Cubs

CSN delivers its highest-rated Cubs regular season telecast in network history

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CSN delivers its highest-rated Cubs regular season telecast in network history

NEW All-Time CUBS (and new CSN Chicago “regular season” All-Time) TV Ratings Record: 11.19 (#1 in Chicago market); solid 6.0 rating in the key Adults 25-54 demo

Close to 389,000 Chicago TV homes watched CSN’s entire Cubs-Brewers game coverage (7:00 – 10:15 PM);

Over 465,000 homes were tuned in during the peak quarter-hour of 10:00-10:15 PM

CSN Chicago was also #1 in the Chicago market for 12-STRAIGHT HOURS (12:30 PM to 12:30 AM)

Chicago, IL (September 16, 2016) – Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the 2016 NL Central Division champion Chicago Cubs, delivered its highest Cubs single game rating ever last evening (September 15) -- an 11.19 Chicago market household rating for its live coverage of the Cubs match-up against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.  The 11.19 Chicago market household (HH) rating on CSN last evening also shattered the following previous records:

  • NEW Cubs game rating record for CSN Chicago (previous Cubs high on CSN – 8.30 HH on July 28, 2008 vs. MIL)
  • NEW record for the highest-rated Cubs game in the history of any Chicago regional sports network (previous Cubs high occurred on Fox Sports Net Chicago – 8.49 HH: Cubs at HOU on June 16, 2004)
  • NEW record for the highest-rated regular season game telecast – for any team – in CSN Chicago history (previous high – 8.73 HH: Bulls vs. IND on January 25, 2012)

For last night’s Cubs telecast, Comcast SportsNet attracted approx. 388,875 Chicago market households for the entire length of the game (7:00-10:15 PM) and scored a 13.4 “peak” rating during the 10:15 PM quarter-hour (over 465,600 Chicago market households).  Source for all ratings information is provided by Nielsen Media Research overnights.

Comcast SportsNet was also the #1-highest rated television network in the Chicago market for TWELVE-STRAIGHT HOURS (from 12:30 PM-12:30 AM) among Chicago DMA households last night & in virtually every key demographic category – which included the following roster of CSN programming:  White Pregame Live presented by the Kowalis Family of Dealerships (live), White Sox vs. Cleveland game telecast (live), Subaru White Sox Postgame Live (live), Bears Blitz presented by Xfinity (live), SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado (live), SportsNet Central presented by Comcast Business (live), Bases Loaded (live), Cubs vs. Milwaukee game telecast (live), Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois (live), The Hard Count with Brian Urlacher presented by RESTORE (premiere), Inside Look: Kyle Hendricks presented by Cadillac (premiere), Pro Football Weekly, and SportsNet Central presented by CLR

Through 72 live telecasts so far this season, the Cubs on Comcast SportsNet are currently averaging a 4.52 Chicago market household rating, an increase of 36% compared to last season’s final 3.32 HH average.  In addition, Cubs games on CSN this season have also experienced massive year-to-year increases in every key demo category, including Adults 18-49 (up 36%) and Adults 25-54 (up 57%).

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Comcast SportsNet’s next Cubs telecast airs TODAY (Friday, September 16), as the Cubs will continue their home series against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Live coverage from the Wrigley Field gets underway with Cubs Pregame Live presented by Field Auto Group at 12:30 PM CT with first pitch set for 1:20 PM.  THEN…immediately after the game on Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, CSN will take viewers inside the Cubs clubhouse for LIVE coverage of the team’s official 2016 NL Central Division Championship celebration. 

Remember that guy? Former Cubs shortstop Ricky Gutiérrez

Remember that guy? Former Cubs shortstop Ricky Gutiérrez

Ricky Gutiérrez played in the Majors from 1993-2004. He played shortstop for the Cubs from 2000-01 and later signed with them again in June 2004. 

However, Gutiérrez never got back to the Majors with the Cubs, who sent him to the Red Sox the following month. His final Major League game was with the Red Sox on Oct. 3, 2004, the final game of the 2004 regular season; he didn’t play in the 2004 postseason. Gutiérrez was subsequently signed and released by a few other teams, including the White Sox in 2005.

Gutiérrez holds the distinction of being the first Cubs player to hit a regular season grand slam against the White Sox (July 12, 2001). In his two seasons with the Cubs, he tied for the Major League lead in sacrifice bunts both years (16 in 2000, 17 in 2001) which was odd since he had a grand total of 18 sacrifice bunts in his 847 career games NOT in a Cubs uniform. He also had uncharacteristic power with the Cubs:  21 home runs for Chicago in 272 games, 17 home runs with everyone else (847 games).

What Cubs fans probably remember most is what Gutiérrez did against them. On May 6, 1998 he had the lone hit (many dispute it should have been ruled an error) for the Astros off Kerry Wood in Wood’s 20-strikeout masterpiece at Wrigley Field (Gutiérrez was responsible for two of the strikeouts). 

Later that season, on June 26, the number 20 and Gutiérrez were again connected when he had a 20-pitch battle against Bartolo Colón, which ended in a strikeout. It remained the last plate appearance in the Majors of at least 20 pitches until Brandon Belt flew out on the 21st pitch of an at-bat against the Angels' Jaime Barria on April 22, 2018.

Gutiérrez’s nephew, James Jones, played 14 seasons in the NBA for the Pacers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Heat and Cavaliers.

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

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USA TODAY

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

On July 15, Brandon Morrow recorded his 22nd save of the season with a scoreless inning in San Diego. It wound up being the last time he pitched in a game for the Cubs in 2018. 

Four days later, during the All-Star break, the Cubs made a move to bolster their bullpen, acquiring Jesse Chavez from the Rangers in exchange for minor league hurler Tyler Thomas. It wasn’t even the biggest trade they’d make with the Rangers that month – a little over a week later they dealt for Cole Hamels. 

Despite pitching nearly half the innings, Chavez was almost as valuable as Hamels.

2018 with Cubs IP fWAR
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.1
Cole Hamels 76.1 1.5

Chavez made his Cubs debut on July 21; from July 21 through the end of the season, 187 pitchers tossed at least 30 innings. 185 of them had a higher ERA than Chavez, while 184 of them allowed more baserunners per 9 innings.

Best ERA, July 21-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP ERA
Blake Treinen 32.1 0.56
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.15
Blake Snell 61.2 1.17
Trevor Bauer 35.0 1.29
Trevor Williams 71.2 1.38
Robert Stock 36.0 1.50

Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, July 32-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP BR/9 IP
Blake Treinen 32.1 5.85
Blake Snell 61.2 7.15
Jesse Chavez 39.0 7.15
Jacob deGrom 93.2 7.49
Scott Oberg 30.2 7.63
Josh Hader 33.1 7.83

But how did Chavez transform into one of Joe Maddon’s best bullpen arms down the stretch?  According to Chavez, his own transformation started on Mother’s Day.

Chavez entered a game in Houston with a 5.48 ERA in a dozen appearances, but pitched three innings with no hits, no walks and four strikeouts. From that point through the end of the season, he posted a 1.70 ERA and 0.892 WHIP. 

Chavez points to a change in arm slot which resulted in better consistency and a slight jump in velocity. A glance at his release point charts show that consistency, and he added roughly one mile an hour to his fastball.

"It's kept me more consistent in the zone," Chavez said. "Things have been sharper, velocity has been a lot sharper. I was huffing and puffing trying to get a 92 (mph fastball) out there and it wasn't coming.

"Next thing you know, I dropped it and it's right there, and I'm like, 'something's wrong here.' But I just took it and ran with it."

Jesse Chavez 2018 four-seam fastball velocity

  Average Max
Prior to May 13 92.6 mph 94.6 mph
May 13 on 93.6 mph 95.7 mph

Can Chavez be valuable in 2019?  The 35-year old reliever posted the best ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.059) and walk rate (4.5% - nearly two percent better than his previous best) in 2018, and he continued to get better as the season went on. 

He’s a former starter who can pitch multiple innings if needed, and that’s a valuable thing - especially for a manager like Joe Maddon, who uses his pitchers in a variety of ways. It’s unlikely he’ll have a second consecutive career year.

But he’ll likely be well worth the price tag; he only made $1 million in 2018, and even with a slight raise he should be very affordable. There’s definitely room in Maddon’s bullpen for a pitcher like Chavez.