Trade deadline fallout

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We’ve already heard about who was traded, what could have been, and who the winners and losers are, but here’s my take on just some of the fallout from around the league:


– Edwin Encarnacion going to the Blue Jays might be the best thing that possibly could have happened to him. As I wrote last weekend,
I thought the trade was a brutal idea from the Reds’ perspective, and I
hold true to that, but Encarnacion benefits big-time with this trade,
moving over to an organization where he has a real chance to flourish.
He’ll never be a great play with the glove, and a move to the outfield
or first base would serve him well in the future, but don’t be
surprised to see a 30-HR, 100 RBI season in short order.

– With Nick Johnson headed to Florida, Adam Dunn figures to see most
of his time at first base now (at least he can hide a little bit over
there), with Elijah Dukes being called up for another opportunity in
the outfield. One interesting tidbit, don’t discount Josh Willingham at
first base. He played the eighth and ninth innings of Friday’s game

– Before Kenny Williams shocked the baseball world with the Jake
Peavy trade, Victor Martinez was the big fish of the day. He joins a
crowded C/1B/3B/DH scenario in Boston with Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell,
Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and the newly-acquired Casey Kotchman all
itching for at-bats. It’s a stroke of genius by Theo Epstein and an
embarassment of riches for manager Terry Francona. This way he can keep
Lowell and Tek’ fresh for a run at the post-season, while playing
matchups as he sees fit without losing much offensively. That said, for
the fantasy baseball set, it’s a mess. You hate the Red Sox right now.

– With Jeff Clement tearing up minor league pitching — he slugged
two homers in his debut for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night —
this might be Steve Pearce’s last chance to make it in the Pirates
organization. Now 26-years-old, the former top-prospect will get the
majority of starts at first base with Adam LaRoche out of the way.
Pearce has 89 homers in 517 career minor league games, but a
.256/.310/.411 line through 219 at-bats in the majors have critics
deeming him your classic AAAA hitter. Pirates’ fans hope he’s more like
the player they saw last September (four homers in 51 at-bats). We’ll

– Now that Orlando Cabrera was shipped off to Minnesota, 2005
first-round pick Cliff Pennington gets the call from Triple-A
Sacramento. Just to show you how far the 2004 Rookie of the Year Bobby
Crosby has fallen, Athletics general manager Billy Beane said that
Pennington will get “the benefit of a long trial” at the position. But
with a .242 batting average in 99 at-bats in the majors and a
.264/.345/.367 line at Sacramento this season, the jury is out on
Pennington, too.

– Calling himself a closer by “default,” Jim Johnson will take over
ninth-inning duties in Baltimore now that George Sherrill calls
Mannywood home. He’s probably right. The 3.25 ERA over his first two
seasons looks great — as does the 55.6 career groundball rate. But
without the benefit of a pure strikeout pitch, Johnson has averaged
just 5.46 K/9 over his first 98 games in the majors. Likewise, his 3.61
BB/9 doesn’t breed much confidence. Expect some sweaty palms in

– One more note on the Pirates, since they’ve had so much turnover
recently. Delwyn Young, once heralded as a top prospect in the Dodgers
organization, is very quietly batting .310/.375/.420 with four home
runs and 22 RBI in 174 at-bats with the Pirates this season. Without a
suitable replacement for Freddy Sanchez in the Pittsburgh pipeline, the
27-year-old will get a good look-see at second base. That said, serious
questions about his defense remain. And with a .410 BABIP, color me

The Cubs’ NLCS finish was one for the history books

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Chicago Cubs fans hold a sign after the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:

  • By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
  • Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per’s Jenifer Langosch).
  • Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
  • Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
  • Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
  • By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
  • The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
  • Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
  • With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
  • If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
  • Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.


The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder: