Cubs

CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (26-1)

Results: Defeated Orr 61-51, Curie 53-49 and De La Salle 59-51

This Week: No games scheduled.

Hoops Talk: Public League championship? Check. High-profile win at the City-Suburban Showdown? Check. IHSA championship?
2 Proviso East (24-0)

Results: Defeated Leyden 93-48, Downers Grove South 65-62 and Warren 73-66

This Week: Wednesday vs. Oak Park-River Forest, Saturday at Marquette University HS

Hoops Talk: Simeon might be the number one team, but the Pirates might as well be 1A. East jumped out to an 11-2 run over No. 4 Warren and never looked back.

3 Curie (24-2)

Results: Defeated Bogan 50-47; Lost to Simeon 53-49

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: Devin Foster scored 19 points against Simeon but Cliff Alexander was very quiet, scoring only four points. Curie will still be a force in the IHSA.

4 Warren (21-3)

Results: Defeated Lake Zurich 60-38, Libertyville 81-42; Lost to Proviso East 73-66

This Week: Wednesday at North Chicago

Hoops Talk: The Blue Devils need to bounce back for Wednesdays North Suburban Championship against Illinois State-bound Aaron Simpson and North Chicago.

5 Plainfield East (24-1)

Results: Defeated St. Charles East 79-69 and Plainfield South 64-45

This Week: Thursday at Oswego East

Hoops Talk: The Bengals, behind Dee Brown, Brian Bennett and Jawan Straughter, help bring East their first conference championship in any sport.

6 Andrew (21-1)

Results: Defeated Sandburg 53-43 and Thornridge 58-31

This Week: Tuesday vs. Thornwood, Thursday vs. Lincoln-Way West

Hoops Talk: 21 wins, most in school history, is nice. But Tuesdays game, which will decide the Southwest Suburban-Red, would be the biggest win of the year.
7 Bogan (23-3)

Results: Lost to Curie 50-47

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Bengals will be one of the toughest outs in the IHSA playoffs. Devonte Smith and Devaughn Johnson are two of the top players in the city.

8 Huntley (24-2)

Results: Defeated Jacobs 57-45, Cary-Grove 50-30 and Barrington 38-31

This Week: Friday vs. Grayslake Central

Hoops Talk: The Red Raiders, Fox Valley-Valley champs, have a star in Amanze Egekeze, but theyre also one of the best defending teams in the area.

9 Downers Grove South (19-5)

Results: Lost to Proviso East 65-62

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: Jamall Millison and Jerron Wilbut had great games, but Proviso Easts starting five proved to be too much on Friday night.

10 Elgin (21-3)

Results: Defeated Immaculate Conception 41-40 and Streamwood 67-28

This Week: Tuesday vs. Geneva

Hoops Talk: Kory Brown hit the game-winning free throw with two seconds left against I-C. Saturdays win over Streamwood marked five straight wins for Elgin.

11 Hillcrest (21-4)

Results: Defeated Tinley Park 67-55 and T.F. South 68-46

This Week: Friday at Lemont

Hoops Talk: Jalen Loving blocked six shots against T.F. South. A win Friday would give the Hawks the South Suburban-Blue conference title.

12 St. Ignatius (20-4)

Results: Defeated Loyola; Lost to Notre Dame 45-44

This Week: Wednesday at De La Salle, Friday vs. Mount Carmel

Hoops Talk: The mid-week battle at 35th & Michigan will go a long way in determining the Catholic North champ. Iggy would be in great shape with a win.

13 Bloom (23-3)
Results: Defeated Crete-Monee 57-49 and Thornton 58-47

This Week: Friday vs. Kankakee

Hoops Talk: Lejavius Johnson and Donald Moore led the Blazing Trojans this week. Bloom can claim the Southland title with a win Friday.

14 Orr (19-4)

Results: Lost to Simeon 61-51

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Spartans put together some nice runs against Simeon. Marquise Pryor, Deshawn King and company are looking forward to the state playoffs.

15 Marshall (20-7)

Results: No games played

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Commandos made it downstate four of the last five seasons. A late-season surge could help make that five out of six.

16 New Trier (20-5)

Results: Defeated Maine South 63-58 and St. Rita 59-41

This Week: Tuesday at Niles North

Hoops Talk: Connor Boehm was a force this week, racking up 23 points against Maine South and 16 more (along with 11 rebounds) against St. Rita.

17 West Aurora (21-4)

Results: Defeated Naperville North 64-53 and West Chicago 57-42

This Week: Wednesday at Glenbard East

Hoops Talk: Juwan Starks lit up Naperville North early and often Friday,and his efforts put the Blackhawks in a position to claim a share of the DVC title.

18 De La Salle (15-6)

Results: Defeated Hales 57-38; Lost to Simeon 59-51

This Week: Wednesday vs. St. Ignatius

Hoops Talk: The Meteors could not recover from a 22-6 opening run by Simeon. On a positive note, Alvin Ellis returned this week after an ankle sprain.

19 Seton (22-4)

Results: Defeated Hope Academy 97-75 and St. Francis de Sales 89-66

This Week: IHSA Class 2A Regionals

Hoops Talk: The Sting rang up six threes in a 35-point third quarter against Hope Academy.

20 Lemont (22-2)

Results: Defeated T.F. South 59-55 and Reavis 63-41

This Week: Tuesday vs. Glenbard South, Friday vs. Hillcrest

Hoops Talk: Can Juozas Balciunas and the Indians give the Hawks a run? A win would give them a share of the South Suburban-Blue.

Looming & Lurking: St. Rita, Hope Academy, Whitney Young, Metea Valley, Farragut, Mundelein, North Chicago, Riverside-Brookfield, St Viator, Oak Park-River Forest, Herscher, Immaculate Conception, York, Marist, St. Joseph

Enter Jim Hickey, the Cubs' new pitching coach tasked with shepherding one of baseball's best staffs

Enter Jim Hickey, the Cubs' new pitching coach tasked with shepherding one of baseball's best staffs

MESA, Ariz. — For years, Chris Bosio was credited as part of the reason for the Cubs’ recent string of pitching success. He helped turn Jake Arrieta into a Cy Young winner and oversaw pitching staffs that led the Cubs to three consecutive NLCS appearances and that curse-smashing World Series win in 2016.

But now it’s 2018, and Bosio is out. Jim Hickey is in.

The Cubs’ new pitching coach arrives with high expectations and has been tasked with shepherding a group of arms that saw a few too many bumps in the road last season. Jon Lester had his worst season in a long time, Jose Quintana’s numbers weren’t as good as they had been during his time with the White Sox, Tyler Chatwood led the National League in losses last season, and Yu Darvish got roughed up in a pair of World Series starts. And that’s before even mentioning the bullpen.

Still, even with all that said, the Cubs look to have, on paper, one of the best starting rotations in the game. And the upgrades in the bullpen have tempered some of the rage over the relief corps’ repeated postseason implosions. Theo Epstein’s front office had a mission this offseason to improve the pitching staff, and Hickey is a very large part of trying to accomplish that mission.

“What really was the slam dunk in my decision to come to Chicago or at least the finishing touches on it was getting to meet Theo, getting to meet Jed (Hoyer), going physically to Chicago, go to the offices there, seeing the physical building, meeting the people inside, just getting that vibe. Everybody was on the same page, and that page was winning,” Hickey said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. “And also built not just to win here for two or three years but for a sustained period of time, and that was what was very, very attractive.”

Hickey’s ties to the Cubs are obvious. He worked as Joe Maddon’s pitching coach in Tampa Bay for eight seasons before Maddon left to take over managing duties on the North Side. The two coached some phenomenal pitchers with the Rays, guys like James Shields, David Price, Scott Kazmir and Chris Archer and won an American League pennant in 2008. Prior to that, Hickey coached for the Houston Astros and oversaw a staff that included Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt en route to the 2005 World Series.

How does the Cubs’ rotation of Lester, Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Quintana and Chatwood compare to those great rotations from Hickey’s past?

“That’s a really tough question. But I think one through five, it may be as deep as any staff that I’ve had,” he said. “Really tough to say. I’ll give you a better idea after the season’s over, but one through five, it’s really, really good. Had some very, very good staffs, obviously, in years past. But these five guys, we talk about it all the time, the starters pitching innings and not falling into this pattern of starters being used less and less and the bullpen being used more and more.

“If you were to give me a staff of five guys, or give anybody a staff of five guys, that threw between 185 and 200 innings, you would probably have a championship-caliber club. And that’s what my expectations are out of this staff, and I think they will be a championship-caliber club.”

Hickey’s toughest task, though, likely won’t be working with all those veteran starters but instead working with a  bullpen that struggled under the bright lights of the postseason last October. While Cubs relievers had the sixth-lowest ERA in baseball during the regular season (3.80), the playoffs were a different story, with the bullpen rocked to the tune of a 6.21 ERA. Cubs relievers walked a postseason-high 27 batters while striking out only 35 in 37.2 innings.

The front office tried to fix that strike-throwing problem by bringing in new closer Brandon Morrow, who shone with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, and Steve Cishek, who has closing experience from his time with the Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners, plus he worked with Hickey last season in Tampa Bay.

But Hickey is the bigger key to fixing that problem, and it’s one of his biggest objectives to not just bring the walks down but make the Cubs one of the best staffs in baseball when it comes to issuing free passes.

“I really think that walks, especially out of the bullpen, are a little bit more of a mindset than they are anything physically or mechanically wrong,” he said. “You come into a situation where maybe you give up a base hit and maybe it changes the game, so you’re a little bit reluctant to throw the ball over the plate.

“So I think it’s more of a mindset, and once the group gets the mindset of ‘attack, attack, attack,’ it’ll be contagious. And I think it is contagious. I think last year it was probably contagious in that there was more walks than you would like, and I think as you turn the corner and head the other direction, that would be contagious, as well.

“I have very few outcome goals in a season. I don’t sit there and say, ‘I want to lead the league in earned-run average’ or ‘I want to lead the league in strikeouts.’ … But that one thing, that one outcome goal that I always have for a staff is to have the least amount of walks in the league. And I think at the end of the day, especially with the talent that’s out there, if that is the case, it’s going to be an extremely successful season.”

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.