Baseball's top McPitchers

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Baseball's top McPitchers

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here's a list of Major League Baseball's top 10 winningest McPitchers:

1. Jim McCormick - 265 wins

The chunky, mustachioed Glasgow-born McCormick was the first Scotsman in Major League history. He held the record of winningest non-American born pitcher until Fergie Jenkins (then Bert Blyleven). His 1880 season leaps off the page; 45 wins, 1.85 ERA in 657.2 innings...although all this was achieved with underhanded tactics, literally. The overhand pitch was not allowed until 1884.

2. Joe McGinnity - 246 wins

Nicknamed "Iron Man," because of his offseason work in an iron foundry, a quick scan of his inning totals justifies the nickname from his moundwork alone. With a bewildering array of overhand, sidearm, and underhanded deliveries (including his underhanded curve he called "Old Sal"), McGinnity's trademark feat of durability was his 434.0 innings in 1903, including a 6-0 record from pitching both games of three separate doubleheaders in August of that season.

3. Dave McNally - 184 wins

Well known for: being part of 4x20 win rotation on the 1971 Orioles, playing out option year of 1975 to challenge the reserve clause.

Not as well known for: being the all-time winningest Montana-born pitcher (143 wins more than the next highest total).

4. Sadie McMahon - 173 wins

The ace of the juggernaut Baltimore Orioles teams of the early 1890's, McMahon formed what was called "the Dumpling Battery" with catcher Wilbert Robinson due to their unathletic physiques. Another case of a brief, bright 19th century pitching career curtailed at an early age due to injury (in this case, shoulder).

5. Dick McBride - 149 wins

McBride's peak seems to have been before the creation of any organized professional leagues; he was given time off from Civil War duty to pitch an important game for a Philadelphia team. Only Albert Goodwill Spalding (204) had more wins in the brief history of the National Association; the predecessor of the National League. He had otherworldly mutton chops.

6. Lindy McDaniel - 141 wins

119 of those wins were as a reliever, and that is second only to Hoyt Wilhelm (124) in Major League annals.

6. Sam McDowell - 141 wins

The best fireballer in the American League prior to Nolan Ryan's arrival, "Sudden Sam" posted 1652 whiffs from 1965-70, topping Bob Gibson's next best ML total by 199 despite over 100 fewer innings. Unfortunately, poor conditioning led to his decline, and by the time he was dealt to the Giants for Gaylord Perry, McDowell was nearly done while Perry had 180 wins and two Cy Young Awards left in the tank.

8. Scott McGregor - 138 wins

Solid career, entirely with the Orioles. Career year of 20-8 came in 1980...when teammate Steve Stone topped him with a Cy Young season of 25-7, but McGregor recorded four shutouts to Stone's one and posted a better WHIP (1.238 to 1.297) with neck-and-neck ERA's (3.32 for McGregor; 3.23 for Stone)

9. Mike McCormick - 134 wins

McCormick won the NL Cy Young Award back when it was more appropriately called "The Pitcher With the Most Wins Award." In 1967, his award-winning season, McCormick's 118 ERA was tied for 13th. Phil Niekro had a league-leading 1.87 ERA (of course assisted by the knuckleball-induced unearned runs) with an 11-9 record, but that's another discussion for another day.
10. Danny MacFayden - 132 wins

The leader among MacPitchers (or else Denny McLain's 131 would be No. 10), the bespectacled "Deacon Danny" hung around the Majors for 17 seasons, finishing up at 27 games under .500 for his career. Amazingly, as bad as his 2.65 career strikeout rate was, Ted Lyons was able to etch a plaque in Cooperstown with a lower one (2.32).

Bonus postscript:

The all-time wins leader actually born in Ireland is Tony Mullane, who would top this list with 284 had his name begun with Mc. Mullane was nicknamed "the Apollo of the Box" due to his good looks, was an ambidextrous hurler long before Greg Harris (longer still before Pat Venditte), and due to bigotry refused to acknowledge Fleet Walker's (credited as baseball's true first African American player) signals when the two were batterymates with Toledo (which was a Major League town with the American Association) in 1884.

For those who were wondering...Jack McDowell is 12th with 127 wins.

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Theo Epstein's front office is heading into Year 6 with the Cubs and they're finally talking about a pitcher as one of the organization's most exciting prospects.

That's how senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod framed his Dylan Cease report to fans at the Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand Chicago last weekend.

It was a tongue-in-cheek summation from McLeod after he spent the previous few minutes fawning over Cease, the Cubs' sixth round pick in 2014.

Of course, McLeod and the Cubs can poke fun at the lack of impact pitching the farm system has developed when the homegrown position players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber just helped lead the franchise to its first World Series championship in over a century.

Cease, however, has been one of the more intriguing Cubs prospects for years — a right-handed pitcher capable of touching 101 mph on the radar gun.

"This guy is throwing lightning bolts out of his arm," McLeod said. "It's really exciting. But we also understaned he's only in Low-A this year, so he's far away."

The Cubs expect Cease to pitch for Class-A South Bend in 2017 after spending last season pitching for short-season Eugene and the 2015 campaign working in the rookie league in Arizona.

Cease — who just turned 21 in late December — put up some impressive numbers at both stops in the Cubs system, posting a 2.36 ERA and 1.165 WHIP to go along with a whopping 91 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. He also only surrendered one homer and walked more batters (41) than reached via a basehit (39).

Control is obviously an issue for Cease, but the upside is evident.

"He's so far away," McLeod said. "He's gonna go into 2017 as a starter. As with a lot of young guys, it's gonna come down to command and depend on that third pitch and the ability to land them for strikes.

"It's a special arm. He can pitch 95-100 mph with a big power curveball. He's unlike anyone else we have in our system since we've been here in terms of pure stuff."

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One fan compared Cease to Carl Edwards Jr. in terms of their lanky build and high velocity, setting McLeod up for a layup joke.

"Well, Dylan is much stronger physically than CJ is...as is everybody in this room," McLeod said as the ballroom filled with laugher. "Don't tell [CJ] I said that. 

"They have different body types, obviously. Carl is long and lanky and Dylan has probably put on 20 pounds since we drafted him, so he's more like 6-foot-2, 190."

By comparison, Edwards — who goes by "The String Bean Slinger" for his slight build — is listed at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds.

Edwards was drafted in the 48th round in 2011 and spent his whole minor-league career as a starting pitcher until the Cubs converted him to a reliever in 2015.

Cease may eventually go down the same path, but the Cubs are going to give him every opportunity to make it as a starter first.

Cease was one of the top pitchers available in the 2014 draft, but his stock took a hit when he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow while at Milton High School in Georgia.

That scared off a lot of teams — as did the potential signability issues with college offers looming — but the Cubs took a chance and have now watched Cease soar to a top prospect in the system (No. 4 by Baseball America; No. 7 by FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus) despite the cautious approach and lack of innings in professional ball.

"We have to thank Kyle Schwarber, actually, as one of the main reasons we got to sign Dylan Cease," McLeod said. "Because we took Kyle fourth overall, we were able to save money on the selection with him, which gave us the resources to go get Dylan Cease.

"He was a Top 10 pick in the draft — a high school arm that got hurt, fell down to the fifth round and he had a commitment to Vanderbilt, I think it was, and we were able to use the money we saved from Kyle.

"Just another reason to love Kyle Schwarber."

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon's Washington itinerary didn't include an hour-long sit-down with Chuck Todd for NBC's "Meet the Press." There would be no rehashing the manager's Game 7 decisions as he stood outside the West Wing, though the second question during the media stakeout involved "last year's team" and how the 2017 Cubs are prepared to defend a World Series title.

"You're already there, huh?" Maddon said to a CNN reporter, minutes after President Barack Obama's final official White House event ended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

But last year's team is gone — preserved now in highlight films and the hearts and minds of generations of Cub fans — even if so many familiar faces will be in Mesa when pitchers and catchers officially report to Arizona on Valentine's Day.

It would be impossible to replicate everything that made the 2016 Cubs so special. Baseball has its own relentless pace and the dynamics are constantly shifting. (Remember when players were passive-aggressively complaining about Maddon's spring-training approach during the final week of a 103-win regular season?) The clubhouse chemistry will inevitably feel different after climbing a Mount Everest of professional sports.

"A mind once stretched has a very difficult time going back to its original form," Maddon said. "We're motivated by it. We want to do it again, of course. There's no question we're trying to do that.

"I'm really leaning on the phrase or the thought of being uncomfortable. I want us to be uncomfortable. I think the moment you get into your comfort zone after having such a significant moment in your life like that, the threat is that you're going to stop growing.

"So I really want us to be uncomfortable. I really want to continue (to see) a pattern of growth and really try to get at them very quickly again."

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Can Jason Heyward recover from one of the worst offensive seasons in the majors last year? Is Willson Contreras ready to be a frontline catcher? Will Javier Baez have to adjust back to being a role player after becoming a playoff superstar? Does Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in a center-field timeshare represent an upgrade over Dexter Fowler?

If healthy, Wade Davis should be a trusted, lower-maintenance closer than Aroldis Chapman, with an advanced approach to pitching and more clubhouse presence. As a staff, the Cubs will have to bounce back from pitching into early November (or not, in the case of the relievers Maddon didn't trust during the playoffs).

As it stands, Jon Lester (33) and John Lackey (38) have already combined to throw almost 5,000 innings in The Show (including the postseason). Jake Arrieta will have to deal with the pressure of playing for his megadeal in his final season before becoming a free agent.

The drop-off after Mike Montgomery — and it's still mostly projected potential with the No. 5 starter — appears to be very steep in an organization that doesn't have any high-end pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.

After painting the bull's-eye on the chest and turning "Embrace The Target" and "Try Not To Suck" into viral T-shirts, a guy who hates meetings is still working on his themes for this campaign.

"I'm really rotating around the thought of authenticity," Maddon said. "I talked about it a lot last year, the fact that I think authenticity has a chance to repeat itself without even trying. It's part of who you are. It's not fabricated. It's real.

"I've talked about our guys a lot the last couple years. I think one of our strongest qualities is the authentic component of our players. So I'm really focusing on that word right now. Again, that's a great word to bring an entire message from (when) you get in front of the group that first day in spring training.

"I kind of just think like authenticity happens. And let's work it from there."

The costumes should be in midseason form with Maddon planning a house party around Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival before driving his RV from Florida to Arizona.

Maddon will turn 63 on Feb. 8 and have to keep evolving, just like his players, who might outgrow some of those gimmicks. But the Cubs are still a reflection of their future Hall of Fame manager.

Amid all the uncertainty in Washington, Maddon wouldn't touch a question about what advice he would give Donald Trump before Friday's inauguration.

"I'm not even going to go anywhere close to that," Maddon said. "I will say this: I have a lot of respect of the office.

"At the end of the day, just have a lot of respect for the office, regardless of your political persuasion. My point would be to encourage people to really respect the office and let's see what we get done here over the next four years."