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4 #Cubs among BBWAA award finalists

Kris Bryant, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Joe Maddon were named finalists for their respective Baseball Writers Association of America awards.

Bryant,  who won NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, is a candidate for MVP this year along with the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy and the Dodgers’ Corey Seager. Hendricks and Lester, who finished 1-2 in ERA in the NL, are finalists for the Cy Young award, while Maddon was again a candidate for top manager honors. Maddon won the award last year.

The top manager will be announced on Nov. 15, the Cy Young winner on Nov. 16, and the MVP on Nov. 17.

#Cubs decline option on Hammel

The Cubs announced Sunday that the team has declined the $12 million option on Jason Hammel’s contract for 2017. The 34-year-old right-hander now becomes a free agent.

Hammel won a career-high 15 games, finishing 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts this season, striking out 144 over 166 2/3 innings.

In a statement, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein thanked Hammel for his contributions to the team.

“He was an effective, reliable starter the entire time he was a Cub, and this year he was an integral part of one of the best rotations in club history,” Epstein said. “We would not have been in a position to win the World Series without Jason’s terrific performance during the regular season. Jason and his family have been outstanding members of our organization and our community, and we are proud of their time with and impact on the Cubs.

“While Jason is healthy and primed to have another effective season in 2017, we have decided to consider other internal and external options for our starting rotation next year,” Epstein said. “Our hope is that by giving a starting opportunity to some younger pitchers under multiple years of club control, we can unearth a starter who will help us not only in 2017 but also in 2018 and beyond.”

Epstein said that when they agreed with Hammel on the two-year contract at the 2014 Winter Meetings, the option was included with the intent that it would be exercised if the pitcher was going to be with the Cubs in 2017.

“The intent was never to exercise the option and then trade Jason, so we will not consider that path,” Epstein said. “Instead, Jason will have the opportunity to enter free agency coming off an outstanding season and the ability to choose his next club. Meanwhile, the organization gains some flexibility and the opportunity to use a rotation spot to develop a younger, long-term starting pitcher.”

This move could benefit lefty Mike Montgomery, who made five starts with the Cubs after he was acquired from the Mariners for Dan Vogelbach. Montgomery compiled a 2.82 ERA in 17 appearances with the Cubs. As a starter this year, he was 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA in seven games, (including two with the Mariners.

The Cubs list of free agents also includes Dexter Fowler, Aroldis Chapman, Travis Wood, Joe Smith, Chris Coghlan, Trevor Cahill, and David Ross, who has said he’s retiring after this season.

#Cubs Game 7 lineup vs Indians

Cubs manager Joe Maddon liked Kyle Schwarber in the No. 2 spot as the designated hitter in the lineup for Game 6 of the World Series and will go with the same combination in Game 7 on Wednesday night against the Indians at Progressive Field.

Fowler CF

Schwarber DH

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist LF

Russell SS

Contreras C

Heyward RF

Baez 2B

Bryant and Rizzo were a combined 7-for-10 in Game 6, driving in three runs, while Russell had two hits and six RBIs.

Kyle Hendricks will make his second World Series start for the Cubs. The right-hander held the Tribe scoreless over 4 1/3 innings for a no-decision in the Cubs’ 1-0 loss in Game 3. Hendricks was the winning pitcher in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, holding them scoreless over 7 1/3 innings.

Hendricks is the fourth pitcher to lead the Majors in ERA and start Game 7 of the World Series in the same year, joining Hal Newhouser (1945), Sandy Koufax (1965) and Bob Gibson (1968).

This is Hendricks’ first start away from Wrigley Field since the regular season finale. He hasn’t lost on the road since July 26, and is 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA in seven road starts since.

 

#Cubs and Arrieta face Indians in G6

Kyle Schwarber may not be able to play in the field but he has been getting on base so manager Joe Maddon moved him up to the No. 2 spot in the Cubs lineup for Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. CT. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Schwarber DH

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist LF

Russell SS

Contreras C

Heyward RF

Baez 2B

Schwarber, who was unable to start in any of the three games at Wrigley Field, has three hits and two walks so far in the Series. He tore two ligaments in his left knee in the third game of the season and was not medically cleared to play in the field, so Schwarber has been limited to being the designated hitter. He batted fifth in Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland.

Jake Arrieta will make his fourth postseason road start, which is tied for the most by any pitcher in a single postseason. It’s the most by any Cubs pitcher, topping Kerry Wood’s three postseason road starts in 2003.

The Indians pitchers have been tough, combining for a 1.84 ERA in the five games so far. The Cubs were batting .210 in the World Series, and have been outhomered, 5-2.

 

November baseball: #Cubs Game 6 notes

Tuesday marks a franchise record for the Cubs’ latest game by date, regular season or postseason, but the team did play games in November before. According to historian Ed Hartig, on Nov. 1-15, 1888, just 128 years ago, the Cubs played exhibition games during a world baseball tour that included stops in Australia, Egypt, Italy, England and Ireland.

Jake Arrieta tonight makes his fourth postseason road start this season, which is tied for the most by any pitcher in a single postseason. It was last done by the Mets’ Jacob deGrom last year. It’s the most by a Cubs pitcher, surpassing Kerry Wood’s three postseason road starts in 2003.

Dexter Fowler leads all players with 10 runs scored this postseason, one shy of the Cubs single postseason record set by Kenny Lofton, who scored 11 in the 2003 playoffs.

 

#Cubs and Lester face Indians in Game 5

Jon Lester will start Sunday in Game 5 of the World Series, hoping to extend the Cubs’ season. Manager Joe Maddon did not shake up the lineup vs. the Indians and Trevor Bauer, who the Cubs beat in Game 2. First pitch will be 7:08 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field.

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist LF

Russell SS

Heyward RF

Baez 2B

Ross C

Lester P

The Cubs need to find some offense but it’ll be tough. The Indians pitchers are 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in the World Series so far, and 10-2 with a 1.68 ERA in the postseason overall, giving up six home runs over 12 games.

In the Indians’ three wins, they’ve walked four batters and fallen behind in the count, 2-0, 12 times. The Cubs drew eight walks in Game 2 against Trevor Bauer and Co., and four walks total in Games 1, 3 and 4.

This will be Ross’ final home game for the Cubs, and may be his last game. He’s retiring after this season, and in his regular season farewell on Sept. 25, Ross hit a solo home run to help the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 3-1. Lester also asked Maddon to come out and take the catcher out of the game so he could get the proper sendoff by the fans at Wrigley Field.

The Indians will try to win their first World Series since 1948, starting Bauer, who the Cubs beat in Game 2, collecting two runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings.

#Cubs notes prior to Game 5

Some things to think about prior to Game 5 of the World Series at Wrigley Field Sunday night:

*Teams to rally from 3-1 deficit in a best of seven World Series:
1925 Pirates (beat Senators)
1958 Yankees (beat Braves)
1968 Tigers (beat Cardinals)
1979 Pirates (beat Orioles)
1985 Royals (beat Cardinals)

The ’58 Yankees, ’68 Tigers and ’79 Pirates won Games 6-7 on the road.
* The Cubs are the 47th team in Major League history to win 103 plus games in a regular season. They are hoping to avoid being the 29th team with 103 wins that does not win a World Series. That list includes the 2004 Cardinals (105 wins); 2002 Yankees (103 wins), 2002 Athletics (103 wins), 2001 Mariners (116 wins), 1999 Braves (103 wins).

*The Indians have outscored the Cubs, 15-7, in the four games. The Indians pitchers are 3-1, 1.50 ERA in the World Series (they are 10-2, 1.68 ERA in the postseason).

*Overall, the Cubs are 13-25 in postseason at Wrigley Field, and 4-3 in 2016 postseason games at home. They also are 2-13 in World Series games at Wrigley.

#Cubs lineup vs Indians, Game 4

Jason Heyward returned to the lineup on Saturday for Game 4 and will make his first career World Series start for the Cubs, who need a win to even the series against the Indians. John Lackey gets the start. First pitch will be 7:08 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field.

Heyward has not started since Game 5 of the NLCS. He was batting 2-for-31 (.065) so far in the postseason, but manager Joe Maddon does like his defense in right field. The Indians will start Corey Kluber, who also pitched in Game 1, which Cleveland won, 6-0. Chris Coghlan started in right field in that game at Progressive Field.

Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist LF

Contreras C

Russell SS

Heyward RF

Baez 2B

Lackey P

Heyward isn’t the only one struggling this postseason. Baez is 1-for-9 with RISP and two outs so far. Russell is batting .050 (1-for-20) at home in the postseason. Anthony Rizzo is batting .130 (3-23 AB) at home in the postseason. Ben Zobrist is batting .150 (3-20 AB) at home in the postseason.

Teams that take a 3-1 series lead in a best-of-seven World Series have gone on to win 39 of 44 occasions (88.6 percent), including each of the last 10 occasions. The last team to take a 3-1 series lead and LOSE the Fall Classic was the 1985 Cardinals.

Zobrist’s wife, Julianna, will sing “God Bless America” before the game, and Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins will throw out first pitches.

#Cubs Game 3 lineup vs Indians

Jorge Soler started in right field and rookie Willson Contreras was behind the plate again Friday for the Cubs in Game 3 of the World Series against the Indians. First pitch was scheduled for 7:08 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field.

Kyle Schwarber, who went 3-for-7 as the designated hitter in the first two games in Cleveland, is delegated to being a pinch hitter. Schwarber has made an amazing return after tearing two ligaments in his left knee in the third game of the season, but was not given medical clearance to play in the outfield.

Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist LF

Contreras C

Soler RF

Baez 2B

Russell SS

Hendricks P

The Cubs will miss Schwarber but their pitchers are 4-for-21 (.190) with two home runs and six RBIs in the postseason so far, which includes Hendricks’ two-run single in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Giants.

Soler is 0-for-10 in the playoffs but right-handed hitters batted .299 against Indians starter Josh Tomlin this season while lefties hit .229. Soler may get one into the wind, too. It was blowing out at Wrigley Field.

 

#Cubs lineup for Game 2 World Series

Kyle Schwarber was back in the Cubs lineup on Wednesday for Game 2 of the World Series, batting fifth, but manager Joe Maddon decided to start catcher Willson Contreras and Jorge Soler in right.

Miguel Montero has been paired up with starter Jake Arrieta in the postseason but Maddon hinted he may switch to Contreras, who has had better success throwing out base runners. Soler is 0-for-8 so far in the postseason, but batted .474 in the playoffs last year.

The Cubs are looking for offense after being shutout in Game 1, 6-0. So far, the Cubs have scored five or more runs in seven of their 11 postseason games, but have scored just one run combined in the other four games.

Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist LF

Schwarber DH

Baez 2B

Contreras C

Soler RF

Russell SS

Schwarber went 1-for-3 with a walk in Game 1 on Monday, collecting his first hit in the Majors this year. He’s the first National League player (including pitchers) with a World Series hit and no regular season hits since Jesse Orosco in 1986.