Giants starter Madison Bumgarner is used to homering off opposing pitchers. He has 14 career home runs on his ledger. He is not, however, used to opposing pitchers homering off of him. Bumgarner had never allowed the opposing pitcher to homer in his eight-year career entering Monday night’s NLDS Game 3 start against the Cubs.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta changed that in the top of the second inning. The Cubs’ offense made Bumgarner labor. Ben Zobrist grounded out on the sixth pitch he saw to lead off the frame. Addison Russell was hit with the eighth pitch of his at-bat. Javier Baez saw eight pitches before singling on number nine. Miguel Montero lined out on the first pitch he saw, bringing up Arrieta with Bumgarner having already thrown 24 pitches in the inning. Arrieta took a first-pitch ball, then swung through two fastballs. Bumgarner came in with another fastball and Arrieta launched a three-run homer over the fence in left field, staking the Cubs to a 3-0 lead.
Arrieta is no slouch at the plate. He’s not quite Bumgarnerian, but he has homered twice in each of the last two seasons.
The Cubs lead the NLDS 2-0 over the Giants. They’re looking to sweep in San Francisco tonight.
The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.
Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.
Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.
For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.
Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.