Cubs

Cubs closer Hector Rondon escapes bullpen bathroom and notches first playoff save

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Cubs closer Hector Rondon escapes bullpen bathroom and notches first playoff save

ST. LOUIS – Hector Rondon had just notched his first playoff save when the reporters inside Busch Stadium’s visiting clubhouse flocked toward his locker…to talk about how he got stuck in the bullpen bathroom on Friday night. 

The Cubs closer has an easy-going, good-natured personality, creating none of the drama you normally see with ninth-inning artists. And the surreal moment sort of made sense after all the ups and downs in Rondon’s career. 

The Associated Press ran the locked-in-the-bathroom story during Saturday’s 6-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, which Rondon finished by getting three groundballs outs and allowing only an infield single. Just like that, the Cubs turned this National League division series into a best-of-three grudge match.

[MORE: Cubs put the pressure back on Cardinals with Jake Arrieta up next]

Rondon went for a bathroom break in the fifth or sixth inning of Friday’s 4-0 loss. Here’s his side of the “MacGyver” story:     

“I was banging on the door: ‘Hey, I’m locked in!’ So they started to pull the door and I found like a metal (object)," Rodon said. "I put it between the door and it finally opened. But I had been there for like five minutes. 

“I started looking which way to get out, because they had like (an opening) over the door. So I think like: ‘Oh my God, I have to jump over there.’”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!

Rondon rolled with the Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2010, and the right-elbow issues that limited him to 10 innings combined during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The Cubs still saw something when the Cleveland Indians left their 2009 minor-league pitcher of the year exposed in the Rule 5 draft.  

The Cubs carried Rondon on the 2013 roster during a 96-loss season and watched him developed into the lights-out closer who’s saved 59 games across the past two years. Plus this playoff save against a big rival at Busch Stadium.   

“It’s something special for me, for all the hard work I’ve been doing,” Rondon said. “I enjoy that moment right now. I’m really happy.”

Javy Baez should be the frontrunner for NL MVP heading into the All-Star Break

Javy Baez should be the frontrunner for NL MVP heading into the All-Star Break

If the season ended today, Javy Baez may be your National League MVP.

Of course, the season isn't ending today, only the first half of the 2018 campaign is.

He flashed his skills again over the weekend — scoring the game-winning run Friday, posting a 5-RBI game Saturday and then drove in the Cubs' first run in their 7-4 victory Sunday to close out a sweep of the Padres.

Entering the All-Star Break, Baez should be the frontrunner for Most Valuable Player.

For starters, he's the best player on the best team in the league.

Thanks to a recent hot surge by the Cubs and an ugly weekend for the Brewers (who have lost 6 straight), Baez and Co. will go into the break with the best record in the NL. 

Baez, meanwhile, leads the Cubs in WAR and nearly every offensive category — OPS, slugging percentage, homers, RBI, runs scored, doubles, triples, total bases, stolen bases and hits.

And that's not even saying anything about his glovework at any position on the infield or dynamic baserunning.

He's on pace to become the first Cubs player to drive in 125 runs since Sammy Sosa in 2001.

Baez also is on track for a 30-30 season — something only Sosa accomplished in a Cubs uniform in 1993 and 1995. 

El Mago will enjoy his week in the Home Run Derby and as the NL's starting second baseman in the All-Star Game, but those shouldn't be the end of his accolades this year if he can find a way to keep this pace up in the second half.

What other NL candidate would be a better choice for the MVP right now?

Baez is tied for the league lead in RBI. Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar is just behind Baez with 70 RBI, but he also has 70 fewer at-bats than the Cubs star due to a platoon to begin the year. 

Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett are also having great years, but the Reds are nowhere close to a playoff spot. 

Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt are also having very good seasons on teams that are currently in the playoff hunt, but how do you deny the best player on the league's best team?

After all, where would the Cubs be without Baez this season? 

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have battled through injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness, the pitching staff has had all kinds of consistency/health woes and Willson Contreras has yet to find his power stroke at the plate.

At the very least, "El Mago" has been the most important player on the North Side of Chicago during the first 3.5 months of 2018.

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Cubs first-round pick Nico Hoerner made his debut with the Class-A South Bend Cubs, and he did not disappoint.

The 23-year old shortstop showed off impressive hops during an acrobatic grab in the topf of the second inning in his first game with the South Bend Cubs. Hoerner will surely be an exciting defensive prospect with ability like this.

As far as offense goes, through four at-bats at South Bend, Hoerner is batting .500, and this comes after he hit .318 with a home run and two RBI through seven games with the Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs Class A short-season affiliate.

Here is to hoping we continue to see big-time plays from Hoerner.