This may be hard to believe, but getting home at Tommy La Stella isn’t the best thing in the world in terms of having a clear mind the next day. No, I didn’t take a detour through New Jersey on my way back from the Cubs game Sunday night. We wanted to stick around for the entire Rossypalooza set list, though, which meant leaving Chicago at around midnight ET. Well worth it, even if the rolling synaptic brownout in my brain has necessitated a quick-hit style piece this time around.
I’m hoping to stay on topic here, so let’s get moving:
Bryant gets to 100 RBI, 39 homers
Certain achievements carry more psychological weight than others, which is why they call them milestones. As such, Kris Bryant has been bowed by the burden of reaching 100 RBI and 40 home runs for a while now. He lightened his load significantly with a two-run homer to left center on Monday that pushed him over one mark and got him to within kissing distance of the other.
I’d imagine the MVP candidate will find it easier to move forward with just that single big goal remaining and I won’t be surprised at all to see Bryant reach the 40 home run mark when the Cubs close the season in Cincy. No only has he absolutely destroyed Reds pitching this season, but the folks in the Queen City have already proven quite adept at removing monkeys from peoples backs.
100 wins is a big deal
The Cubs are not unique in racking up triple-digit wins, and plenty of people will be happy to tell you how little that vaunted total means when it comes to postseason success. You can go ahead and tell them to pound sand if you like. Getting into the Century Club is more symbolic than anything, but it’s pretty cool when you think that the only people who’ve been alive to see the Cubs do it were born prior to October of 1935.
My only lament is that I’d predicted an even 100, which means I’m going to fall short. I wish I’d have been smart enough to bet on the Cubs back in March, though, as the over/under on wins was something like 93 1/2. Next time, man, next time. Even if the Cubs drop their final six games, they’ll finish with at least two more wins than any other team in baseball. That seems highly unlikely, what with the Pirates and Reds having pretty much given up.
So much for not being the best team in baseball, eh, Gerrit Cole
Don’t beware Pirates
Speaking of not being the best team in baseball, the Cubs continued their attempt to give Tom Ricketts official ownership of the Pittsburgh Pirates with yet another beatdown. With Monday’s loss, the Buccos dropped to 3-13 against their division rivals and have been outscored 103-60. Look at it this way: were it not for the Cubs, the Pirates would be 74-66 (.529) with a +26 run differential. That winning percentage would have them in second place in the Central and tied for the Wild Card lead.
In a reality that includes the Cubs, however, the Pirates are 77-79 and sit 4 games behind the Cards and 5 games back in the Wild Card. They do have some good, young talent to fall back on in the future and have proven adept at drafting and grooming solid prospects, so there’s that. On the other hand, they’re dealing with market constraints that will act against their ability to remain competitive for long stretches.
John Jaso’s hair
Like the ridiculous shock of hair on the gentleman I kept reluctantly flipping over to during the Cubs game, I just can’t quite wrap my head around that thing on John Jaso’s head. I had a nightmare the other day that I was in a submarine that was attacked by his hair, which I’ve dubbed the Dreadlock Mess Monster.
I even heard a rumor that the first baseman spends his offseason plundering merchant vessels under the alias Dreadlock Pirate Roberts. Bleacher Nation’s Luke Blaize suggested I write a novel called 40,000 Locks Under the Sea, which is a distinct possibility.
Should I stop now? Okay, as you wish.
Javy barrels up
I recently ran a piece about the new Statcast metric called “barrels” that seeks to measure perfectly-struck balls using exit velocity and launch angle. Javy’s grand slam probably fell into that category, though the absence of exit velo data in the game prevents me from saying so for certain. Then again, it may just be that the equipment at PNC Park is calibrated for the exploits of mere mortals and wasn’t prepared for the light-speed hit.
I don’t want to get too scientific here, but the friction created by the ball’s laces as it nearly ripped a wormhole in the space-time continuum actually created atomized sildenafil citrate. Okay, so that was actually more hypothetical alchemy. Still, how else do you describe fans’ reactions? Skeptics might say that the low wall in the left field corner helped, but that hit would have gone through the barrier had it been higher. Which would have made it a ground-rule double, so I guess the skeptics are right. This time.
Almora states his case
I’ve been advocating for Albert Almora’s inclusion on the playoff roster since before he got called back up, maybe before he got called up in the first place. His glove alone is worth having around, given that he’s the best outfielder on the team (yes, including Jason Heyward). Am I buyest (long story)? Yes, abolutely (longer story). I just love the idea of a guy who can steal hits and runs late in tight games. He’s the outfield equivalent of a high-leverage reliever.
Lest I present him as some kind of savant who can’t contribute at the plate, I want to make note of Almora’s 3-for-6 day at the plate too. He’s batting .276 at the highest level, which includes a not-at-all-ugly split of .250/.292 vs. LHP and RHP. Putting up 0.8 fWAR in only 42 games is pretty solid, particularly when many of those have come as a sub. Dude’s legit.
Hendricks and Lester Cy Young cases
See other posts today. Unless you’re reading this early and they’re not out yet, in which case you should read the other stuff that’s already up. Feel free to click ads for cool stuff too, thus granting me more ad revenue. On second thought, that could lead to a run-in with Jaso, so maybe never mind.