Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: All-in Blue Jays starting to show they're for real

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MLB Power Rankings: All-in Blue Jays starting to show they're for real

The Blue Jays had one of the biggest trade deadlines of all-time, acquiring two of the best players in the game in David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. Behind Price's stellar outing Monday, Toronto is showing it's for real as the AL pennant race heats up. 

Meanwhile, in the National League, the Cubs are finally taking advantage of a soft schedule and the NL wild card race is setting up to be one for the ages as the Cubs battle the Pirates, Giants and Mets.

With that comes another week of MLB Power Rankings from CSNChicago.com's Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz. Stay with us every Monday from here through October for a fresh set of rankings.

Stay tuned for updated rankings every Monday throughout the 2015 campaign. Here's where we're at so far: Preseason rankings | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

Underrated moves (Brandon Moss, Steve Cishek) at the deadline, but will it be enough?

2   2

Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist should help them not only cruise to the playoffs, but have a better shot at reaching the World Series again.

3 3

Extremely rough blow with the Burnett injury, but they do have some solid pitching depth to help absorb his loss.

4   4

Sweeping the Angels and holding off the Giant's latest run helps prove they're worthy of a Top 5 slot in these rankings.

5 7

Almost quietly, they’re five and a half up in the AL East and with a deep lineup and good enough pitching should stay there throughout August and September. 

6 8

Remember when everyone assumed they were still going to be rebuilding this year? Nobody could’ve seen Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez coming. 

7 5

This is gonna be a fantastic battle for the two wild card spots.

8 11

Finally starting to take advantage of the soft part of their schedule.

9 9

Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth returning to form would be a major wild-card for this team moving forward.

10 12

Lucas Duda is red-hot, as are the Mets, who just swept the Nats.

11   13

Add David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, then take three of four from Kansas City. Could a first playoff appearance in 22 years be at the end of the road?

12 6

Losers of six in a row and nine of their last 10 entering the week. All of a sudden, they’re only 1.5 games ahead of the second wild card spot. 

13 14

Ubaldo Jimenez hasn’t leveled out since the All-Star break and has a 10.61 ERA in his last four starts. 

14 10

It looks like their Cinderella playoff bid is crumbling, but in an aggressively mediocre American League, they definitely could still make a playoff appearance. 

15 15

Chris Archer vs. Chris Sale on Tuesday night. You’re gonna want to watch that one. 

16 16

Cole Hamels isn’t in Arlington for just 2015, obviously, but he could be a reason why they’re playing in the wild card game come October. 

17 18

Why didn't they do anything at the deadline then? So bizzare...

18 17

Smartly sold at the deadline (Daniel Norris was a great pickup) but enter the week still in the wild card race.

19 20

Welington Castillo with the D-Backs: .293/.379/.585 (.964 OPS) with 9 HRs and 9 2Bs.

20 19

Need to right the ship against Tampa Bay with a weekend trip to Kansas City looming. 

21 23

If they had given their pitching staff an above average defense behind them, this year might be a different story. 

22 21 Ten games under .500 and even in a parity-rich American League don’t look to be a playoff team again. 
23 24

Joey Votto in July: .405/.549/.667 (1.215 OPS) and a ridiculous 26:16 BB:K ratio. 

24 22

This lineup looks sad. Seems like they're going to be gunning for the Phillies and the No. 1 pick, eh?

25 26

Fenway Sports Group has way too much money tied up in underperforming players. Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Rick Porcello, Mario Balotelli…

26 25

Doesn’t look like they have a patented August hot streak in them to get back into the playoff race.

27 27

Happy to see Carlos Gonzalez tearing it up again. Baseball is better with him as a premier player.

28 29

Carter Capps and his weird motion have emerged as an elite setup man, averaging 16.84 K/9.

29 28

They're in full rebuild mode after Carlos Gomez trade, but they need to get a ton of pitching this offseason to get back on the map.

30 30

They pulled off a nice haul on the Hamels deal, but still unsure if that move will pay any immediate dividends at the big-league level.

With Cubs reeling, Jon Lester comes up big and plays stopper

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USA TODAY

With Cubs reeling, Jon Lester comes up big and plays stopper

The last three games have been more than forgettable for the Cubs.

From Wednesday’s 11-1 drubbing at the hands of the Phillies to back-to-back walk-off losses on Thursday and Friday, the Cubs’ current road trip has looked much like those that preceded it. At various times, the offense has scuffled, the rotation has pitched a clunker and the bullpen has cracked.

The solution to the latest road trip woes? Give the ball to Jon Lester and get the hell out of the way.

Lester —  who pitched a clunker himself Aug. 6 against the A’s — did what the Cubs have become so accustomed to see him do over the past four seasons. The 35-year-old tossed 6+ shutout innings, allowing just four hits, leading the Cubs to a 2-0 win.

Lester had no room for error on Saturday, as the Cubs offense went hitless for the first 4 1/3 innings. While the Cubs bats were asleep, the Pirates threatened to break the game on open multiple times, loading the bases with one out (first inning), no outs (fifth) and getting runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth.

The latter two of those instances were assisted by errors by third baseman Kris Bryant, but that’s neither here nor there. Point being, with how the Cubs looked offensively, any Pirates runs could have proved critical on Saturday. Instead, Lester worked out of every jam, stymying the Pirates bats to an 0-for-12 line with RISP.

Winning Saturday’s game was obviously important for the Cubs, as it puts them a game ahead of the Cardinals in the win column (pending the outcome of St. Louis's game against the Reds later Saturday). But it was equally important for Lester, who called himself the “weakest link” in the Cubs starting rotation after that tough outing against the A’s.

The beautiful thing about baseball is that the regular season is 162 games long. Each day presents teams with a new slate, a chance to forget about what happened in the previous game and move forward.  If Saturday’s start shows anything, it’s that Lester and the Cubs are more than capable of putting a tough game in the rearview mirror and keep moving forward.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Get to know Kelly Crull podcast

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NBC Sports Chicago

Cubs Talk Podcast: Get to know Kelly Crull podcast

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, we get to know Kelly Crull. Kelly tells Luke Stuckmeyer about her love of bowling growing up, why she became a reporter and some of her favorite moments covering the Cubs.

01:00 Kelly's love of tennis at an early age

04:00 Following basketball while growing up in Indiana

06:00 Possible tennis showdown between Kelly and Megan Mawicke

09:30 Kelly talks about working in London & interviewing J.K. Rowling

14:00 When did she decide to become a reporter?

15:00 What is her favorite food?

16:00 Kelly's go-to karaoke song

18:00 Kelly's favorite NBA story (it involves Kevin Durant)

21:00 Favorite moments covering the Cubs

24:00 Dealing with the weather at Wrigley Field

28:00 Something we don't know about Kelly

31:00 What does Kelly enjoy watching at home the most?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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