Blackhawks

Cubs keeping Rizzo in holding pattern

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Cubs keeping Rizzo in holding pattern

SAN FRANCISCO Perhaps its just the backup quarterback syndrome, but Anthony Rizzo may never again be as popular as he is now.

Of course, Rizzos Q rating would soar if hes everything Cubs executives think he can be a foundation piece for a team thats playing annually in October.

But the 22-year-old first baseman is a blank canvas for Cubs fans and the Chicago media. Its hard to ignore the firestorm his sore right wrist created on Twitter.

Jason McLeod, the head of scouting and player development, described Rizzo as being in the finishing stages at Triple-A Iowa. His arrival is still weeks away, perhaps later this month.

That will mean uprooting Bryan LaHair, who entered Friday leading all National League first basemen in homers (10), and ranking second behind Joey Votto in OPS (.979).

And Alfonso Soriano, who has seven homers in his last 14 games, is anchored in left field, with almost 50 million left on his contract.

The day Rizzo comes here, hes going to play every day, manager Dale Sveum said. So whatever we do, who really knows? We keep beating (that) dead horse every day.

But theres nothing you can do about moving people around until Rizzo gets here. We dont know when thats going to happen. We all know how well hes doing.

The Cubs named Rizzo their minor league player of the month after he hit .326 (31-for-95) with 10 home runs and 23 RBI in 26 games in May.

LaHair has said that he would welcome another big left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup, and insisted that it wouldnt take long to get used to playing in the outfield again.

Those are bridges we have to cross, obviously, when it happens, Sveum said. I think you have to get some preparation out there before you just go out to left field. (But) Sorianos been one of our best hitters, so theres not a whole lot we can do if Rizzo comes here.

Sooner or later, the Cubs are going to have to make room for Rizzo, and see if he can live up to the hype.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: LW Matthew Boldy

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NBC Sports

2019 NHL Draft Profile: LW Matthew Boldy

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Matthew Boldy

Position: Left wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 192 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

"Big winger, great shot, highly skilled. I think what he brings is size, the shot, and he has a deceptively good two-way game."

NHL player comparable: David Pastrnak

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks are likely leaning toward drafting a center or defenseman with the No. 3 overall pick, but Boldy is an intriguing prospect because he’s drawn comparisons to Marian Hossa. And that’s a player the team has missed over the last two seasons.

Boldy is one of the most complete players in this draft class, and already has the size to play in the NHL. He’s a great skater, responsible in his own end, can play in any situation and can really play any style. Boldy might be a year away from making the jump to the pros, but he's going to be a player the you never have to worry about on the left side.

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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.