Fantasy Baseball: NL Central Velocity Check

Fantasy Baseball: NL Central Velocity Check

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Posted: 9:44 a.m.

By Hamilton Bolduc
CSNChicago.com Contributor

The division features some top, former American League arms that will look to take advantage of the NL tailwind.

Cubs

Starter Matt Garza (93.3): Garza is one of a few arms looking to get the NL bump in stats. No one has ever questioned Garzas stuff, but its been his consistency that needs to improve. In the NL Central, hell feast on the weaker teams like the Pirates, Astros, Padres and Nationals. Expect his K9 to get back to his 2009 total (150 in 189 innings) while he eclipses the 200-inning mark for a third season.

Reliever Carlos Marmol (94.1): Marmol had a breakout season as the Cubs closer and was rewarded with a three-year extension last month. In terms of velocity, his fastball was at its best while he still relied on his slider to rack up a phenomenal 15.99 K9. Lets just say we can expect more where that came from.

Reds

Starter Edinson Volquez (93.6): 2008 is long gone, but there are signs he could be on the rebound. While he struggled as a .500 pitcher with an inflated 4-plus ERA, Volquez posted his career-best K9 with 9.62.

Reliever Aroldis Chapman (99.6): Chapman exploded on the scene at the end of 2010 and figures to be one of the toughest relievers for years to come. Dont be shocked if he unseats Francisco Cordero as closer by the All-Star Break.

Astros

Starter Bud Norris (93.6): The Baby Stros are going to need major contributions from Norris. Unfortunately hes been a little too erratic to count on. Norris could become a waiver wire steal if he can better capitalize on his impressive K9.

Reliever Brandon Lyon (91.6): Lyon is far from a sure thing at the closer position given this average (at best) velocity.

Brewers

Starter Zach Greinke (93.5): Greinke wont be taking the hill until the end of April for his new team. It will be a shock if he didnt take advantage of the NL on his way to one his best seasons, perhaps on par with his Cy Young 2009.
Reliever John Axford (94.9): Axford will be one of baseballs top closers and figures to get plenty of opportunities with one of baseballs best rotations providing additional wins.

Pirates
Starter James McDonald (92.4): McDonald is a possible waiver wire pickup to help bridge when one of your top arms ends up on the disabled list, but nothing more.

Reliever Joel Hanrahan (96.0): Perhaps the best pitcher on the team. Hanrahan will make the most of his closing opportunities, but he wont have many. He's also had a rough spring, which may keep his draft-day price lower than it should be.

Cards
Starter Chris Carpenter (91.4): Carpenter has been elite when healthy. But he's at an age when the injuries start to pile up. It's already taken a toll on his once-better velocity.

Reliever Mitchell Boggs (96.1): Boggs will be one of the Cardinals top arms out of the pen, but he figures to be third in line at best to close out games. The value will be low here unless things make a drastic change for the worse. Monitor his progress, but grab Ryan Franklin or Jason Motte before you consider Boggs.

Never say die: Cubs battle back for wild walk-off win over Pirates

Never say die: Cubs battle back for wild walk-off win over Pirates

It would have been so easy for the Cubs to just chalk this one up as a loss and head home.

But this 2016 Cubs team isn't built that way.

They showed what they're made of again Monday, walking off the Pirates, 8-7, in front of 38,951 fans at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs had plenty of chances to score all game, including in extra innings as Javy Baez was thrown out at home plate to end both the 10th and 12th innings.

In the top of the 13th, the Pirates finally broke through, loading the bases with nobody out against Rob Zastryzny and scoring a run — but only one run.

In the bottom of the 13th, the Cubs got their offense going again as Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant led the inning off with singles to put runners at the corners. Anthony Rizzo then singled through the infield to tie the game and drive home Fowler.

Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out, setting the stage for Miguel Montero's walk-off single to start the Cubs' homestand off on a positive note and send Zastryzny home with his first MLB victory.

It capped off a game in which almost 465 pitches were thrown and took more than five hours to complete.

"We got in late last night," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I got back about 3 a.m. So these guys — they're coming off West Coast to the Central Time Zone, they're tired, we had to show up today early for a picture — that happens sometimes — and they came out and played until Midnight.

"Of course you want to win that game. That's a tough game to lose. But understand the effort that you saw tonight based on a lot of fatigue. And that's probably what I'm most proud of."

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The Cubs opened up a 3-0 lead on Pirates rookie starter Steven Brault early, but they could have easily had more, narrowly missing home runs in the first (Zobrist) and third innings (Jorge Soler).

The Pirates, meanwhile, came roaring back against Jake Arrieta. 

First, Josh Bell hit a solo homer just over the basket in left field in the fourth inning. Then Gregory Polanco deposited a three-run shot down the left-field line in the sixth inning, two batters after it appeared the Cubs had gotten a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. Home plate umpire Tripp Gibson disagreed, calling the pitch Ball 4 to Bell and putting two runners on with nobody out instead of two outs and nobody on. Arrieta was irate, staring down the umpire and prompting a visit from Maddon, who proceeded to get in Gibson's face at the base of the mound after calming down Arrieta.

"That's an entirely different baseball game right there that occurred on that particular pitch," Maddon said. "Everything turned on that particluar pitch.

"But I'm not gonna denigrate the umpire. We had plenty of opportunities — PLENTY — to win that game in a normal fashion or earlier. We had so many great at-bats to set it up and then we could not seal the deal."

Arrieta was also saddled with a pair of runs in the seventh inning, with Travis Wood letting two inherited runners score on Josh Harrison's two-out double to make it a 6-3 Pirates lead.

The reigning NL Cy Young winner finished with a tough-luck line that flashed six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings on five hits and three walks.

Then the Cubs began their comeback.

In the eighth, Jason Heyward doubled and Willson Contreras homered to straightaway center.

With one out in the ninth, Soler sent a charge into Tony Watson's offering to tie the game with a blast to center.

That set up Montero for the storybook ending.

"The resiliency of our team is incredible," Arrieta said. "That's what you need down the stretch. ... Just a crazy ballgame all the way around."

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

The White Sox continue their road series with the Tigers on Tuesday night in the Motor City, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from Detroit starts at 6 p.m. Then be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo (0-1, 7.88 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.63 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you're ready for the action.

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Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Berwyn-native and White Sox fan Isaiah Wright entered the world fighting the odds. At just 14 years old, he has undergone multiple organ transplants and more than 50 surgeries because of a rare birth defect.

Isaiah and his family have an appreciation for just how precious life can be and they were able to make the most of a recent visit to the South Side for a White Sox game, where he received VIP treatment and met his favorite players, including a private meeting with Jose Abreu.

Check out the video above.

A Go Fund Me page was also created to help support Isaiah and his family. Click here to make a donation.