last 100 years to begin a season 23-6 after 29 games, the first in the National League since the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cubs run differential is plus-101, as Scott Lindholm reported only one team since 1901 has reached at least a plus-100 run differential in fewer games than the 2016 Chicago Cubs. The 1902 Pirates had a plus-103 run differential after 26 games.
Hector Rondon’s start to the season has been overlooked with the runs the Cubs are scoring (180) and as a staff not giving up (79). Hector Rondon has been really good out of the back of Joe Maddon’s bullpen.
Rondon has appeared in 12 games and has allowed one run on four hits. Rondon has not issued a free pass and has 18 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings (0.79 ERA, 0.35 WHIP, -0.10 FIP). Rondon is 0-1 on the season, 6-for-6 in save opportunities and has finished all 12 games he’s pitched.
Hector Rondon may not be racking up the saves as some have pointed out, but he continues to get the job done with little to no drama in the ninth inning for a contending team.
Joe Maddon said Saturday that Rondon will not be available for Sunday’s finale with the Nationals after pitching four games in a row.
According to Carrie Muskat, Miguel Montero is making progress. The Cubs have not given a timetable on when he will return from the DL.
Montero rested Saturday and is expected to increase hitting Sunday.
Joe Maddon said he’s getting better but he doesn’t “have a finish line in sight yet.”
Tim Federowicz has stepped in with Montero out and contributed offensively and behind the plate. Maddon pointed out Saturday that Federowicz is “a catcher who cares about his pitchers first” and the pitchers “have taken note of that.”
Based on Maddon’s comments, it doesn’t sound like Montero will be activated when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday.
Tommy La Stella
The not-so-usual suspects have helped the Cubs post baseball’s best record according to Comcast SportsNet. And one of those players is infielder Tommy La Stella.
Comcast SportsNet pointed out that La Stella has been one of the best hitters in the Cubs lineup.
La Stella has produced at the plate when he’s in the lineup and coming off the bench. ‘3am’ is batting .356/.442/.667 in 18 games with six doubles and two home runs for a 1.109 OPS. La Stella has more walks (6) than strikeouts (5) in 45 at bats.
As a pinch-hitter this season, Tommy La Stella is 3-for-5 with two doubles and two walks.
Ryan Kalish was called up from Iowa on Tuesday and has played in four games, with one start. At the plate, Kalish is 2-for-5 with two RBI.
Kalish made a huge contribution to Saturday’s win over the Nationals. Maddon called on Kalish in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, two-outs and the Cubs trailing 4-3. When the lefty hitting Kalish was announced, Dusty Baker went to his pen for a southpaw, Sammy Solis.
Maddon had Kalish take the at-bat and he put the ball in play on a 2-2 pitch. Kalish blooped a single into left just out of the reach of a diving Danny Espinosa. Jorge Soler and Addison Russell scored and the Cubs took a 5-4 lead.
Kalish missed last season due to injury and two knee surgeries after finishing the 2014 season on the Cubs’ active roster. Kalish told the Tribune that “this team is so much fun to play for” and this is why he worked so hard last year.
“This is what it’s all about. This is what I’ve been working for during that whole year. This team is so much fun to play for, when you get a moment like that just to contribute it was so much fun out there. The energy when that happened … I can’t even describe what I felt.”
• Asbury Park Press – The incredible comeback of former RBC star Ryan Kalish
Wrigley Field played like two different parks in consecutive days. From Friday’s hitter’s day in which the wind was blowing out and the Cubs took Max Scherzer deep four times to Saturday’s pitcher’s day with the wind howling in. Wrigley can change from inning-to-inning just not day-to-day. And to build a winning team it takes a roster full of athletes that are capable of performing regardless of the conditions at the old ballyard.
According to Comcast SportsNet, Joe Maddon still marvels at fast-changing Wrigley weather.
“Going from yesterday to today, you expect an entirely different game,” Maddon said. “It’s like no other place. There’s no other ballpark I’ve been involved with anywhere, anywhere, that can change so dramatically from day to day. That’s what it is, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
Wrigley Field Plaza
According to multiple reports Thursday, the Cubs applied for an outdoor patio liquor license.
Danny Ecker reported the Cubs applied for the license, through Levy Restaurants, “in a move to sidestep protracted negotiations” with Ald. Tom Tunney. Talks between Ald. Tunney and the Cubs “over enacting a new sports plaza liquor license apparently broke down.”
The Cubs and Ald. Tunney do not agree on how late the team should be allowed to sell liquor and wine in the new plaza outside Wrigley Field.
According to the report from Crain’s Chicago Business, “the patio application is now in the hands of the city’s liquor control commission, where it will have a state-minded 45 day waiting period to gather feedback from the community. Once that is over, the commission then has 45 days to either grant or deny the license.”
The Cubs will continue talking with Ald. Tunney in the hopes of finding a solution.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Theo Epstein is “expected to become the highest-paid executive, non-owner, in baseball history” according to Nick Cafardo. And Jed Hoyer is also expected to sign an extension and “be rewarded” for the job he has done with the Cubs.
• Josh Reddick could be “a prime target for teams seeking a hitter” before the deadline. Nick Cafardo pointed out the history Theo Epstein has with Reddick in his Sunday notes column. Cafardo is the latest to connect the Cubs to Reddick. The A’s played a doubleheader Saturday and Reddick had seven hits in nine at-bats against the Orioles. Reddick is batting .301/.355/.460 for a .815 OPS in 30 games with six doubles and four home runs for the 14-17 Oakland A’s.
• According to Christopher Kamka, Cubs starters have pitched five-plus innings in all 29 games this season, the longest streak for any Cubs’ team to begin a season since 1927 (29 games).
• The Cubs offense grabs most of the headlines. As FanGraphs shows the pitching staff has done its job and leads baseball in ERA (2.50). The starting rotation is also tops in ERA (2.17) and the bullpen is 12th.
• And FanGraphs has the Cubs probability of a postseason berth at 99.1% after Saturday’s win over the Nationals. It’s only May 8 but the numbers are just staggering.
• Everything seems to fall Cubs way in 8-5 victory with wind howling in according to the Tribune.
• Comcast SportsNet reported Cubs win sixth straight as Addison Russell gets clutch again.
This Day in Cubstory
1991 – Cubs signed free agent Tom Filer
1973 – Ernie Banks replaced Cubs’ manager Whitey Lockman after he was ejected in the 11th inning of a game at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. Banks was the Cubs’ skipper for two innings in a game the Cubs won 3-2 in 12 innings. Banks technically became the first African American manager in the history of the game.
1970 – Billy Williams hit a pair of home runs in a 10-7 victory over the Reds at Wrigley Field. A total of nine home runs were hit at Wrigley on the afternoon.
1958 – Cubs traded Turk Lown to Redlegs for Hersh Freeman
1926 – Grover Cleveland Alexander beat the Giants 6-4 in what was Alexander’s final win with the Cubs.
1885 – Bill Powell, born
1850 – Ross Barnes, born