Cubs

Asik returns to Chicago to help Rockets crush Bulls

969791.png

Asik returns to Chicago to help Rockets crush Bulls

The Houston Rockets played Grinch to Bulls, spoiling their Christmas with a 120-97 clobbering.

Looking to bounce back after an embarrassing 92-75 loss to Atlanta on Saturday, coach Tom Thibodeau knew his club would have their hands full with the leagues highest scoring team.

The one thing about them is you have to play for 48 minutes, Thibodeau said prior to tipoff. If you let your guard down at all, youre going to be in trouble with their ability to score the ball. If you jog back, they push the ball after makes and misses, and you have to take those easy shots away.

His insights would come to fruition as Houston dominated the Bulls in every aspect and never seemed to be truly challenged in getting what they wanted.

Houston finished with a 31-8 advantage in fast break points and dominated in the paint, 62-32.

The Rockets were up 17 at halftime and led by as many as 35 in the second half. The Bulls were able to cut their deficit to as low as 15 in the fourth, thanks in large part to a scoring spree by Nate Robinson. But Houstons starters would come in and close the game to the tune they had established from the start.

Robinson led the Bulls with a game-high 27 points.

James Harden led Houston with 26 as all five of their starters scored in double figures.

Former Bull Omer Asik finished with 20 points, 18 rebounds and three blocked shots in his United Center return.

Who Knew? Cubs at the All-Star Break

Who Knew? Cubs at the All-Star Break

With a break in the action, let’s take a look at the season so far.

 

Today, I’ll focus on the first 57.4 percent of the Cubs’ 2018 season. Which is to say, the 93 games before the All-Star Break. Clearly more than “half.”

 

In all seasons with an All-Star Game (1933-present, minus 1945)

 

This is the fifth time the Cubs have had the National League’s best record at the All-Star Break.

 

Here is the entire list (note – 2016 is NOT on this list. They trailed the Giants by 3 games at the Break in 2016):

1937 44-25 +2.0
1969 61-37 +5.0
2001 51-35 +0.5
2008 57-38 +4.5
2018 55-38 +2.5

Which is incredible since:

  • Anthony Rizzo has a wRC+ of 100, which is league average

(he was at 131 – 31% better than league average - through the All-Star break last season)

  • Kris Bryant has missed 23 games and has only 10 home runs
  • The Cubs as a team have 30 fewer Home Runs through 93 games than they did last season

(100 this season, 130 last season)

  • The Cubs have had six pitchers make 8 or more starts this season and only one (Jon Lester – 2.58) has an ERA under 3.90
  • Cubs pitching has an MLBhigh walk percentage of 11.0%

(Tyler Chatwood’s 9 starts with 5 or more walks is most in a season by a Cubs pitcher since Dick Drott’s 13 in 1957)

  • Cubs have outscored their opponents by only one run in the first inning (5251)

This includes being outscored 18-13 in the first inning in Kyle Hendricks’ 19 starts

  • Cubs are 57 against the Reds

(they were 27-11 against Cincinnati in 2016-17)

 

That being said, it’s not so incredible since…

  • The Cubs have scored at least 10 runs 15 times this season. No other team has done it more than 12 times.
  • Jason Heyward has a wRC+ of 109 (he’s 9% better than league average).

This is notable because in 2016 he was at 71 (29% worse than league average) and 88 in 2017 (12% worse than league average).

  • The Cubs have EIGHT qualified players with at least a .340 OnBase pct. (and Ian Happ, who is eight PA short of qualifying, is at .379)

The only qualified Cub with a SUB-.340 OBP is Javier Báez (.326 – a career-high). However…

  • Javier Báez has 50 extrabase hits in 91 games. Last season he had 49 extra-base hits in 145 games.

Báez is the first player in Cubs history with 15 Doubles, 5 Triples, 15 HR and 15 Stolen Bases before the All-Star Break**.

Báez is the first player in MLB history with 18 Doubles, 6 Triples, 18 HR and 18 Stolen Bases before the All-Star Break**.

 

**seasons with an All-Star Game – 1933-present (minus 1945)

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Cubs truly the best NL team at the All-Star break?

10-11_lester_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Cubs truly the best NL team at the All-Star break?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Hub Arkush, Jordan Bernfield and Fred Mitchell join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel. 

The Cubs have the best record in the National League at the All-Star Break but it doesn’t feel like it. Can they still win the N.L. pennant? And will the Home Run Derby mess up Kyle Schwarber or Javy Baez’s swings?

Plus, Will Perdue drops by to talk about Jabari Parker’s signing. He also shares his surprising prediction for how the Bulls will do next season.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: