Chicago Cubs

NBA Power Rankings: Grizzlies soaring

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NBA Power Rankings: Grizzlies soaring

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are Week 2 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings: Preseason Week 1 Week 2

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony: Well-rounded team has best record in NBA.
Mark: They haven't lost since Opening Night.
2
Tony: Second only because Memphis has rattled off 8 straight.
Mark: Carmelo is your November MVP, hands down.
3
Tony: Will hold the best record when it's all said and done.
Mark: LeBron playing on another level.
4
Tony: KDTrey? More like KDTripleDouble.
Mark: Ginobili getting healthy is important in Leonard's absence.
5
Tony: Just solid. Boring, but solid.
Mark: Jamal Crawford: 20.7 points in 28.1 minutes.
6
Tony: Statement win over the Bulls Saturday.
Mark: Kevin Martin getting comfortable.7
Tony: See? Back to .500 already.
Mark: Successes have been overshadowed by Knicks.8
Tony: This team missed Brook Lopez last year.
Mark: The Central is theirs to take, it appears.
9
Tony: Yep, Jennings and Ellis can definitely co-exist.
Mark: Offense looks great under D'Antoni.
10
Tony: They need to get the shooting guard spot nailed down.
Mark: Depth on the wing is complementing Holiday.
11
Tony: Can Jrue Holiday carry this team now?
Mark: Just 2-4 on the road, but biding time before Dirk returns.
12
Tony: What is going on with the defense?
Mark: Injury-riddled, but no-namers keep stepping up.
13
Tony: Collison is having a resurgent season.
Mark: Rondo averaging 13.1 assists through 11 games.
14
Tony: Teague taking over the offense now.
Mark: Road trip travel starting to take its toll.
15
Tony: They could really use Bogut right now.
Mark: Lillard continues his ROY pace.
16
Tony: Fighting through the injuries, though Roy might be done.
Mark: Harrison Barnes looking more comfortable each night.
17
Tony: Asik making free throws? Huh.
Mark: Not giving up on this talented group.
18
Tony: Bold prediction: Batum -- not Aldridge -- leads POR in scoring this year.
Mark: Where was this Kyle Korver (10.9 ppg, 46.5 from 3) in Chicago?
19
Tony: Manimal is emerging as a bonafide stud.
Mark: MKG taking on the same role as he did at Kentucky.
20
Tony: Guess they need Granger more than we all thought, huh?
Mark: Millsap-Favors-Jefferson frontcourt is coming into form.
21
Tony: Will the big lineup (Al-Jeff, Favors, Milsap) lead to success?
Mark: Chandler Parsons a pleasant surprise for Houston.
22
Tony: Kemba Walker: All-Star?
Mark: Nash-to-Dragic transition has been essentially seamless.
23
Tony: Frontcourt play from GortatScola a big boost.
Mark: Even without Granger, early season's biggest disappointment.
24
Tony: Anthony Davis' offensive game looks polished already.
Mark: Al-Farouq Aminu quietly putting it all together.
25
Tony: Falling back to Earth after hot start.
Mark: Jameer Nelson finally back and healthy.
26
Tony: Need to make decision on Calderon: Trade or keep?
Mark: Young guns haven't made the jump. Yet.
27
Tony: Mired in a rough six-game losing streak.
Mark: Nothing going on in a crowded frontcourt.
28
Tony: Tyreke Evans has regressed big-time.
Mark: Isaiah Thomas benched for Aaron Brooks. Not a good sign.
29
Tony: Time to play Andre Drummond more?
Mark: Impressive 20-point win over Boston on Sunday.
30
Tony: Only winless team left in NBA.
Mark: Emeka Okafor having a resurgent year.

The Streak ends as Cubs watch Wade Davis finally blow a save: ‘It’s definitely on me’

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USA TODAY

The Streak ends as Cubs watch Wade Davis finally blow a save: ‘It’s definitely on me’

MILWAUKEE – The efficient, emotionless way Wade Davis did his job helped the Cubs stay afloat during the disappointing first half of this season, a time when late-inning losses could have really damaged the clubhouse and the defending World Series champs might have collapsed.  

Standing at his locker, Davis had the same stone-faced expression on his bearded face after Saturday afternoon’s 4-3 walk-off loss, the third straight 10-inning game the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers have played at Miller Park. Because Davis had been 32-for-32 in save chances this year, the Cubs could appreciate all the heart-pounding action and how this compared to October.  

“We 100 percent won that game today, it seemed like,” Davis said in his monotone voice. “The offense and everything was incredible, coming back twice. It’s definitely on me.”

It was jarring to watch Travis Shaw drive a hanging curveball over the fence in left-center field and into the Milwaukee bullpen. Teammates waited for Shaw at home plate with Gatorade buckets after that game-winning two-run homer, showering him and tearing his jersey apart amid the mosh pit, the Brewers still clinging to their hopes in the National League wild-card race.

The perfect season already ended for Davis in the ninth inning, when Orlando Arcia hammered a misplaced 92-mph fastball that stayed just inside the left-field foul pole and landed in the second deck.

The crowd of 44,067 watched Davis blow his first save since Sept. 2, 2016, which also happened to be his first game back in the Kansas City Royals bullpen after spending more than a month on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow.

“There’s nothing to lament right there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Another intensely good baseball game. And they got us at the end. But there’s no way, shape or form to point a finger at Wade.”

Davis wasn’t pointing a finger at Maddon and doing an Aroldis Chapman impression, but the All-Star closer did admit: “My arm was dragging a little bit.”

The Cubs had used Davis five times within the last eight days, including a back-to-back-to-back last weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals and then asking him to get five outs in Thursday night’s 10-inning comeback win over Milwaukee. Until Saturday’s comeback, the Brewers had been 0-54 when trailing after eight innings.  

“I just made a lot of bad pitches,” Davis said, who had converted his last 38 save chances and set a new franchise record to begin his Cubs career/set him up for a big contract this winter as a free agent.

Maddon, who will face another round of bullpen-management questions when the playoffs begin, had Hector Rondon warming up in the 10th inning, but the right-hander threw a scoreless inning on Friday night, his first appearance since Sept. 8 after getting treated for a sore elbow.

“If we did not score when we scored, I would have brought Rondon into the game,” Maddon said. “But once we scored, I put him back out there. It was a pretty easy equation.

“He’s your best guy. There’s no second-guessing whatsoever. He was fine to go back out there.”

What did The Streak mean to you?

“Not much,” Davis said. “I obviously wanted to win today’s game and put us in a better position than we were yesterday. So it kind of stinks, but, you know, move on from it.”

That summed up the entire mood inside the visiting clubhouse, the Cubs pointing to a dominant Kyle Hendricks start (one run in six innings), Justin Wilson auditioning for a trusted role out of the playoff bullpen (four outs) and a resourceful lineup that manufactured offense without hitting home runs.  

“It’s been a hell of a series so far,” Hendricks said.

The magic number to eliminate the Brewers from the division race remains four, while the Cardinals were at five heading into their Saturday night game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs can’t wait to unleash Davis in October.

“There’s no difference between these three games and the games that are going to occur the next month,” Maddon said. “They were absolutely that intense.”

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

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USA TODAY

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

It’s been more than two weeks since Carlos Rodon was shut down for the season, one day after he was scratched from a start with shoulder inflammation.

And while we know Rodon won’t pitch again in 2017 — a season with just a little more than a week remaining for the rebuilding White Sox — the team still doesn’t know, or still isn’t ready to say, exactly what’s wrong with the former first-round draft pick.

“We’re just trying to get it right,” Rodon said before Saturday night’s game against the visiting Kansas City Royals. “Still trying to figure everything out and take everything we can and put it all together to get the most information and do what’s best for me and for this team.”

That kind of non-update might raise some red flags in the minds of White Sox fans, curious as to what is the latest ailment for a pitcher who missed three months this season while recovering from biceps bursitis.

Rodon was slated to get reevaluated shortly after that early September injury. He was, but no news came of it, at least not yet.

“Pretty similar to what our doc said,” Rodon said of that follow-up evaluation. “Like I said, we’re trying to still gather all the information and figure out what we’re going to do from there.”

Rodon ended his third season in the bigs with a 4.15 ERA in 69.1 innings of work. And while the White Sox still believe he’ll be a huge part of their starting staff moving forward, it’s plenty acceptable to wonder what kind of effects this season of injuries will have on Rodon as the franchise’s rebuild chugs along.

“He continues to be a big part of what we believe is the future of the organization,” manager Rick Renteria said after explaining several times that the team is still trying to figure out what’s wrong with Rodon. “Unfortunately, this year he's been down quite a bit. So assuming he comes back in a good situation and is healthy and is capable of going out and performing, he fits into one of the five guys that are going to be out there for us next season.”

For his part, Rodon is 100-percent confident he’ll be good to go for next year’s campaign.

“I just know that I’ll be ready for next season,” Rodon said. “The goal is to be ready for next year and be healthy through all of next season.”

That, though, will be the million-dollar question as the White Sox starting rotation of the future begins to take shape. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already penciled in for 2018, and Michael Kopech’s 2017 campaign in the minors was so sensational, he could potentially pitch himself into that starting five, too. With younger names like Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning also doing work in the minors, someone’s going to be the odd man out.

Rodon still has the confidence of his organization. But will he have the health to make that confidence pay off?