The Rundown: Cubs Staff in Dominant Stretch Right Now, Hendricks Baffles Diamondbacks, Happy Bake McBride Day Everybody!

The Cubs’ starting pitching staff is going through an incredibly dominant stretch right now. Check out these numbers covering their six wins going back to last week: 41.2 IP, 3 ER, 51 K, 8 BB, 0.65 ERA, 0.68 WHIP. There were three shutouts in those six victories

That is how you slam the brakes on a slow start. Sure, there was the one ugly outing against the Angels last Saturday, but nobody’s perfect and that was mostly on the bullpen, anyway. Even with that performance, the starting staff has an ERA of less than 1.00 in winning six of seven. If the Cubs can continue to make opposing offenses disappear with that type of consistency, who is really going to complain?

Yu Darvish gets the start today and I expect him to continue the current streak of sheer domination. I’m calling for double-digit strikeouts over seven or more innings with no more than three bases on balls. The Diamondbacks strike out at a rate of just under 25%, averaging nine whiffs per game against a little less than three walks.

Darvish will have to be spectacular because his mound opponent will be Zack Greinke. It should be a low-scoring affair, but I expect the Cubs to climb north of .500 for the first time since Opening Day.

Cubs News & Notes

How About That!

The Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball right now, though incredibly streaky. They’ve won six consecutive games…after losing six in a row…after winning five straight before that.

With the Red Sox slumping and the Yankees hurting, the Rays are the toast of the AL East. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, their 5 ½-game lead in the division on April 16 was the largest of any team in history that early in the season.

Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino was rather succinct in describing the No. 0 vs No. 0 MLB history he made last night, when facing Royals OF Terrance Gore: “I really don’t know what to say about it, honestly. Two guys with a stupid number.”

The Diamondbacks acquired catcher Blake Swihart in a deal with the Red Sox yesterday.

David Price was brutally honest in assessing Boston’s 6-13 start to the season.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson served his one-game suspension yesterday and did not comment on Wednesday’s ordeal with the Royals and pitcher Brad Keller. A person familiar with the penalty told The Associated Press that Anderson’s suspension was the result of his language, which was allegedly included in umpire Joe West’s postgame report.

Ruh-Roh…Reigning NL Cy Young Award Winner Jacob deGrom has been placed on the injured list with an elbow issue. DeGrom has been sent back to New York to get an MRI after his elbow was “barking” while playing catch on Friday

Friday’s Three Stars

  1. Kyle Hendricks – The Professor easily had the best start of the day in MLB, if not the entire week. A true breakout performance.
  2. Cubs fans in attendance at Wrigley Field yesterday – The team announced a game-time temperature of 44 degrees with the wind out of the north at 26 mph. That represented a real-feel temperature of 37 degrees. It probably felt about 30 degrees colder than that in the shade.
  3. Dan Vogelbach – A 1-for-3 game with a a home run and two RBI usually won’t make this list but there weren’t a lot of standout performances yesterday and I just love this kid.

Not a Star

Angels’ first baseman Justin Bour. This is an inexcusable play.

On Deck

A must-read story about former White Sox reliever Danny Faquhar. The pitcher suffered a near-fatal rupture of an aneurysm in his brain and collapsed in the dugout one year ago today.

In The Hole

It’s April 20th. Happy Bake McBride Day, everyone!

Extra Innings

They Said It

  • “Q and Cole have been doing an unbelievable job, just attacking guys. I think it’s filtering down to the rest of us now. I’ve just been trying to stay right in stride with them, establish the heater early, attack guys, don’t give in. I did have a couple walks that weren’t great, but at least I made good pitches even in that situation.” – Kyle Hendricks
  • “We all expected that, [the starting rotation] taking responsibility for themselves, for this team especially. I think that got into their minds — our biggest guy, Lester, went out, and we had to take his spot. Even when he comes back I hope they keep the same mentality out there.” – Willson Contreras
  • “One thing I’ve learned about Yu is he’s brutally honest and he is going to tell you exactly what he’s thinking at that moment. There’s no filter. And I think by him saying that the paradoxical intent is that he’ll walk (fewer) people.” – Joe Maddon
  • “If we don’t start playing better, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, maybe myself, we could get traded. We’re, what, 30th in minor league systems?” – David Price

Saturday Walk Up Song

One Step Beyond by Madness. The Cubs starting staff has been legitimately out of this world over the last week.

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