Chicago Cubs Embraced The Target

Joe Maddon

 

Despite having an unspectacular performance during yesterday’s 7-4 comeback win over the Cincinnati Reds, Kyle Hendricks still won the ERA title. His ERA of 2.13 is the best in baseball, the Chicago Cubs are the best in baseball heading into the post season and they have a four day rest before the post season starts for the storied franchise.

“At this point in my career, now it’s all said and done, definitely got to sit back and reflect a little bit on it,” Hendricks said. “I just personally never thought I’d be in this situation. … But behind that number, getting guys out, there’s a lot that goes into that. Defense, I’m such a pitching-to-contact type of guy. Defense has to play for me, and catchers, they’re a big part of it too, just preventing runs. So couldn’t have done it without all of those guys.”

Whether the lanky pitcher wins the Cy Young or not, he’s had an incredible season emerging into a great ace on a solid pitching staff. Sometimes I wonder just how good he’d be on another club, say Atlanta? Being on a team that’s as good as the Cubs are, only adds to his growing legend.

Now that the Cubs have won 103 games and have the best record since 1910, what will the guys do for the week as they prepare to face the winner of the National League Wild Card game set for Wednesday? They’ll either face San Francisco Giants or the New York Mets. Personally, I’d like to see go head to head with the Mets. The Cubs have some unfinished business to do against that team and for some reason I think they’ll have an easier time than the always frustrating Giants.

“This is 2016, so [the Giants] are going to be tough to beat, no doubt,” Anthony Rizzo said. “And with the Mets, the experience they gained last year — so that’ll be a fun game to watch, especially with [Noah] Syndergaard and [Madison] Bumgarner, I’m sure they’re both going to throw 200 pitches each if they have to. It’s fun for baseball, those Wild Card Games, and we’re happy we’re not partaking in that this year, that anxiety and stress level.”

Ah yes, that stress level of the one and done, loser go home playoff scenario has gathered the ire of many baseball executives and fans alike but until the baseball brass fix the series to a more fair three game event, manacurists will continue to have their busiest season in October.

So, what does Joe Maddon have up his sleeve?

“The boxes have been checked in the regular season,”  Maddon said. “We won the division, we stayed relatively healthy, we’ve played well. … All this stuff we talked about in camp regarding embracing the target and dealing with the pressure, we’ve done all those things.”

There’s only one thing left to do.

“We’re ready,” Rizzo said. “Everyone is pretty much healthy. It’s just about going out and executing now.”

Believe it.

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