Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Surging Astros not No. 1...yet

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MLB Power Rankings: Surging Astros not No. 1...yet

May is here and with it comes the biggest shocker of them all - the Houston Astros are a good team, you guys. Like, a REALLY good team. A 10-game winning streak was enough to bump Houston up to No. 2, but not enough to overcome the rallying St. Louis Cardinals, who retain the top spot even without Adam Wainwright.

With that comes another week of MLB Power Rankings from CSNChicago.com's Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz. 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

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

Matt Carpenter (14 2Bs, only 15 Ks) leading the charge as they once again rally following key injury.

2   11

They’re winners of 10 in a row and are projected by FanGraphs to finish with the most wins in the AL West (85). If they can add one more starter during the season, yeah, I’m buying them as a playoff contender. 

3   5

Through 80 2/3 innings, their bullpen has an ERA of 1.00. 

4   4

On a four-game winning streak as Clayton Kershaw goes for win No. 100 Monday night.

5 10

Relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have combined for 48 strikeouts in 28 innings. 

6   2

Mets have fallen back to Earth a bit, dropping three straight series.

7 3

It’s still way too early, but for the first month of they season they’ve easily won the Yoenis Cespedes-Rick Porcello trade. 

8 6

They're so hot and cold - lost 7 of 8 before sweeping Colorado over the weekend.

9 8

Did you actually think the young guys would just have success without struggles?

10   17

Losing Ben Zobrist for four-to-six weeks is a tough blow. 

11   9

Does it help them sleep at night to know they just dropped three straight one-run, extra-inning games to the Cardinals? Probably not...

12   15

Did well to take two of three from Tampa in a “home” series at the Trop over the weekend. 

13 18

They've won 5 of 6 and actually seem to be hitting their stride.

14 12

Matt Moore continues working his way back from Tommy John and could be an awfully strong mid-season addition barring a setback. 

15 21

Dee Gordon leads Major League Baseball in WAR. I repeate: Dee Gordon leads Major League Baseball in WAR.

16 14

Jose Bautista won’t need a stint on the disabled list, which is welcome news for the Blue Jays and anyone who likes titanic home runs. 

17 16

Is Jered Weaver toast? His already-slow fastball is down to averaging 83.1 mph this year and he’s been rocked in six starts (6.29 ERA, eight home runs). 

18 26

Over .500 but doing it with some awfully shaky starting pitching. If they don’t hang around, they’ll give some AL Central contenders problems in August and September, though. 

19 22

Nelson Cruz has more home runs (13) than the White Sox as a team (12). 

20   7

Pablo Sandoval is fitting in well at Fenway, hitting .326/.400/.438 so far. 

21 23

Went 7-2 against L.A. teams in the last 10 days. Certainly helps their stock.

22 24 Horrible news about Homer Bailey. Shoulda just had Tommy John last year and been done with it.
23   20

Nick Markakis has been great atop the lineup (.394 OBP). Too bad he's slugging just .326...

24 28

Oddly enough, the only series they’ve won this year came against Houston (in the first series of the year). 

25 25

Paul Goldschmidt (.356/.448/.622) would be NL MVP every year if he was on any other team.

26 19

Have favorable matchups with Jeff Samardzija, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana facing the Tigers at home this week. Now would be a good time to start righting the ship. 

27 26

Fortunately for them, there’s no relegation in baseball and they can’t suffer the same fate of their Queens Park relatives in England.  

28 13

Ended the week on a 5-game losing streak, meaning they are officially off all contender lists.

29 30

They get 2 key guys back from injury (Gomez/Ramirez), win two divisional games on the road and THEN fire Roenicke? OK...

30   29

Chase Utley (.108 AVG - .087 BABIP) is the unluckiest player on Earth.

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”

Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.

However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.

Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts.

All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.

Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.

Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending  upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.

Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.

Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.

Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

On Saturday, the Cubs announced that they are placing starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks on the 10-day I.L.with right shoulder inflammation. 

Following Hendricks' injury, the Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick from Triple-A. Wick will be available on Saturday night and beyond, as the Cubs continue their four-game series against the Dodgers. 

This obviously a significant blow for the Cubs, as Hendricks is the team leader in innings pitched (88.1).

Prior to his loss on Friday night, Hendricks had won three straight outings, giving up less than 3 ER in each game. 

The Cubs have plenty of options to replace Hendricks for the time being. With an off day until Monday, they could keep their rotation intact. Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery are options, and the Cubs could push Hendricks next start back to by going with a spot starter. 

Stellar pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is another intriuging option, and he is coming off of a great outing with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. On Fridaym he racked up 9 strikeouts, giving up 8 hits and 2 ER. 

The 24-year old Alzolay is ranked as the Cubs' fourth-overall prospect and the Hendricks injury could open the door for Alzolay to get called up.

The more likely scenario is that Cubs manager Joe Maddon chooses to use Chatwood. 

Chatwood is the only pitcher outside of the everyday rotation to have made a start this year and is the most obvious stopgap solution until we get further updates on Hendricks' status.