Cubs

Fantasy Baseball pitcher stock watch - 97

Fantasy Baseball pitcher stock watch - 97

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com Contributor

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Brandon League, RP, Dodgers: It's been a smooth landing in LA, as League has his mechanics back in order and a key role in the bullpen. He's fashioned nine straight scoreless innings - along with 15 strikeouts - and he's become the head of the closer committee since Kenley Jansen (irregular heartbeat) hit the disabled list. Forget the bad ending in Seattle; League can get us those critical handshakes down the stretch.

A.J. Griffin, SP, Athletics: What's not to like here? He's yet to allow more than three runs in any Oakland turn, and he's collecting four strikeouts for every walk. A platoon split hasn't shown up yet, as righties and lefties are both hitting under .200 against Griffin. The deep Oakland pitching depth strikes again. Griffin's next two starts are on the road, not that we're worried about the environments in Seattle and Anaheim.

Zach Britton, SP, Orioles: When he initially hit the scene we thought he'd be more of a pitch-to-contact arm than anything else, so it's encouraging to see 29 strikeouts for Britton over his last 28.2 innings. The 0.94 ERA over that span is obviously unsustainable, but we're not going to sweat his challenging division for the balance of the year. Britton helps himself when the batters do make contact, inducing ground balls a whopping 60 percent of the time.

Tommy Layne, RP, Padres: His checkered minor-league history is a thing of the past, as the Friars have made Layne into an intriguing lefty specialist. The strikeout numbers jump off the page (17 whiffs in 10.1 innings), and he's picked up a win and two saves because he's being used in high-leverage spots. And obviously Petco Park will hide most of his mistakes; at least, they stay in the park.

Sell

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians: The strikeout numbers haven't been bad, but we're still not buying; his high-maintenance mechanics haven't been repeatable for a couple of years, and the wide swings in velocity also have us concerned. And when Jimenez is forced to work in the middle of the zone, he routinely gets pounded; his best stuff isn't swing-and-miss stuff unless it's perfectly located. The Indians will regret the Jimenez trade for the balance of the decade.

Trevor Cahill, SP, Diamondbacks: It's all about the schedule with the sinker-ball specialist - Cahill is trustable on the road (2.91 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) but he hasn't figured out how to manage Arizona's park yet (5.331.58). He's working at home next week (perhaps for two starts) so make sure Cahill isn't in your plans.

Eric Stults, SP, Padres: A 1.93 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over the last month will get your attention, but Stults only has 14 strikeouts over that 32.3 inning sample and he's been fooling the batted-ball gods all summer (.250 BABIP). This Cinderella will turn into a pumpkin any moment. We hear Eric Stoltz will play him in the movie.

Hold

Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants: He's been batting practice for a month, but when you pop the hood and look at the underling numbers, things don't appear so bad. Vogelsong is still recording three strikeouts for every walk, he's been hurt by an unlucky .365 BABIP, and one of the messy turns came in Colorado. Alas, he has to work in Coors early next week, but we'll ride him out after that. Most of the NL West is favorable to a pitcher.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.