Playoff Pitching Leaders

Well, the White Sox have been pushed off the post-season stage and, thanks to yesterday’s rainout, the Cubs still need to take 2 from the Marlins to avoid the same fate.  It’s time to take our updated look at the pitching leaders from the now 30 post-season games I’ve attended since the White Sox won the AL Central in 2000.

Wins

Name Total
Mark Buehrle 2
Jon Lester 2
Jake Arrieta 2
25 tied with 1

Losses

Name Total
Matt Clement 2
29 tied with 1

ERA (> 6 IP)

Name Total
Aroldis Chapman 0.00
Stephen Strasburg 0.00
Kyle Freeland 0.00
Johnny Cueto 1.13
Chad Billingsley 1.35

Strikeouts

Name Total
Jon Lester 25
Jake Arrieta 22
Mark Buehrle 13
Continue reading →

Adios Addison

When the Cubs first acquired Addison Russell on July 4, 2014, they thought they were getting a cornerstone of their rebuild that would roam the middle of the Wrigley Field infield for years to come.  In 2015, he supplanted Starlin Castro at shortstop and, the following year, he hit a grand slam in game 6 of the World Series, helping the Cubs win their first title in 108 years.  3 years later, his time with the team has come to an end, as the Cubs declined to tender him a contract on Monday.

On the field, Russell has failed to take that next step.  His OPS+ dropped in both 2017 and 2018, before rebounding slightly this year.  He was sent to Triple A this summer after admitting he needed to be “more familiar” with the team’s signs.  On top of his diminishing performance, his off the field baggage made keeping him untenable.

Russell missed the first 28 games of 2019 to complete his domestic violence suspension tied to a September 2018 Instagram post by his now ex-wife containing accusations of physical and emotional abuse.  After initially denying the accusations, Russell decided to accept the suspension without appeal and agreed to participate in a comprehensive treatment program.

By all accounts, the Cubs should have cut bait last offseason, but they decided to take a chance at recovering any value Russell still had and tendered him  a contract for 2019.  The same was not true this time around.  President of baseball operations Theo Epstein boiled down the decision to a financial one, saying, “We decided to non-tender Addison Russell today simply because the role we expected him to play for the 2020 Cubs was inconsistent with how he would have been treated in the salary arbitration process.”

With the emergence of Javy Baez, there isn’t a pressing need for Russell’s services.  Given the bad press the team has weathered over the past few years around Russell and their acquisitions of Aroldis Chapman and Daniel Murphy, it was time to cut bait.  To be perfectly honest, this is probably the best move for Russell as well, giving him the opportunity to re-start his career somewhere else, without the scrutiny of the Cub spotlight.

What To Do With Addison Russell?

When the Cubs first acquired Addison Russell on July 4, 2014, they thought they were getting a cornerstone of their rebuild that would roam the middle of the Wrigley Field infield for years to come.  In 2015, he supplanted Starlin Castro at shortstop and, the following year, he hit a grand slam in game 6 of the World Series, helping the Cubs win their first title in 108 years.  And its been downhill since then.

On the field, Russell has failed to take that next step.  His OPS+ dropped in both 2017 and 2018.  He set career lows in home runs in 2017 and again in 2018.  His errors per chance increased both years.  That alone would leave reasonable questions about his future with the franchise.  His performance on the field, however, is nothing compared to the nightmare he has turned into off the field.

In June of 2017, an Instagram post by a friend of his wife’s accused Russell of domestic violence.  Russell denied the accusation and, while MLB opened an investigation, he wasn’t suspended.  At the 2017 All Star Game, Scott Boras, Russell’s agent, seemed confident that his client would be absolved of any wrong-doing.  “I think we know the facts of that and the foundation of social media,” Boras said that day.  “I don’t think there is any support to (the allegation).”

Everything was quiet until late September 2018, when Russell’s now ex-wife posted on Instagram, detailing some of the physical and emotional abuse that she claims Russell put her through.  Russell again denied the allegations, but was placed on administrative leave for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs.  On October 4, Russell was suspended for 40 games, retroactive to September 21 and spilling into the beginning of the 2019 season, becoming eligible to play on May 3, barring any early season weather issues.

Per a statement, Russell decided to accept the suspension without appeal and will also participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program, which will be supervised by MLB’s Joint Policy Board.  “After gaining a full understanding of the situation, I have concluded it’s in the best interest of my family to accept MLB’s proposed resolution of this matter,” Russell said in the statement released by his attorneys.  “I wish my ex-wife well and hope we can live in peace for the benefit of our child.”

The Cubs had an easy out at that point, but instead decided to tender Russell a contract for 2019 last month.  President of baseball operations Theo Epstein called the decision a “procedural step” and said it did “not represent the finish line nor rubber stamp his future” with the club.  “It does, however, reflect our support for him as long as he continues to make progress and demonstrates his commitment to these important issues,” Epstein added.  In a statement released by the Cubs, Russell said, “Since accepting my suspension, I’ve had time to reflect on my past behavior and think about the next steps I need to take to grow as a person.”

Earlier this week, more details about the abuse were released by Russell’s ex-wife while additional allegations were made by a former girlfriend and mother of Russell’s daughter.  Unfortunately for the Cubs, they can’t rid themselves of Russell now even if they wanted to.  Until Russell signs a contract for 2019, he is in a bit of a limbo.  That is, assuming, that the Cubs want to rid themselves of Russell and the headache that he brings to the table.

With the emergence of Javy Baez and the availability of Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist, there isn’t a pressing need for Russell’s services.  Given the bad press the team has weathered over the past few years regarding their acquisitions of Aroldis Chapman and Daniel Murphy, one would think it would make sense for the Cubs to move on at this point.  It would also likely be beneficial for Russell to re-start his career somewhere else, without the scrutiny of the Cub spotlight.

LCS Pitching Leaders

With Game 1 of the 2017 NLCS between the Cubs and Dodgers in the books, it’s time to take an updated look at the pitching leaders from the 9 LCS games I’ve attended prior to last night since 2003, featuring the White Sox, Cubs, Angels, Marlins, Dodgers, and Mets.

Wins

Name Total
Jacob deGrom 1
Paul Byrd 1
Brad Penny 1
Chad Fox  1
Mark Buehrle 1
Bartolo Colon 1
Ugueth Urbina 1
Kyle Hendricks 1
Aroldis Chapman 1

Losses

Name Total
Jason Hammel 1
Mark Prior 1
Jose Contreras 1
Trevor Cahill 1
Kerry Wood 1
Kelvim Escobar  1
Mark Guthrie 1
Joe Blanton 1
Clayton Kershaw 1

ERA (> 4 IP)

Name Total
Jarrod Washburn 0.00
Mark Buehrle 1.00
Jon Lester 1.50
Kyle Hendricks 1.59
Steven Matz 1.93

Strikeouts

Name Total
Kyle Hendricks 10
Josh Beckett 8
Continue reading →

Playoff Pitching Leaders

With the NLDS between the Cubs and the Nationals tied at a game a piece, it’s time to take our updated look at the pitching leaders from the now 26 post-season games I’ve attended since the White Sox won the AL Central in 2000.

Wins

Name Total
Mark Buehrle 2
Jon Lester 2
22 tied with 1

Losses

Name Total
Matt Clement 2
23 tied with 1

ERA (> 6 IP)

Name Total
Aroldis Chapman 0.00
Johnny Cueto 1.13
Chad Billingsley 1.35
Jon Lester 1.35
Clayton Richard 1.42

Strikeouts

Name Total
Mark Prior 13
Continue reading →

2016 Final Pitching Leaders

baseballs3Tuesday, we looked at the leaders in the 39 games I attended this year on the offensive side of the ball.  It’s now time to wrap up our look back at the 2016 season with the pitching leaders, starting with everyone’s favorite pitching statistic:

Wins

Name Total
Chris Sale 5
Jose Quintana 3
David Robertson 2
Carlos Rodon 2
Mat Latos 2
Hector Santiago  2
Jon Lester 2

Losses

Name Total
Chris Sale 3
Carlos Rodon 3
James Shields 3
Miguel Gonzalez 2
28 tied with 1

ERA (> 10 IP)

Name Total
Hector Santiago 0.00
Danny Duffy 0.00
Dan Jennings 0.60
Zach Duke 0.75
Nate Jones 1.98

Strikeouts

Name Total
Chris Sale 62
Continue reading →

Joy In Wrigleyville

wschamps-marqueeAfter falling behind 3 games to 1 against the Indians in the 2016 World Series, the Cubs rallied back to force a Game 7 for the ages.  After taking an early lead, the Cubs found themselves tied at the end of 9 innings thanks to an overused Aroldis Chapman.  A brief rain delay before the 10th let them catch their breath and they plated 2 runs before giving up 1 in the bottom of the 10th.  With the tying run on base and the winning run at the plate, Mike Montgomery managed to get Michael Martinez to ground out to Kris Bryant, ending the game and giving the Cubs their first World Series title since 1908 and the cities first title since 2005.

The Cubs spent most of 2016 as the best team in baseball and appeared to have the right attitude regarding the so-called curses that had stopped the team from even appearing in the Fall Classic since 1945.  Once the team won the NL Pennant two weekends ago, it looked like nothing would stop them from taking the title, especially not an Indians team that had a decimated starting rotation and was forced to use their remaining pitchers on short rest for the entire series.  After splitting the first two games at Progressive Field, the Cubs came home to Wrigley Field feeling confident, but dropped to next 2 games to leave the Indians one win away from their first title since 1948, the second longest title-drought in the Major Leagues.  Facing elimination, the Cubs managed to win the next 3 games.

With a throw from Kris Bryant to Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs managed to erase 108 years of futility and their identity as the “lovable losers.”  Nobody knows what the future now holds for the team.  There will be increased expectations and, probably, less tolerance for failure from a fan base that has had more than its fair share.  But those are worries for next spring.  For now, the Cubs, and their fans, can enjoy being on top of the baseball world for the first time since the Teddy Roosevelt administration.