Cubs

Swing and a mist: Anthony Rizzo perfectly describes what it's like to hit against Stephen Strasburg

Swing and a mist: Anthony Rizzo perfectly describes what it's like to hit against Stephen Strasburg

Anthony Rizzo's been the king of money quotes so far this postseason.

The face of the franchise can't get no respect, but he certainly has some for Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

The Washington co-ace absolutely shut down Rizzo and the Cubs offense in Game 4 Wednesday, striking out 12 batters in 7 shutout frames on a windy, wet, frigid night at Wrigley Field.

That ran Strasburg's 2017 NLDS totals to 22 strikeouts in 14 innings, allowing six hits with nary an earned run (both runs in Game 1 were unearned). He also became the third pitcher ever to rack up multiple 10-K appearances in the same Division Series:

That led to an epic response from Rizzo, when a reporter asked this:

"How hard is it to hit Strasburg's change when it's working like that?"

Rizzo paused for a second, collecting his thoughts.

"Probably like you going over to Sluggers and trying to hit," Rizzo smirked. "He throws that fastball and it rises and then that changeup just falls off the planet. It's basically anybody who goes to a batting cage and doesn't know how to hit, that's what it feels like."

Mic. Drop.

Here's how good Strasburg was Wednesday night (courtesy of Baseball Savant):

He generated 22 swings and misses on 106 pitches. Of those, 15 swings and misses came on the 32 changeups he threw.

Strasburg averaged 95.4 mph with his four-seam fastball on the evening, racking up 13 called strikes with that pitch, forcing the Cubs to be aggressive on it.

By comparison, his changeup was coming in at 88.6 mph on average and like Rizzo said, fell off the face of the Earth.

So basically this was Strasburg on a night where gametime temperatures never climbed above 60 degrees and the wind was howling in on a consistent basis:

In the span of just a couple hours, Strasburg went from being called "soft" and having his manhood questioned by Nationals fans in DC to entering the conversation as another Mr. October. 

Strasburg may only have a 1-2 record in his three career postseason starts, but he's surrendered just one earned run in 19 innings (0.47 ERA) with 24 strikeouts and a 0.95 WHIP.

If you can't wait for baseball to be back, take a look at the Cubs' spring training schedule

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USA TODAY

If you can't wait for baseball to be back, take a look at the Cubs' spring training schedule

Set your alarm, there are only three more months till baseball is back.

The Cubs announced their spring training schedule Monday, getting folks all amped up for the 34 exhibition games in February and March.

Spring game action gets started Feb. 23 out in Arizona, with the Cubs taking on the Milwaukee Brewers to kick off Cactus League play. The Cubs' first home spring game at Sloan Park in Mesa comes the next day, Feb. 24.

In addition to a 32-game Cactus League slate, the Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians in a pair of exhibition games in Las Vegas. That 2016 World Series rematch comes March 17 and 18.

And of course, there will be three meetings with the White Sox, as both Chicago teams play their spring schedule out in Arizona. Those "Cactus Crosstown" games will be played Feb. 27 and March 10 in Mesa and March 16 in Glendale.

Here's the full schedule:

What if Jake Arrieta stays in the NL Central and repeatedly haunts the Cubs?

What if Jake Arrieta stays in the NL Central and repeatedly haunts the Cubs?

Jake Arrieta in a Brewers uniform?

That's not a sight Cubs fans would like to see, but the North Siders' I-94 rivals are apparently keen on trying to add Arrieta, the free-agent pitcher who's been one of the National League's top arms for the past several seasons.

The Cubs have their own decision to make on whether or not they're going to pursue re-signing Arrieta, a guy who over the past three seasons has posted a 2.71 ERA and struck out 589 batters, winning 54 games in 94 starts for a team that won the 2016 World Series and has advanced to three consecutive NL Championship Series.

The downside to losing Arrieta is obvious, as the Cubs would lose a huge part of their formidable starting rotation, but there would be an added downside if Arrieta were to remain in the NL Central and repeatedly haunt his former team.

Given Arrieta's track record, adding him would make sense for any team in the majors, but the Brewers in particular could use a front-of-the-line starting pitcher to boost their chances of besting the Cubs for the Central crown. The Brew Crew staged a surprising threat to do just that in 2017, perhaps proving that their rebuilding effort has yielded fruit ahead of schedule.

But there are questions in that rotation, with Jimmy Nelson expected to miss time next season after having shoulder surgery. Chase Anderson was great last season, and Zach Davies was solid, too. Brewers starters posted an ERA of 4.10 on the season, good for fifth in the NL. The four teams ahead of them, including the Cubs, all made the playoffs. Adding an arm as good as Arrieta's could make the difference in jumping past the Cubs in the Central and getting the Crew to the postseason for the first time since 2011.

And it'd be a plus for the Brewers to make it so Arrieta couldn't shut down their hitters anymore. In 15 career starts against the Crew, Arrieta is 8-4 with a 2.74 ERA. However, they'd surely love to have him call Miller Park home. He's never lost there in five starts, boasting a 2.03 ERA with 30 strikeouts.

There's an argument to be made that Arrieta would be able to seek revenge on the Cubs no matter what team he ends up pitching for, be it an NL team facing off against the Cubs in the playoffs or an American League squad meeting the Cubs in the World Series. After all, as Scott Boras put it, signing Arrieta is a ticket to "Playoffville."

But should Arrieta make the short drive to Wisconsin and set up shop in America's Dairyland, turning the Brewers into a legitimate playoff contender and challenger to the Cubs' grip on the NL Central crown? Well, consider the Cubs-Brewers rivalry cranked up to 11.