Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Cubs’

I’m sure by now you know that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. They had there parade yesterday in Chicago and they’re estimating that 5 million people attended. When Theo Epstein took over the Cubs in October of 2011 he torn the team down and rebuilt it. I’m not sure how many people remember this, but the Houston Astros started their rebuilding process a season before the Cubs did. The Astros did make a playoff appearance in 2015. They beat the New York Yankees 3-0 in the wild card game and advanced to the ALDS. The Astros had a 2 games to 1 lead in that series, but eventually lost 3 games to 2 to the Kansas City Royals. The Astros stumbled a bit last season finishing 3rd in the AL West with a record of 84-78. Since both of these teams where on the same track I thought we’d take a look at how they ended up being built.

In the 2010 draft the Astros took Delino Deshields Jr. #8 overall. The Cubs who weren’t rebuilding yet took Hayden Simpson with the 16th pick. Deshields Jr. never played for the Astros as the Texas Rangers selected him in the 2014 Rule 5 draft. Simpson never pitched above high Class-A and was out of baseball after the 2013 season. The Cubs had the #9 pick in the 2011 draft and they took Javier Baez. This was not a Epstein draft pick as he didn’t take the team over until October. The Astros selected George Springer two picks after Baez at #11. Baez has had short stint with the Cubs in 2014 and 2015, but in 2016 he played in 142 games. He’s been called a super utility player by the Cubs as he played all 4 infield spot and 2 games in leftfield. Baez was also named the Co-MVP of the NLCS. Springer also debut in 2014 and finished 8th on Rookie of the Year voting. He lost time to injury in 2015, but came back to play in all 162 games last season. It looks like both teams found long term players in this draft. In 2012 the Astros had the 1st pick in the draft and they used it on shortstop Carlos Correa. With the 6th pick in the draft the Cubs selected Alberto Almora Jr. Correa is considered one of the if not the best young shortstop in baseball. He debuted in 2015 playing in 99 games and winning the Rookie of the Year award. Almora Jr. saw his first major league action in the 2016 season playing in 47 games. Almora Jr. was on the Cubs post season roster; so he’ll get a ring. Correa looks to be a star for a long time, but the book is still out on Almora Jr. In the 2013 draft the Astros had the 1st pick and the Cubs where right behind them at #2. The Astros used that 1st pick on pitcher Mark Appel while the Cubs went with Kris Bryant. Appel has yet to make it to the major league. In December of 2015 the Astros traded Appel to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of a 7-player deal that brought reliever Ken Giles back to Houston. Appel was injured last season making 8 starts for Lehigh Valley the Phillies Triple-A team. After the issues of when Bryant should be brought up ended he went on to play 15 games in 2015 and win the Rookie of the Year award. Bryant has been an All-Star in both of his major league season and has a chance to be named the 2016 MVP. The Astros where able to turn Appel into relief help that they needed, but when you pick a guy #1 you expect him to anchor your staff for years. Bryant on the other hand looks to be a long time fixture in the middle of the Cubs line up. In the 2014 draft the Astros again had the #1 pick in the draft and they went pitching again taking Brady Aiken. The Cubs selecting 4th in the draft surprised everyone with the selection of Kyle Schwarber. Aiken and the Astros where never able to agree to contract terms. There was some issues over Aiken’s arm and he did end up having Tommy John surgery. Aiken ended up re-entering the in 2015 where the Cleveland Indians picked him in the 1st round with the 17th pick. Schwarber spent about a year and a half in the minors before being brought up to DH in an inter-league series. He did so well that he never went back to the minors. Schwarber ended up playing in 69 games in 2015. He only played 2 regular season games in 2016 because of a knee injury, but he made it back to be the Cubs DH in the World Series. I understand that the Astros didn’t want to pay a injured pitcher top dollar, but why did they draft him with the 1st pick then. The Bottom line with Schwarber is he can hit. If the Cubs can find a position for him he can be a big time run producer for them. Since Houston was unable to sign Aiken they received a compensation at #2 and then had their own pick at #5. With the 2nd pick the Astros took Alex Bregman and then with the 5th pick they selected Kyle Tucker. The Cubs had the 9th pick in this draft and took Ian Happ. Bregman made his major league debut last season paying in 49 games. Tucker is still working his way through the Astros minor league system. He spent most of the season in Class-A, but was moved up to High Class-A at the end of the season. Happ is also working his way to the big leagues. Happ started last season in High Class-a, but was called up to Double-A. While the jury is still out on both Tucker and Happ; Bregman has shown that he can play at the major league level and it’s been reported that the Astros may try him as their everyday leftfielder next season. As the teams improve you’ll notice there draft positions get lower. In last seasons draft the Cubs didn’t have a 1st round pick as it went to the St. Louis Cardinals for the Cubs signing of John Lackey. The Astros where picking at #17 and they selected Forrest Whitley. Obviously Whitley’s career is just beginning as he’s pitched in just 8 Rookie League games. It will be a few years before we know how this draft pick worked out for Houston.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the Cubs didn’t select one pitcher with a 1st round pick. The Astros have taken three and two didn’t work out. Appel is now with the Phillies. Aiken never signed and is now with the Indians and Whitley was just drafted.

So how did the Cubs build their starting rotation? Jon Lester was signed as a free agent to a 6-year $155 million dollar deal with an option for a 7th year in 2014. Jake Arrieta was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in a trade. John Lackey was signed as a free agent to a 2-year $32 million dollar deal before the 2016 season. Kyle Hendricks was acquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers and Jason Hammel was signed as a free agent to a 2-year $20 million dollar deal with an option for a 3rd year in 2014. Hammel has also factored in the Cubs success as he was part of the a trade that sent Hammel and Jeff Samardzjia to the Oakland A’s for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily. McKinney ended up being part of the deal with the New York Yankees that brought Aroldis Chapman.

It appears as though the question is do you draft pitching or do you sign pitching. Both have there draw backs. If you miss on a draft pick you get nothing out of that player, Now if you miss on a free agent signing paying a player big money who you’re not getting anything out of them. As teams try to rebuild; the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers started rebuilding this past season it will be interesting to see if they go the draft route with pitchers or if they’ll invest in free agents. Since most leagues are copycat leagues you have to expect that teams will look to sign starting pitching. Of course signing the right starting pitching will be the key to teams success.

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The Chicago Cubs offense got going last night and they cruised to a 9-3 victory in Game 6 of the World Series. The Cubs victory sets up a one game playoff for it all. It’s game 7 tonight in Cleveland.

Kris Bryant got the Cubs offense going in the top of the 1st as he hit a solo home run with 2 outs. Back to back singles by Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist brought up Addison Russell with two on and two out. Russell hit a fly ball to right centerfield that looked like it would be the third out of the inning. Indians rightfielder Lonnie Chisenhall and centerfield Tyler Naquin had a miscommunication and the ball fell in for a double. Rizzo scored easily and it took a tough slide by Zobrist into Indians catcher Roberto Perez insured he’d score. Going to the mound with w 3-run lead helped Jake Arrieta relax and he struck out 4 Indians in the first two innings. With one swing of the bat in the top of the 3rd inning the Cubs blew the game open. Kyle Schwarber drew a walk and then after the first out was made Rizzo and Zobrist out together back to back singles again. That brought up Russell with the bases loaded. Russell hit a grand slam to centerfield to give the Cubs a 7-0 lead. The Indians had their best scoring chance in the bottom of the 4th inning. Jason Kipnis doubled and then after a strikeout of Francisco Lindor,  Mike Napoli singled to center to bring Kipnis home. A hit batsmen and a walk loaded the bases for Cleveland, but another strikeout by Arrieta ended the threat with just 1 run being scored. Kipnis struck again as he hit a solo home run in the botton of the 5th to make it a 7-2 game. A walk to Chisenhall started the panic by Cubs manager Joe Maddon as Arrieta was removed for Mike Montgomery who got out of the inning. Montgomery hit a rough spot in the bottom of the 7th inning and with runners on 1st and 2nd with two outs he was removed for Aroldis Chapman. While Chapman got out of the inning it was another panic move by Maddon to use your closer with a 5-run lead. After building a lead the Cubs bats had kind of went silent against the Indians bullpen until the top of the 9th. After two outs Bryant singled. Rizzo came up next and hit a 2-run home run to rightfield to out the game away for the Cubs. For some unknown reason Chapman actually cane out to start the 9th inning. After walking the lead off man Chapman was finally taken out of the game. Pedro Strop came in and got the first guy he faced to fly out. The Strop threw a wild pitch and then gave up a single and a run scored. Jason Heyward made an almost perfect throw to 2nd base to nail Perez who was trying to stretch his hit into a double. After a walk Strop was pulled and Travis Wood came into the game to get the hot hitting Kipnis to foul out to short to end the game.

The Cubs out up 13 hits in the game with the 3 though 6 spots in the order getting 11 of them. Bryant was 4 for 5, Rizzo was 3 for 5, Zobrist was 2 for 4 and Russell was 2 for 5 with 6 RBI’s. Schwarber and Javier Baez had the Cubs other two hits. Rizzo drove in 2 with his home run and it was Bryant who had the Cubs other RBI.

The Indians had 6 hits in the game and Kipnis had 3 of them. Mike Napoli, Jose Ramirez and Perez each had one hit for Cleveland. Kipnis along with Napoli and Perez each had an RBI for Cleveland.

Arrieta went 5 2/3rd innings to get the win. He gave up 2 runs in 3 hits while walking 3 and striking out 9. Montgomery worked an inning giving up a hit and a walk. Chapman pitched 1 1/3rd innings giving up a run, a hit, a walk while getting one strikeout. Strop worked 2/3rd of an inning giving up a hit and a walk. Then Wood pitched the final 1/3rd of an inning.

Josh Tomlin lasted just 2 1/3rd innings giving up 6 runs on 6 hits while walking 1 batter. Dan Otero was the fist of five relievers used by the Indians. He pitched 2/3rd of an inning giving up a run on a hit. Danny Salazar pitched 2 innings giving up a hit and striking out 4. Jeff Manship went 2/3rd of an inning and allowed 1 hit and recorded a strikeout. Zach McAllister pitched 1 1/3rd innings giving up 2 hits. Mike Clevenger worked the final 2 innings for Cleveland and gave up 2 runs on 2 hits while walking 2 and striking out 1.

So we’re headed to a Game 7 with Kyle Hendricks making the start for the Cubs and Corey Kluber coming back a 3 days rest again for Cleveland. Hendricks went 4 1/3rd innings in his only World Series start. He gave up 6 hits walked 2 and struck out 6 while not giving up a run. Kluber is 2-0 in his 2 World Series starts covering 12 innings. Kluber has giving up 9 hits, 1 unearned run, 1 walk and has struck out 15 batters. It’s a good pitching match up for a Game 7.

There will be a lot of questions for Game 7. How much does Kluber have left? How quickly will Maddon panic (again) and pull Hendricks? Will the Cubs offense show up against Kluber? Will someone else besides Kipnis for Cleveland? We didn’t see Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen or Andrew Miller in Game 6; so they’ve had some extra rest and I’m sure they’ll all make a Game 7 appearance. Who in the Cubs bullpen does Maddon trust? Terry Francona has completely out managed Maddon in this World Series and will see if this will cost the Cubs. The Cubs are the better team, but Francona has made the moves to keep his team in the series with a chance to win. Maddon is running scared and making panic moves right and left. This is an advantage for Cleveland, but the Cubs have better talent and should win out.

So who do you have getting the win tonight? The Cleveland Indians or the Chicago Cubs?

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Baseball is definitely a tough sport to predict. For the first time in 71 years there was a World Series game at Wrigley Field and the weather cooperated. It was in the 60’s; not bad for late October and the wind was blowing out. It sure looked like we’d see some offense last night, but Josh Tomlin and Kyle Hendricks had other ideas.

Hendricks gave up two singles in the Top of the 1st, but struck out Mike Napoli looking to end the threat. Tomlin went 1,2,3 in the bottom of the inning. Both teams managed singles in the 2nd inning, but didn’t threaten. A two out walk in the 3rd didn’t amount to anything for Cleveland while Tomlin worked another 1,2,3 inning. The Indians had the first real threat of the game in the Top of the 4th inning. A lead off single and then a one out single had runners on 2nd and 3rd. A fielder’s choice put moved a runner to 3rd with two outs, but Hendricks struck out Roberto Perez to end the inning. Tomlin walked the lead off man in the bottom of the inning, but went 1,2,3 after that to end the inning. The Indians put together another threat in the Top of the 5th. A single, a sacrifice by Tomlin, a walk and a hit by pitch loaded the bases and ended Hendricks night after 4 1/3rd. Justin Grimm came out of the Cubs bullpen and induced a double play ground ball out of the Indians hottest hitter Francisco Lindor to end the scoring threat. A lead off single and two ground outs pout a Cubs runner on 3rd with two outs and the pitchers spot up. Miguel Montero came up to pinch hit and Andrew Miller came out of the Indians bullpen to face him. Montero looked over matched early in the at bat, but managed to hit a solid line drive, but it was right at the rightfielder for the final out of the inning. That closed the book on Tomlin after 4/2/3rd innings. Carl Edwards Jr. entered the game in the Top of the 6th and worked a 1,2,3 inning. Miller did the same in the bottom of the inning and we’re still 0-0 going into the 7th; who would’ve thought. A single, a sacrifice and a wild pitch out pinch runner Michael Martinez on 3rd with one out and the Indians where threatening again. Rajai Davis walked and Coco Crisp came up to pinch hit for Miller. Crisp singled to rightfield to drive in the only run of the night and out the Indians up 1-0. On the play Jorge Soler threw Davis out at 3rd for the 2nd out of the inning. Mike Montgomery came in top relieve Edwards Jr. and got Jason Kipnis to ground out to end the inning. Bryan Shaw came in to pitch the bottom of the inning and got two ground outs to start. Soler hit a wind aided triple down the rightfield line and the Cubs had a chance. Jason Heyward came in to run for Soler, but Shaw got Javier Baez to ground out to end the inning. Montgomery got the first out of the 8th inning and then was replaced by Pedro Stop who retired the next two hitters. Shaw got the first two outs in the bottom of the inning, but a Dexter Fowler singled chased Shaw and Cody Allen came in to try to get the 4 out save. Allen struck out Kris Bryant to end the 8th inning. Aroldis Chapman entered to pitch the Top of the 9th. Chapman struck out the first two batters he faced and then got a ground out for a 1,2,3 inning. Anthony Rizzo singled to lead off the bottom of the 9th and was pinch ran for by Chris Coghlan. A strikeout and a ground out moved Coghlan to 2nd with two outs, Heyward got an infield single to move Coghlan to 3rd, Heyward stole second; so the Cubs had the winning run on the bases with Baez at the plate. Allen struck out Baez to end the game. You could’ve never convinced me that this would be a 1-0 game, but it was and the Indians got the win and have taken a 2 games to 1 lead in the series.

Miller picked up the win pitching 1 1/3rd innings with Allen getting the save. Edwards Jr. ended up being the tough luck loser in this one. The Indians had 8 hits in the game with Lindor and Jose Ramirez each getting two hits apiece. The Cubs had 5 hits in the game with Soler being the only player with more than one hit.

Cleveland will look to take a commanding lead in the series as their ace Corey Kluber takes the mound. Kluber was the Game 1 winner pitching 6 innings giving up 4 hits and striking out 9. Kluber has made 4 post season starts and is 3-1 with an ERA of 0.74. The Cubs turn to veteran John Lackey who is making his first start of this World Series. Lackey has made two post season starts and hasn’t had a decision, but his ERA is 5.63. Can Kluber pitch the Indians to a 3 games to 1 lead or will the veteran Lackey even the series for the Cubs?

Not that it’s anything new, but Russell Westbrook had a triple-double last night. The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Phoenix Suns 113-110 in overtime with Westbrook leading the way. Westbrook put up 51 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. It’s the first time since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 1975 that a player scored 50 or more points in a triple-double. Westbrook played 45 minutes in the game and took 44 shots while recording his 1st triple-double of the season and 39th of his career. Westbrook led the NBA in triple-doubles last season with 18. It was the second triple-double of the NBA season as LeBron James had one opening night against the New York Knicks.

Besides Westbrook’s big night Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans followed up his 50 point opening night by outing up 45 points last night against the Golden State Warriors. Davis has had double-doubles in both games as well. He had 17 rebounds ion the opening game and 15 last night. Davis is also playing a lot of minutes to start the season. He played 41 in the first game and 40 last night. Sadly his big numbers haven’t helped the Pelicans win a game. They lost opening night to the Denver Nuggets 107-102 and last night the Warriors beat them 122-114. The Pelicans will look for their first win of the season tonight in San Antonio as they face the 2-0 Spurs. How many points will Davis score tonight?

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During the regular season the Chicago Cubs tied for 14th in baseball with a batting average of .256. They finished 13th in home runs with 199. They struck out the 9th most in baseball with 1339 strikeouts, but they led baseball in walks with 656.

In the post season combined the Cubs are hitting .185; that’s 8th out of the 10 teams that made the playoffs. The New York Mets are 9th at .133 and the Baltimore Orioles are 10th at .100. Of course the Mets and the Orioles only had 1 post season game to put up their numbers. The Cubs have had 7 post season games. The Cubs have 7 post season home runs. That’s the lowest number of the 4 teams still playing. They’ve struck out 63 times in the post season which is 3rd out of the 4 teams still playing. Only the Cleveland Indians have struck out less than the Cubs. They’ve walked 17 times which is 3rd again they are ahead of the Cleveland Indians out of the teams still in the post season.

You can see how things have really went down in the playoffs. Now the Cubs are facing better pitching in every game than they would in the regular season. There’s a reason why people say “Good pitching beats good hitting”. Now after putting up 8 runs in Game 1 it looked as though the Cubs might be out of there slump. 7 innings of Clayton Kershaw and 2 innings of Kenley Jansen put the Cubs bats right back into a slump as they combined to shut them out and even the series at 1 game apiece. In Game 3 last night the Cubs failed to score again. This time it was 6 innings of Rich Hill, an innings of Joe Blanton, 2/3rd of an inning from Grant Dayton and an inning and 1/3 from Jansen that did the job as the Dodgers took the game 6-0.

We’re moving on to Game 4 tonight and the Cubs are turning to veteran John Lackey to try and even the series at 2 games apiece. Lackey was 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA during the season. Lackey lasted 4 innings and gave up 3 runs while getting a no decision in his NLDS series start. The Dodgers are going with 20-year old rookie Julio Urias as their Game 4 starter. Urias was 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA in the regular season. Urias has not made a post season start, but did come in in relief and threw 2 scoreless innings. Is it a must win for the Cubs tonight? If they where to lose Game 4 tonight would they see Kershaw as the Game 5 starter in Dodgers stadium to try and close out the series.

The Toronto Blue Jays got there first win in Game 4 of the ALCS 5-1 over the Cleveland Indians. Aaron Sanchez went 6 innings giving up 1 run on 2 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5. Brett Cecil, Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna all pitched an inning after Sanchez. None of them allowed a run while Cecil and Osuna each struck out 2 batters. Corey Kluber made the start for the Indians. He lasted 5 innings giving up 2 runs on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7. Dan Otero worked a scoreless inning out of the Cleveland bullpen, but Bryan Shaw really struggled. Shaw pitched just 1/3rd of an inning and gave up 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned and walked 1. Mike Clevinger followed Shaw and gave up 1 run on 1 hit while walking 1 and striking out 1 over an 1 2/3rd.

Josh Donaldson provided some power for the Blue Jays going 1 for 3 with a solo home run. Edwin Encarnacion went 2 for 4 and drove in 2 runs. Ezequiel Carrera had 2 hits; one being a triple and drove in a run. Kevin Pillar had the other RBI for the Blue Jays. The Indians only had two hits in the game and they where both doubles. Tyler Naquin had one and Roberto Perez had the other with Perez’s double driving in the Indians run.

Marco Estrada comes back to start Game 5 for the Blue Jays. Estrada pitched a complete game in Game 1, but took the loss. Estrada gave up 2 runs on 6 hits over 8 innings in Game 1. The Indians are going with Ryan Merritt as their Game 5 starter. Merritt has one career start and 11 career innings all this past season. Can the Blue Jays even the series? Or will there season be over after Game 5.

Mr. Fantasy had a very good Week 6 in our pick contest going 12-3 to take the win for the week, Schaumburg Stu and I tied at 9-6 while Dan the Man was a game behind us at 8-7. Overall for the season Schaumburg Stu is still in the lead at 56-36. Dan the Man is in 2nd with a record of 52-40. Then it’s Mr. Fantasy and I tied at 48-44 on the season. We’ll see if someone has a big Week 7.

It looks like the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be without there starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for to 6 weeks. Roethlisberger had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Steelers where informed of the timetable by Dr. James Bradley who performed Roethlisberger’s surgery on Monday. Pittsburgh was hoping to have Roethlisberger back by Week 9, but it looks like it’s going to be a little longer before he can return. Roethlisberger has thrown 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions while totaling 1685 yards while completing 64.2% of his passes. The Steelers are 4-2 and if it’s just 4 weeks that Roethlisberger misses he’ll miss this week’s games at home against the New England Patriots. Pittsburgh’s bye week is Week 8. Then there’s a road game against the Baltimore Ravens and then a home game against the Dallas Cowboys. If it’s 6 weeks Roethlisberger is going to  miss you can add road games against the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts. The 1st place Steelers turn to Landry Jones as their starter. Jones is 1-1 in 2 career starts, but has played in 11 career games. Jones has 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in his career and completes 57.1% of his passes. Can the Steelers hold on to 1st place while “Big” Ben is out? If he misses 6 weeks or 5 games; what will the Steelers record be in the game Roethlisberger misses?

Listen to Sports Time Radio on BlogTalkRadio.com the podcast is also available any time at TuneIn.com

You can find me on Twitter @Burketime

The Cleveland Indians took Game 1 of the ALCS 2-0 over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night. Corey Kluber showed why he was a Cy Young candidate pitching 6 1/3rd innings of shutout baseball against a very good hitting Blue Jays line up. After Kluber the Indians went to their bullpen; first to Andrew Miller to hold the game for and 1 1/3rd innings and to closer Cody Allen for a 1 inning save and a 1-0 lead in the series. Kluber gave up 6 hits and walked 2 while striking out 6 batters. Kluber’s pitch total piled up as he reached 100 pitches over his 6 1/3rd innings. Miller did give up a hit, but struck out 5 while Allen struck out 1 batters in his inning of work.

The Blue Jays got very good pitching out of Marco Estrada, but just couldn’t give him any runs to work with. Estrada saved the Blue Jays bullpen pitching an 8 inning complete game. Estrada gave up 2 runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 6. A 2-run home run by Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor  in the bottom of the 6th inning was the only real mistake Estrada made. Estrada was able to get through the game on just 101 pitches.

The Indians got 6 hits in the game and 3 of them where by Lonnie Chisenhall. Interestingly Chisenhall got his 3 hits while seeing just 4 pitches. Lindor was 2 for 3 with a run scored and 2 RBI’s. Carlos Santana had the other Indians hit while Jason Kipnis scored the other run after he walked in front of the Lindor home run.

The Blue Jays got 7 hits in the game with 2 Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders each getting 2 hits a piece. One of Encarnacion’s hits was a double. Troy Tulowitzki had the other hit for Toronto. The Blue Jays may be dealing with an injury as 2nd baseman Devon Travis left the game in the bottom of the 5th inning with what was being called a right knee injury.

The teams turn right around for Game 2 this afternoon. Toronto is sending 20-game winner J.A. Happ to the mound to try to even the series while the Indians are going with Josh Tomlin as their Game 2 starter. Originally Trevor Bauer was going to get the Game 2 start for Cleveland, but he cut the pinky on his throwing finger and needed stitches. Because of the injury Bauer has been moved back to Game 3.

The NLCS gets started tonight with the Chicago Cubs hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers. In a must win situation in Game 5 of the NLDS the Dodgers pulled out all the stops. Closer Kenley Jansen pitched 2 1/3rd innings in the game while throwing 51 pitches; so there’s a good chance he won’t be available for a closing situation tonight. Then after making a start on 3-days rest Clayton Kershaw came in to get the save in Game 5. Kershaw did only throw 7 pitches in the game, but he had to warm up and again he was coming off a start he had made on 3-days rest. So taking this all into consideration the Cubs should have a big advantage in Game 1 and maybe even in the series. The Dodgers are going with Kenta Maeda as their Game 1 starter. Maeda took the loss in Game 3 of the NLDS. He lasted just 3 innings and gave up 4 runs. The Cubs in contrast where able to set up their starting rotation and will go with Jon Lester in Game 1. Lester threw 8 shutout innings while picking up the win in Game 1 of the NLDS. There was some talk yesterday that Kershaw will try to come back for Game 2, but that it would be for just 5 or 6 innings. While the Dodgers are scrambling the Cubs are set. They know that it’s Kyle Hendricks in Game 2, Jake Arrieta in Game 3 and John Lackey in Game 4. Not only is the rotation set, but the Cubs will have a full bullpen to use if needed. That has to be a big plus for the Cubs coming into this series.

Now both teams have some hitters they’d like to see get going in this series. While Corey Seager did hit 2 home runs in the series against Washington his average was just .130. Adrian Gonzalez homered in the NLDS as well, but his average was just .200. Chase Utley at .188 and Yasmani Grandal at .125 are two other players the Dodgers would like to see start hitting. On the Cubs side both Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell where 1 for 15 (.067) in the NLDS series. Jason Heyward’s hitting struggles continued into the first round of the playoffs as he hit .083 in the NLDS. Dexter Fowler at .133 and Ben Zobrist at .188 are two other guys the Cubs would like to see get going in this series against the Dodgers. Both teams where able to advance with these hitters struggling, but it could make things so much easier for them of a few or even better all of them could get on some type of hot streak even for a game or two.

We had our fantasy hockey draft last Saturday night and I was pretty happy with the way my team came out. Then the injury bug hit me right before the season started and then into the first couple of games. I grabbed defenseman Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins late in our draft. It’s a category league and he is a solid plus minus guy though his career. Miller broke his ankle right before the season started and needed surgery on it. Miller is scheduled to be out 6 to 8 weeks. Then the season started and Evander Kane of the Buffalo Sabres went crashing into the boards in their first game of the season and cracked 3 ribs. There’s no real timetable for Kane’s return as Sabres head coach was quoted as saying “It’s weeks, depending on the severity, and in the oblique area it’s something you’re going to deal with even when you come back with the rotation and the discomfort.” Then believe it or not I picked up one more injury. In the first game of his season Bryan Little of the Winnipeg Jets collided with Bryan Bickel of the Carolina Hurricanes and got hurt. Little has a Lower Body Injury and is expected to be out an indefinite period of time. Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said “We’ll have a better idea of just how long in a couple weeks.” So it’s going to be weeks before they even know how long Little will be out. Hopefully your fantasy hockey season didn’t get off to the same type of start mine did. Looks like I need to get on the waiver wire.

You can listen to Sports Time Radio on BlogTalkRadio.com or you can go and listen to the podcast any time you’d like on TuneIn.com

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Let’s call it Wednesday

Posted: October 12, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, football, hockey, sports
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Week 5 of the NFL season is in the books and our pick contest continues to roll along. Schaumburg Stu won Week 5 with a record of 10-4. Dan the Man, Mr. Fantasy and I all finished Week 5 at 8-6. On the season Schaumburg Stu is in the lead with a record of 47-30. Dan the Man is in 2nd at 44-33. I’m holding down the 3rd spot with a record of 39-38 while Mr. Fantasy is in the cellar at 36-41. We’re off to Week 6.

The Chicago Cubs used 4 runs in the top of the 9th against a terrible San Francisco Giants bullpen to win their NLDS series 3 games to 1. Down 5-2 going into the 9th inning it looked like this series was headed back to Wrigley Field for a Game 5 on Friday. Derek Law was on the mound to start the 9th inning, but after a single by Kris Bryant he was removed for left handed specialist Javier Lopez. Lopez didn’t do his job as he walked the left handed hitting Anthony Rizzo and was taken out of the game for Sergio Romo. Ben Zobrist greeted Romo  with a double to score Bryant and advance Rizzo to 3rd. Chris Coghlin was announced as the pinch hitter for Addison Russell; so the Giants countered by bringing Will Smith into the game to pitch. The Cubs countered that move by Putting Wilson Contreras in for Coghlin. Contreras singled off of Smith as both Rizzo and Zobrisy scored to tie the game 5-5. Jason Heyward bunted badly into a fielders choice, but a throwing error by Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford allowed Heyward to move up to 2nd base. Giants manager Bruce Bochy made a double switch as Gorkys Hernandez entered the game to play leftfield and Hunter Strickland was brought in to face Javier Baez. Baez singled to centerfield to score Heyward and give the Cubs the lead at 6-5. The top of the 9th finally ended as David ross hit into a double play, but by that time the Cubs had scored 4 runs on 4 hits and with the help of 1 Giants error had taken the lead.

The Cubs made some defensive moves to start the bottom of the 9th inning. Zobrist moved to 2nd base, Contreras stayed in the game in leftfield and Baez moved to shortstop. In the end none of those moves mattered as Hernandez, Denard Span and Brandon Belt all struck out swinging against Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman.

The Cubs now wait until Saturday to host the winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers/Washington Nationals series in Game 2 of the NLCS. The Dodgers/Nationals series is headed back to Nationals Park for Game 5 on Thursday. The Dodgers forced a Game 5 by picking up a 6-5 at home in Game 4 yesterday.

Clayton Kershaw made the Game 4 start for the Dodgers on 3-days rest. Kershaw pitched 6 2/3rd innings giving up 5 runs on 7 hits. He struck out 11 and walked 2 while throwing 110 pitches. Kershaw left the game with the bases loaded in the top of the 7th inning. Pedro Baez hit Jason Werth to force home a run and was removed from the game. Luis Avilian then gave up a single to Daniel Murphy bringing in 2 runs and tying the game at 5 apiece. Kershaw ended up with a no decision, but he ;left the bullpen in a tough spot. A Chase Utley single off Washington reliever Blake Treinen in the bottom of the 8th inning drove in the game winning run for the Dodgers. Kenley Jansen picked up the save for the Dodgers working the bottom of the 9th. Jansen struck out the first two batters of the innings and then Bryce Harper grounded out to 2nd base for the final out of the game.

With the lead in the series the Nationals choose to hold back Max Scherzer. Now they have Scherzer on regular rest for the Game 5 at home. Los Angeles turns to Rich Hill to make the Game 5 start. Scherzer took the loss in Game 1. He pitched 6 innings giving up 4 runs on 5 hits while striking out 5. Hill was the losing pitcher in Game 2. He pitched 4 1/3rd innings giving up 4 runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7. Who do you have winning Game 5 and moving on to the NLCS?

Did you have both of the American League series ending in 3-game sweeps. Maybe you did, but I bet you didn’t have the teams right. The Toronto Blue Jays easily handled the Texas Rangers in their series to advance to the ALCS. Then it was the Cleveland Indians who where missing 2 of their top 3 starting pitchers sweeping the Boston Red Sox out of the playoffs. The Rangers did have the best record in the American League and while they where a bit of a favorite coming into the series with the Blue Jays; it’s not a huge shock that Toronto won the series. It’s a bit of a surprise that they swept, but not that they won it. In the other series the Red Sox should be nothing, but embarrassed. I can understand Game 2 as Corey Kluber is one of the top pitchers in baseball, but they got beat on games started by Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Both back of the rotation guys that the Indians where forced to use due to injuries to Carlos Carresco and Danny Salazar.

The only Red Sox who showed up in the series where Brock Holt who hit .400 with a home run and rookie Andrew Benintendi who hit .333 with a home run. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit .100, David Ortiz hit .111, Dustin Pedroia hit .167 and Mookie Betts hit .200. These big Red Sox hitters where shut down by a guy in Bauer who had an ERA of 4.26 this season and Tomlin who came in with an ERA of 4.40 for the season. The Red Sox where the trendy pick to win it all coming into the playoffs, but I’m sure those guys who where on that bandwagon won’t admit to being there right now.

The NHL season get sup and running tonight with 4 games on the schedule. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators will be the first two team s to drop the puck tonight. Then it’s the St. Louis Blues at the Chicago Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames at the Edmonton Oilers and the night wraps up with the Los Angeles Kings at the San Jose Sharks.

You can listen to Sports Time Radio on BlogTalkRadio.com or you can find the podcast any time you’d like at TuneIn.com

I’m on Twitter @Burketime

 

The division series have started in the MLB playoffs. The National League has one game under it’s belt while the American League teams have played two and are on a travel day today.

We’re going to work backwards here as the last game of the day was the best game of the day. The Chicago Cubs got past the San Francisco Giants in a pitchers duel 1-0. Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto both showed why they are Cy Young Award contenders as they pitched shut out baseball for 8 innings. Cueto was great pitching 8 innings giving up 3 hits and 1 run while striking out 10 and not walking anyone. They one mistake Cueto made was giving up a solo home run to Javier Baez in the bottom of the 8th inning for the only run of the game. Lester was on his game as well as he pitched 8 innings giving up 5 hits and striking out 5 while not allowing a walk or a run. Aroldis Chapman came in to pitch the bottom of the 9th and get the save. Game 2 is today 7:00 p.m. CST as Kyle Hendricks and Jeff Samardzjia are the starting pitchers as the Cubs look to go up 2-0 in the series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers took the first game of their division series 4-3 over the Washington Nationals. All the scoring in this game happened pretty early. The Dodgers got to Max Scherzer for 4 runs in the first 3 innings. The Nationals got back into the game putting up 3 runs on Clayton Kershaw over the first 4 innings of the game. Just as it looked like we where in for a high scoring game the runs stopped scoring. Kershaw picked up the win pitching giving up 8 hits and 3 runs while walking 1 and striking out 7. The Dodgers bullpen shut the Nationals down over the final 4 innings. Joe Blanton pitched 2/3rds of an inning walking 1. Grant Dayton also pitched 2/3rds of an inning walking 1 and striking out 1. Pedro Baez worked an inning then Kenley Jansen came in to get the save. Jensen gave up 1 hit I his inning of work. Scherzer went 6 innings for the Nationals giving up 4 runs on 5 hits while striking out 5. The Dodgers did get to Scherzer for 2 hone runs in the game. The Nationals bullpen matched the Dodgers bullpen as they didn’t allow a run either. Sammy Solis pitched 2 innings giving up 1 hit while walking1 and striking out 1. Nationals closer Mark Melancon got an inning of work in the game. Melancon gave up 2 hits, walked 1 and struck out 3 in his inning of work. Game 2 has a 3:00 p.m. scheduled start time as Rich Hill gets the start for the Dodgers and the Nationals turn to Tanner Roark to try to draw them even in the series.

In both American League series teams took 2 games to 0 leads, but I’m not sure they’re the teams the experts thought they would be. The Toronto Blue Jays went into Texas and swept the Rangers in the first two games of their division series. The Cleveland Indians held home field advantage as they won the first two games of their series against the Boston Red Sox.

The Blue Jays put up 10 runs in Game 1 of the series for a 10-1 win. Game 2 saw the Blue Jays get a little closer win at 5-3. Most if not all of the experts had the Rangers as the favorite in these first two games as they had Cole Hamels as their Game 1 starter and then Yu Darvish ready for Game 2. Hamels lasted just 3 1/3rd innings in Game 1. Hamels gave up 6 runs. walked 3 and struck out 1 in his start. Hamels was totally out pitched by Marco Estrada who went 8 1/3rd innings giving up 1 run and striking out 6 for Toronto. Darvish struggled as well pitching 5 inning giving up 5 hits and 5 runs while walking 1 and striking out 4. Darvish gave up 4 home runs in his 5 innings. 20-game winner J.A. Happ was the Game 2 starter for the Blue Jays and while he didn’t pitch great he pitched good enough to win with the support he got. Happ went 5 innings; he gave up 1 run on 9 hits while walking 1 and striking out 5. Troy Tulowitzki has been the breakout hitter in the first two games for Toronto. “Tulo” has a triple and a home run while hitting .556 with 5 RBI’s. The series heads to Toronto for Game 3 on Sunday. American League ERA leader Aaron Sanchez  (3.00) gets the start for the Blue Jays as the rangers turn to Colby Lewis to try and keep their season alive.

In a surprise the Indians used Trevor Bauer as their Game  starter. Corey Kluber has been battling an injury and was pushed back to Game 2 to give him some extra rest. With Cy Young favorite and 22-game winner Rick Porcello line up to start Game 1 the Red Sox looked like a heavy favorite. Bauer didn’t have a shut down type of outing, but he kept the Indians in the game and their bats came through. Bauer pitched 4 2/3rd innings giving up 3 runs on 6 hits while striking out 6. Cleveland went to there bullpen set up of Andrew Miller 2 innings and the win, Bryan Shaw who gave up a run in 2/3rds of an inning and Cody Allen 1 1/3rd of an inning getting the save as they took Game 1. Porcello pitched 4 1/3 innings giving up 5 runs on 6 hits with 3 of those hits being home runs while striking out 6. Drew Pomeranz 2 1/3rd innings, Joe Kelly 1/3rd of an inning and Koji Uehara 1 inning didn’t allow a run, but the Red Sox where unable to pull of a comeback win and the Indians took Game 1 5-4. The extra day of rest really helped Kluber, He pitched 7 innings giving up 3 hits and while he did walk 3 batters he didn’t allow a run and stuck out 7. The Red Sox countered with David Price who has had his post seasons struggles and they continued yesterday. Price lasted just 3 1/3rd innings giving up 5 runs on 6 hits; one of them a home run. Price walked 2 and struck out 3 as he fell to 0-8 in his post season career. Dan Otero and Bryan Shaw each pitched a scoreless inning in Game 2 to lock down the Indians 6-0 win and a 2-0 lead in the series. The series shifts to Boston Sunday at 3:00 p.m.for a must win Game 3 for the Red Sox. Clay Buchholz will be called on to keep the Red Sox season alive at home while Josh Tomlin is the Game 3 starter for the Indians.

Admit it you didn’t have the Blue Jays or the Indians winning the first two games of their series. Now the question is will we see either the Rangers or the Red Sox be swept out of the playoffs.

Tonight is the Sports Time Radio fantasy hockey draft. It’s an auction style draft and since we’re a Chicago based league we’ll see how much some of the Blackhawks go for. I’ve had some success in fantasy hockey and while I haven’t won the league yet maybe this will be my year. I am woefully unprepared. With the baseball playoffs going on I’ve been distracted, but I have stayed up to date with the injuries; so that should help me out. The draft is at 7:15 p.m. tonight; so I have some time to still get ready. Wish me luck.

You can listen to the Sports Time Radio podcast on BlogTalkRadio.com you can also find the podcast any time you want at TuneIn.com

You can find me on Twitter @Burketime

How was your Week

Posted: September 17, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in Auto Racing, baseball, NASCAR, sports
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The Chicago Cubs became the first team to clinch a playoff spot when the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals last Thursday night. You can call it a back in or however else you want to describe it, but with the lead the Cubs had in the division it they where going to win it one way or another.

The Cubs have 15 games left and there’s some good and some bad in that. The good of course is you can get your starting rotation set up in the order you want it. Another good thing is that you can get players like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo some rest heading into the playoffs. Both Bryant and Rizzo have played in 142 games heading into this afternoon’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. These last 15 games will also give the coaching staff a chance to look at the guys they’ll want to carry on the playoff roster. There’s always that last spot or two left on the playoff roster and while it may not matter as these players may not see the field you never know. The Cubs will also have a chance to get guys healthy. Jorge Soler left yesterday’s game with an injury that was reported as not being serious, but either way he’ll have time to get back to 100%. Pedro Strop should be returning soon and he’ll have some games to get ready to go for the playoffs.

There isn’t a ton of bad that goes with clinching early, but I think there are things that you have look out for. You have to make sure you don’t get complacent while your off. There is such a thing as too much rest; so you have to make sure the regulars stay sharp. I think the biggest thing that the Cubs will have to watch out for is when you have this type of lead and you get to cruise down the stretch is turning it back on again when the games count. You can add injuries in here, but you just never know when an injury is going to come up; so you can’t count that. Again there aren’t huge negatives with clinching early; it’s just stuff that the Cubs will have to look out for down the stretch.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup starts tomorrow at the Chicagoland Speedway with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400. There are 16 drivers who either won a race or qualified on points to make at Top 16. Chase Grid  Qualifying is this afternoon; so we don’t know who’s going to be on the pole, but they did have a practice session yesterday. Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest practice time, but there where four other Chase drivers right behind him. Carl Edwards was 2nd fastest with Denny Hamlin 3rd, Brad Keslowski 4th and Chase Elliott 5th. The NASCAR playoffs are starting.

We have our fantasy hockey draft coming pretty soon and while I know the top names I have a difficult time as the draft winds down finding that guy who can really help my team. It’s an auction style league; so there is some strategy on who to nominate when and try to make sure you land the guy you wanted. I found a couple of names that I think could help out a fantasy team later in the draft and I’m wondering what you think of them.

Nick Bjugstad of the Florida Panthers. Bjugstad is coming off an injury plagued season in 2015-16. He played in 67 games and put up 34 points last season. Can he get back to the player that led the Panthers in goals like he did in 2014-15.

Thomas Vanek scored 18 goals and 23 assists with the Minnesota Wild last season. In July the Detroit Red Wings signed Vanek 1-year $2.6 million dollar contract. Vanek will be looked upon to halp replace Pavel Datsyuk. Vanek has scored 40 goals twice in his NHL career and is it possible he gets close to that with the Red Wings.

Maybe I could sneak a young rookie defenseman through in the draft. How about someone like Nikita Zaitsev. Zaitsev played the last 3 season in the KHL for CSKA Moscow. He was a KHL All-Star in 2015 and 2016 as well as being named IIHF World Championship All-Star team in 2016. I know it’s tough for a rookie to make a big impact on defense, but this is a player who while considered a rookie isn’t really a rookie. Hopefully the Toronto Maple Leafs can find some ice time for him.

There’s a couple of names I’m looking at. Feel free to send me a name or two your looking at later in your draft.

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You can find me on Twitter @Burketime

 

It appears to start off great with a leadoff home run to Dexter Fowler.  But just as quickly as the inning is over, like Tyler Anderson, Kyle Hendricks gives up a leadoff home run in the bottom half of the first to David Dahl.  In the top of the third, Kyle grabs a one out single and with two outs, Kris Bryant also singles.  Anthony Rizzo also singles to score Kyle to put the Cubs up by one.  The Cubs score again in the fifth as Bryant singles in Baez who walked, advanced on a sac bunt and stole third.  Addison Russell drives Rizzo on his 15th home run of the year.  Cubs are now up 5-1.  

Travis Wood joins the Cubs in the seventh, he gives up a two out double to Daniel Descalo who scores on a fielding error by Bryant on Nick Hundley’s ground ball.  In the eighth, after giving up a walk and a single, wood is out and Carl Edwards, Jr enters the game and gives up a ground ball to DJ LeMahieu that goes down the line that is ruled as a ground rule double due to fan interference.  Carlos Gonzalez ground out but another run scores.  Nolan Arenado flys out to left and DJ would attempt to score but is gunned down by Matt Szczur.  The Rockies challenge and it’s overturned for a tie game.  

We go to 11 innings and Aroldis Chapman enters the game getting the first out.  He then gives up a single to Nick Hundley who ends the game scoring on Ryan Raburn’s walk off double.  Not a great start for this trip out west but it’s only one game.   

Go Cubs Go!

Dan the Man

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In the series finale with the Brew Crew, Jake Arrieta takes to the mound searching for his 15th win of the season.  He is 1 – 0 against the Brewers seeing them last in April.  He takes on Zach Davies who faced the Cubs last on July 23 and took the W.

Today would see another great start at the plate for the Cubs but not so great for Davies as he only goes four innings.  In the first inning, he gives up a single to Kris Bryant, then a double to Anthony Rizzo.  Bryant scores on Ben Zobrist’s ground out to first.  Rizzo scores on Addison Russell’s single to center.  The third inning would start with Matt Szczur leading off with a single and then being brought home Byrant’s 29th home run of the season.  With two outs and two men on, Wilson Contreras doubles to right bringing in Zo for the fifth run of the day.  In the fourth, Szczur leads off with a double and scores on Bryants double.  Bryant then scores on Rizzo’s double.  The Cubs have earned 7 runs after four innings.

Jake would get through the first three innings with only one walk.  In the top of the fourth he would give up two, two out walks then gives up a three run homer to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, his 11th of the year.  He gets out of the fourth but  after four innings the Cubs are up 7 – 3.  Jake gives up two more walks in the fifth inning but retires the next three batters to get out of the inning.  He does however give up a leadoff home run to Hernan Perez in the top of the sixth and walks Chris Carter for the second time.  He gets the next two outs but then gives up back to back walks to Ramon Flores and Keon Broxton.  With the bases loaded, Maddon decides to bring in Spencer Patton who gives up an RBI base on balls to Jonathan Villar but gets out of the inning.

The bottom of the sixth, Craig Counsel decides to bring in Blaine Boyer who gets out of the inning but not before giving up a solo homerun to Kris Bryant for his second of the day and his 30th on the year.  The Cubs are now up, 8 – 5.  Spencer Patton remains in the game for the seventh and makes it a five pitch inning as does Carlos Torres in the bottom half of the inning.

Patton remains in for the top of the eighth and gives up a leadoff double to Kirk Nieuwenhuis who scores on Ramon Flores’s one out ground out.  Patton walks pinch hitter Manny Pina and that would be enough as Justin Grimm enters the game.  He gives up a single to Villar but gets Scooter Gennett to ground out to Rizzo to end the inning and we go to the bottom half of the eighth.  Corey Knebel joins the game and his first batter is Javier Baez who grabs a single to leadoff.  With one out, Matt Szczur walks to bring up Kris Bryant who has two homeruns today.  He sends a line drive to left field driving in Baez and going 5 for 5 today picking up his 78th RBI.  Rizzo and Zobrist fly out to end the inning.

We go to the top of the ninth with Aroldis Chapman taking to the mound for another save opportunity.  He strikes out Ryan Braun for the first out.  Hernan Perez next up and he singles.  Chapman gets Chris Carter to strike out for out number two.  Nieuwenhuis grounds out to end the game giving Chapman his 27th save of the year and the Cubs get their 13th sweep of the season!

Go Cubs Go!

Dan the Man

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