Cubs

'No rules' for Game 7: Jon Lester will be ready if Cubs need another World Series moment

'No rules' for Game 7: Jon Lester will be ready if Cubs need another World Series moment

CLEVELAND – Jon Lester understands the first rule of Game 7 in the World Series – “there’s really no rules” – so obviously the $155 million ace the Cubs signed for this exact scenario will be ready to pitch out of the bullpen on Wednesday night. 
 
But Lester has too much respect for Kyle Hendricks – a fellow Cy Young Award contender this year – to make this about himself. Lester knows Hendricks will be thoroughly prepared to face this Cleveland Indians lineup. Lester respects how Hendricks always keeps his composure and won’t get rattled by the deafening noise at Progressive Field.
 
“Hopefully, nothing weird is needed,” Lester said after watching his teammates dismantle Cleveland during a 9-3 win in Game 6. “Hopefully, Kyle is Kyle and the guys that have gotten us here are called upon – and I keep my happy little butt right there in the dugout – and I don’t have to worry about anything.”
 
Manager Joe Maddon clearly has trust issues with his overall bullpen, using closer Aroldis Chapman to get the final eight outs after Lester controlled Cleveland for six innings during a 3-2 win in Game 5. Chapman threw 42 pitches on Sunday night – and then 48 hours later got four outs in a game where the Cubs had jumped out to a seven-run lead.
 
“If we’re in that weird situation and they have to bring me in, then we have three months to recover,” Lester said. “I’ll do what I can. If (Joe) wants me to get one out, if he wants me to get whatever, it's the same thing when I start a game: I’ll pitch until you take me out. I don’t make those decisions. Hopefully, it’s null and void.”

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Lester pitching in November would be the exclamation point to an amazing October. He beat Johnny Cueto and the San Francisco Giants in a 1-0 divisional-round game and earned co-MVP honors in the National League Championship Series after the Cubs won both of his starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
 
Lester is simply one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation (2.62 ERA in 130-plus postseason innings), a two-time World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox who already saw this movie when Theo Epstein’s front office sent him a recruiting video after the 2014 season. It built up to the climactic scene where play-by-play man Len Kasper describes the Cubs finally winning their first World Series title since 1908.
 
“I think that was more to show off their video-board ideas than it was to recruit me,” Lester said. “They were showing me kind of the future of Wrigley and what it was going to look like with the video boards and the new dugouts and the new bullpen and all this other stuff.
 
“But ask any of us – ‘J-Hey’ (Jason Heyward) and ‘Lack’ (John Lackey) and ‘Zo’ (Ben Zobrist) and ‘Rossy’ (David Ross). That’s why we came here – to bring a championship to Chicago and be a part of that team that does that and breaks that whole deal.” 

Cubs expected to hire Mike Napoli — David Ross' former teammate — as quality assurance coach

Cubs expected to hire Mike Napoli — David Ross' former teammate — as quality assurance coach

David Ross will not only be managing former teammates with the Cubs in 2020, but he'll be coaching alongside one, too.

The Cubs are expected to add former MLB catcher Mike Napoli to Ross' coaching staff, per multiple reports. Napoli will assume the title of quality assurance coach, vacated by Chris Denorfia, who held the position for one season.

Napoli played in parts of 12 big-league seasons from 2006-17 with the Angels, Rangers, Red Sox and Indians. He won the 2013 World Series with Boston — alongside Ross and Cubs starter Jon Lester — and was also a key figure with the 2016 Indians, whom the Cubs defeated in the World Series. He finished his career with a .246/.346/.475 slash line with 267 home runs. 

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Cubs pursued Napoli last winter, though the 38-year-old wanted to take a short break from baseball before jumping into coaching. He'll join a Cubs coaching staff that is almost finalized, with the exception of one vacant base coach spot. Here's what the group looks like right now:

Manager — David Ross
Bench coach — Andy Green
Pitching coach — Tommy Hottovy
Associate pitching coach, catching and strategy coach — Mike Borzello
Hitting coach — Anthony Iapoce
Assistant hitting coach — Terrmel Sledge
Bullpen coach — Chris Young
Base coach — Will Venable
Base coach — open
Quality assurance coach — Mike Napoli

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday the organization hopes to have the coaching staff finalized by the end of the week. With Napoli on board, the Cubs are one step closer to making that goal a reality.

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Fans apologize to Yu Darvish following Astros cheating allegations

Fans apologize to Yu Darvish following Astros cheating allegations

When the Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish at the 2017 trade deadline, he was expected to be one of the final pieces to their championship puzzle.

After a solid nine-start regular season with Los Angeles, Darvish was stellar early in the postseason. In two starts (one in the NLDS, one in the NLCS), he allowed two runs across 11.1 innings, racking up 14 strikeouts compared to a single walk.

Things went downhill for Darvish in the World Series, where he surrendered nine runs in 3.1 innings across two starts. This includes Game 7, when he threw 47 pitches in 1.2 innings, allowing five runs in a 5-1 series-clinching win for the Astros.

Darvish became a scapegoat for the Dodgers' World Series loss and faced heavy backlash from fans. Consequentially, he had concerns about re-signing with the Dodgers when he became a free agent that offseason, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, due to fears of how the city's anger towards him would affect his family.

Two years later, fans are now apologizing for directing their anger at Darvish for his World Series performance. Why?

Tuesday, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported the Astros stole opposing teams' signs electronically during the 2017 season. This conflicts with the notion of Darvish tipping his pitches in the World Series, which an anonymous Astros player told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci was the case.

The notion of Darvish tipping his pitches is now in question altogether:

As has often been the case this offseason, Darvish had a brilliant reaction to the whole situation on Twitter:

Darvish joined the Cubs in 2018 on a six-year deal. After an injury-riddled debut season with the Cubs, he took off post-All-Star break in 2019 and is expected to be the team's Opening Day starter in 2020. Although what happened in 2017 can't be changed, it's nice to see he's moved forward.

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