Cubs

Cubs vs. White Sox: Jon Lester gets his shot at Chris Sale

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Cubs vs. White Sox: Jon Lester gets his shot at Chris Sale

The Cubs already felt like they’ve run the gauntlet against elite pitchers, and now here comes White Sox ace Chris Sale flying at them with his funky mechanics and left-handed spin. 

After getting shutout by Carlos Rodon and three White Sox relievers in Friday’s 1-0 loss, the Cubs will answer with their $155 million ace on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  

“Sale will bring a nice buzz to the park,” Jon Lester said. “Obviously, his stuff speaks for itself. He’s fun to watch. He’s wiry and asses and elbows going everywhere.”

[MORE: Could Cubs and White Sox get together on a Samardzija trade?]

Sale is 6-foot-6, 180 pounds and one of the most dominant pitchers on the planet. His run of eight straight starts with at least 10 strikeouts ended earlier this week, though he still threw a complete game and beat Mark Buehrle and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lester is coming into this high-profile matchup with his own sense of momentum. He finally broke his 0-for-66 streak and notched his first big-league hit on Monday night when a line drive bounced off the leg of St. Louis Cardinals right-hander John Lackey.

Lackey is an old friend from their time together with the Boston Red Sox, so Lester could point to the sky like Sammy Sosa after that infield single. Lester’s .031 average will be up on the video board when he faces Sale.

“If I was a betting man,” Lester said, “I probably wouldn’t bet on getting too many hits tomorrow, but I’m not a betting man. We’ll see. Obviously, Sale makes hitters that hit every day look pretty silly, so I would imagine that it should be interesting.” 

Sale is 7-4 with a 2.80 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP that ranks fifth in the majors. At the age of 26, he’s already earned four consecutive All-Star selections.

Lester (4-7, 3.48 ERA) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Cardinals – in a 6-0 loss that got ugly late. It’s been an up-and-down first half in the first season of that six-year megadeal.

It’s not staring down the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, but Lester vs. Sale will be entertaining.

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“He chucks the hell out of it,” Lester said. “It’s always fun when you go up against the best and you know you can’t let up too many. Or else we’re going to be in trouble.”

The Cubs have now been shutout eight times this season, and scored only one, two or three runs in 34 more games. That’s almost 50 percent of the schedule so far. They’re still 46-39, in third place in the National League Central and in position to win the second wild card.

“I don’t like to look ahead to the playoff picture or anything like that,” Lester said. “That’s putting the cart before the horse. We got a long ways to go, a lot of baseball (left). We got to play a lot of good teams. This division is very tough.

“You can assess right now: We’ve done pretty well. We’re (seven) games above .500. We’re right in the thick of things (while) having a young team that’s never been through anything like this. It’s a good buzz around here, the guys enjoy coming to the field and playing. We’ve been playing good baseball, and hopefully we continue that.” 

Bold predictions for the Cubs' 2019-20 offseason

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USA TODAY

Bold predictions for the Cubs' 2019-20 offseason

The Cubs are just a couple of weeks away from a pivotal offseason that could see a lot of change coming to Chicago's North Side.

Then again, we thought the same thing a year ago and it turned out Theo Epstein's biggest move last winter was signing Daniel Descalso to a two-year deal.

But after missing the playoffs in 2019, the Cubs are now at a crossroads as an organization. 

The NBC Sports Chicago crew previewed the offseason on the latest CubsTalk Podcast with some bold predictions for the winter.

Listen here and check out the fearless calls below:

(Note: Rationale and more context on each bold prediction in the podcast.)

David Kaplan

1. Cubs are going to take a page out of the Yankees' book and retool on the fly rather than go all-in to contend in 2020.
2. Jose Quintana has thrown his last pitch as a Cub.
3. This will be the second-to-last offseason for Theo Epstein as the Cubs president of baseball operations.

Kelly Crull 

1. Cubs re-sign Nick Castellanos and trade away Kyle Schwarber.
2. Tyler Chatwood will be in the 2020 rotation.
3. John Lackey will be named quality assurance coach on David Ross's coaching staff. (Kidding, but only kind of...)

Tony Andracki

1. Before the Cubs play a Spring Training game, Javy Baez will sign an extension that will keep him in Chicago through at least 2023.
2. Willson Contreras will be traded this winter and the Cubs will get some much-needed pitching help in return.
3. Cubs sign Howie Kendrick this winter as the professional bat and lefty-masher they craved in 2019.
4. Ben Zobrist will return on a one-year deal and finish his playing career in a Cubs uniform.
5. David Bote, Albert Almora Jr. and Addison Russell will all be traded or non-tendered this winter as the Cubs remake their bench/depth.

Jeff Nelson

1. Willson Contreras will sign a contract extension.
2. Ben Zobrist will return as a player/coach.
3. Jose Quintana will be traded for minor league depth.
4. Terrance Gore will be signed to be the 26th man on the roster under the new rules.

Theo Epstein’s dog damages Arizona rental property with excessive urine

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USA Today

Theo Epstein’s dog damages Arizona rental property with excessive urine

In the midst of an intensive hiring process for the new Cubs manager, Theo Epstein is being sued by an Arizona couple claiming Epstein’s dog, Winston, damaged their house. The cause of damage? Peeing excessively inside the property Epstein rented for spring training in 2015.

Yes, you read that right, Epstein’s dog peed so much he’s being sued.

The lawsuit was filed this Tuesday in Maricopa County, according to the Phoenix New Times, citing Epstein’s dog left “a terrible odor and urine-stained carpeting” in the Paradise Valley, Ariz., home where he and his family stayed.

Winston is a rescue mutt, weighing in at around ten pounds. He can’t pee that much, right?

The lawsuit states the dog "peed prolifically in the $1 million house, staining tile and stone flooring, wood door jams, cabinets, and furniture."

John and Mary Valentino referenced a 2017 quote by Epstein as proof that Winston had a peeing problem. When asked about being named the world’s greatest leader by Fortune magazine after the Cubs 2016 World Series win, Epstein said: “I can’t even get my dog to stop peeing in the house.”

Epstein left the rental property two weeks early due to a scorpion infestation later was shown a repair estimate of $51,405, according to the report.

Julian Green, the Cubs vice president of communications, told the New Times the lawsuit was “baseless.” He also said that an exterminator discovered 45 scorpions on the property that “put (Epstein’s) family at risk every time they put their children to sleep.” The Epsteins moved into a different house for the last two weeks of spring training.

The owners kept the $5,000 security deposit, and according to a source the Epsteins did not hear from them again for more than four years until the suit was filed Tuesday.

When asked about the lawsuit, Epstein replied, “As I said, we have no untouchables. Winston is definitely available in the right trade.”

We’ll be keeping tabs on this story as it unfolds. In the meantime, it’s good to see Epstein still has a sense of humor, even with a dog urine lawsuit and a Cubs managerial search on the line.

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