Chicago Cubs

Fantasy Baseball pitcher stock watch - 97

Fantasy Baseball pitcher stock watch - 97

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Buy

Brandon League, RP, Dodgers: It's been a smooth landing in LA, as League has his mechanics back in order and a key role in the bullpen. He's fashioned nine straight scoreless innings - along with 15 strikeouts - and he's become the head of the closer committee since Kenley Jansen (irregular heartbeat) hit the disabled list. Forget the bad ending in Seattle; League can get us those critical handshakes down the stretch.

A.J. Griffin, SP, Athletics: What's not to like here? He's yet to allow more than three runs in any Oakland turn, and he's collecting four strikeouts for every walk. A platoon split hasn't shown up yet, as righties and lefties are both hitting under .200 against Griffin. The deep Oakland pitching depth strikes again. Griffin's next two starts are on the road, not that we're worried about the environments in Seattle and Anaheim.

Zach Britton, SP, Orioles: When he initially hit the scene we thought he'd be more of a pitch-to-contact arm than anything else, so it's encouraging to see 29 strikeouts for Britton over his last 28.2 innings. The 0.94 ERA over that span is obviously unsustainable, but we're not going to sweat his challenging division for the balance of the year. Britton helps himself when the batters do make contact, inducing ground balls a whopping 60 percent of the time.

Tommy Layne, RP, Padres: His checkered minor-league history is a thing of the past, as the Friars have made Layne into an intriguing lefty specialist. The strikeout numbers jump off the page (17 whiffs in 10.1 innings), and he's picked up a win and two saves because he's being used in high-leverage spots. And obviously Petco Park will hide most of his mistakes; at least, they stay in the park.

Sell

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians: The strikeout numbers haven't been bad, but we're still not buying; his high-maintenance mechanics haven't been repeatable for a couple of years, and the wide swings in velocity also have us concerned. And when Jimenez is forced to work in the middle of the zone, he routinely gets pounded; his best stuff isn't swing-and-miss stuff unless it's perfectly located. The Indians will regret the Jimenez trade for the balance of the decade.

Trevor Cahill, SP, Diamondbacks: It's all about the schedule with the sinker-ball specialist - Cahill is trustable on the road (2.91 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) but he hasn't figured out how to manage Arizona's park yet (5.331.58). He's working at home next week (perhaps for two starts) so make sure Cahill isn't in your plans.

Eric Stults, SP, Padres: A 1.93 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over the last month will get your attention, but Stults only has 14 strikeouts over that 32.3 inning sample and he's been fooling the batted-ball gods all summer (.250 BABIP). This Cinderella will turn into a pumpkin any moment. We hear Eric Stoltz will play him in the movie.

Hold

Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants: He's been batting practice for a month, but when you pop the hood and look at the underling numbers, things don't appear so bad. Vogelsong is still recording three strikeouts for every walk, he's been hurt by an unlucky .365 BABIP, and one of the messy turns came in Colorado. Alas, he has to work in Coors early next week, but we'll ride him out after that. Most of the NL West is favorable to a pitcher.

Jose Quintana’s ‘career-altering’ game has Cubs planning clinch party in St. Louis

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USA TODAY

Jose Quintana’s ‘career-altering’ game has Cubs planning clinch party in St. Louis

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs are going to destroy Busch Stadium’s visiting clubhouse. The rivalry has fundamentally shifted to the point where the St. Louis Cardinals are hanging around the National League’s wild-card race in a transition year and it would have been a massive failure if the defending World Series champs didn’t win this division. But there will be some symbolism to popping champagne bottles and spraying beer all over that room.

“We intend to clinch there,” Ben Zobrist said after Jose Quintana’s complete-game masterpiece in Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “And I think for a lot of the guys that have been around here for a long time, it’s going to be very satisfying.”

Quintana has only been a Cub since the Brewers failed to close a deal with the White Sox and team president Theo Epstein swooped in to make a signature trade during the All-Star break. Quintana hasn’t yet pitched in the playoffs, but this is close enough, the Cubs winning back-to-back 10-inning games against the Brewers and shaking off a walk-off loss before the lefty faced off against Chase Anderson in front of a sellout crowd of 42,212.

Quintana gave the Cubs more data points to consider as they prepare for a probable first-round series against the Washington Nationals. The magic number to eliminate both the Brewers and Cardinals is two, with Milwaukee off on Monday and the Cubs playing a rivalry game in St. Louis that night, meaning the party goggles won’t come out until Tuesday at the earliest.

“It’s the playoffs already for this team,” said Zobrist, who again looked like a World Series MVP in the seventh inning of a 1-0 game when he launched Anderson’s first-pitch fastball into the second deck in right field for a two-run, breathing-room homer. “We’re already thinking that way.

“We’re in postseason mode right now. And we intend to continue that for the next month.”

While there are valid concerns about Jon Lester’s nosedive in performance since coming off the disabled list and the state of Jake Arrieta’s right hamstring, the focus should also be on how Quintana (7-3, 3.50 ERA in 13 starts as a Cub) could be an October game-changer for this rotation.

“Once he got over here, he was really jacked up about having a chance to play in the playoffs,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s showing you that right now. Games like that, to me, could be kind of career-altering for a pitcher.

“When you pitch a complete-game shutout on the road under these circumstances, that definitely does something for your interior. It definitely fluffs it up a little bit.”

“It’s exciting to be here,” said Quintana, who allowed only three singles, piled up 10 strikeouts against one walk and hit 93 mph on his 116th and final pitch in the ninth inning. “I just try to help my team and it’s really special when you get that opportunity. It’s about winning and I have a huge opportunity here.”

In all phases of the game – dominant starting pitching, an offense that created different ways to score runs, multiple bullpen contributors and an airtight defense that committed zero errors in 39 innings – Maddon saw what he was looking for: “We reacted in a playoff manner for these four games. Our mental intensity could not be beat.”

That drifting, in-and-out focus had been part of the background when the Cubs shocked the baseball world with the Quintana trade in the middle of July. Concentration won’t be an issue at Busch Stadium. And this hangover will be real.

“It will be nice to do it there, I’ll just say that,” said Zobrist, who understands the Cubs-Cardinals dynamic as someone who grew up in downstate Illinois. “But we got to win the games.

“As John Lackey said it before (this) series: ‘This is not a small series, boys.’ We knew it was a big one here in Milwaukee. And it will be another big one in St. Louis.”

Bulls reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Bulls reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade's Bulls career is set to end just over a year after it began.

According to the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson, the Bulls and Wade have reached an agreement on a buyout.

CSN Chicago's Vincent Goodwill confirmed the report.

Wade signed a two-year, $47.5 million deal with the Bulls last July and averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 60 games with the Bulls. This summer, Wade exercised his player option for the second year of the contract, worth $23.8 million.

Wade picked up his option just two days before the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler on draft night and went into rebuild mode. According to Goodwill, Dwyane Wade is giving back $8.5 million.

The Bulls will go into next year without any of the 'Three Alphas' the team had last year Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo.

The news comes a day before Bulls Media Day, which will be live on CSN at 2:30 p.m., and on the same day the team agreed to a two-year deal with Nikolia Mirotic.

Wojnarowski also reported Cleveland, San Antonio, Miami and Oklahoma City are the contenders to sign Wade.