The hottest team in major league baseball kept their foot on the pedal to start this week as the Chicago Cubs swept the Cleveland Indians in a short two-game series at Progressive Field in Cleveland Wednesday night.
- Tuesday, August 11: Cubs 7, Indians 1
- Wednesday, August 12: Cubs 7, Indians 2
Kyle Hendricks owns Cleveland
After the Cubs were unfortunately forced — thanks to the Cardinals COVID-19 outbreak — to sit at home for four days, the Northsiders didn’t show any kind of rust heading into Cleveland to play a competitive Indians squad. Maybe it’s because their fun levels hit different from other teams.
To no surprise, going to Cleveland will always be special to Cubs fans. Some of the greatest memories of our lives happened at Progressive Field. The wins in 2016 obviously outweigh this week’s sweep, but here at Cubs On Tap we never forget despite what the Indians Twitter account says.
In his first appearance in Cleveland since Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, which was ironically on a Wednesday night, Kyle Hendricks fooled the Indians hitters for six innings, striking out five batters last night. Hendricks is now 2-0 on Wednesday night games in Cleveland. We’re just presenting the facts over here.
Anthony Rizzo‘s swag level sky rocketed up a million points. Tony 2Chainz is a nickname that sticks.
Personally, I hope Rizzo never takes the chains off. I hope he showers with said chains on, actually. His best friend Kris Bryant tee’d off on Indians pitching as well. It was a good sign considering he’s still struggling at the plate — batting .196 — and he looked to have possibly hurt his wrist in the half inning before in the outfield. However, we think he’s fine.
The Cubs could have had more considering they were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left nine baserunners on the base paths, but with this elite pitching staff, seven runs should be enough to win a baseball game.
Jon Lester Quality Starts. Rinse. Repeat.
Jon Lester did his part in Game 1 of the series, pitching six strong innings as he continued his comeback parade on Tuesday.
After struggling to end last season, Lester has been everything you could ask for in a No. 4 starter to start this 60-game sprint.
Lester currently sports a 1.06 ERA, 3.83 FIP and 41.6 percent ground ball rate. Opponents are hitting .117 off him. His 6.1 percent walk rate is his lowest since his debut season with the Cubs in 2015. Do we need to remind people Lester was far and away the Cubs No. 1 starter in 2016 and 2018?
Jason Heyward finally got it going with the bat, going 3-for-4 at the plate including a 3-run shot to break the game wide open. The Indians entered the series having not allowed more than four runs in a game all season. Heyward had four runs batted in alone. Heyward’s slashline of .256/.313/.419 still doesn’t make me feel better about Nick Castellanos‘ 1.050 OPS but he’s starting to trend up offensively.
Cubs Bullpen Heading in Right Direction
The Cubs bullpen was horrific in the finale against Kansas City, but showed up in Cleveland after four days rest.
Dan Winkler inserted himself into trouble, allowing one earned run and walking two last night, but Rowan Wick and Jeremy Jeffress locked down the Indians batters to close out the 8th and 9th innings last night.
Right now, Jeffress and Wick are your go-to arms out of the Cubs bullpen. Jeffress already has a 0.3 WAR because he hasn’t allowed a run in seven appearances. To put things into perspective, Jeffress finished the 2019 campaign with Milwaukee with a 0.3 WAR in 52 innings. Reaching that peak in just seven innings with the Cubs is laughable.
I need this exact strut after he strikes out Christian Yelich this weekend like I need air.
Wick has been absolute nails in the set up roll as well, allowing zero earned runs in all his appearances.
After Jeffress and Wick, its been a toss up but Tepera has emerged as a late inning reliever and Rea has shown promise as well. While Craig Kimbrel continues to ‘figure it out’ the Cubs will take anyone who can throw strikes out in the bullpen.
On Tap Observations
The Cubs have the best winning percentage in baseball. If the Cardinals hadn’t had a COVID outbreak, they quite possibly could have the best record in baseball. They lead the NL Central by 5.5 games. We hope everyone has been wearing the same underwear the day after Cubs wins. We don’t need anything to mess up this energy.
The Cubs are having fun. Rizzo is wearing gold chains. The boys are hitting baseballs towards famous Chicago cardboard cut outs in the outfield on off days. Javier Baez continues to make us grin.
I can’t believe I’ve made it this far without mentioning Ian Happ. He continues to post great at-bats and prove why he should be an every day starter in the Cubs lineup. On Tap’s Brian Mischler dove into why Happ is breaking out for the Cubs this season. I’ll just say, Happ’s 1.015 OPS is exactly what the doctor ordered for him this season.
The Cubs host Milwaukee, St. Louis and the White Sox on the next home stand.
- Thursday, August 13, 6:15 CDT: Yu Darvish vs. Brett Anderson
- Friday, August 14, 7:15 CDT: Tyler Chatwood vs. Brandon Woodruff
- Saturday, August 15, 7:15 CDT: Alec Mills vs. Adrian Houser
- Sunday, August 16, 1:20 CDT: Jon Lester vs. Josh Lindblom
For postgame reactions and analysis, be sure to tune in to the Cubs On Tap podcast on all major platforms.