Cubs

Hawks fall to Brodeur, Devils in shootout

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Hawks fall to Brodeur, Devils in shootout

NEWARK, N.J. -- Brent Seabrook tied the game with 11:26 remaining in regulation, but Travis Zajac had the shootout winner as the Devils took a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

Andrew Shaw was the Blackhawks' fifth-round shootout selection, and the rookie hit the post on his attempt.

Petr Sykora gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead with his power-play goal, one on which the Devils capitalized on a bad Blackhawks line change. Martin Brodeur stopped 37 of 38 while Corey Crawford stopped 21 of 22 shots.

What To Know: News and Notes From the Upcoming Reds-Cubs Series

What To Know: News and Notes From the Upcoming Reds-Cubs Series

It’s finally Memorial Day Weekend, which is great time to take a moment and reflect on all those who were, when the Cubs were 2-7, adamant about waiting to pass judgement until the holiday weekend. It’s here, and you were right. Congrats to you. Conventional wisdom rules the day, once again. 

The Cincinnati Reds are in town for the final series in this 7-game homestand. The two teams played in Cincinnati a little over a week ago, and the Reds took two of three despite never winning a game by more than two runs. It’ll be Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, and José Quintana on the mound for the Cubs, countered by Anthony DeSclafani, Tyler Mahle, and Tanner Roark for Cincinnati. Here’s what else to look out for: 

Schwarber’s Staying Put

It sounds like the Kyle Schwarber Leadoff Experiment isn’t going anywhere. He’s lead off for the Cubs in each of the last nine games (including Friday), and is hitting .267/.368/.567 with a .935 OPS over that span. He’s hit 2 of his 7 homers and drawn 6 of his 26 walks out of the leadoff spot. While it’s not his first rodeo, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon talked pregame about how the team is more convinced that it’s the right fit now. 

“It’s one of those things where you have to believe it to see it,” he said. “And sometimes there’s folks that have to see it to believe it. I just thought it was the right time. Again, I liked it back then -- I did -- however he did not react to it well in that moment. But if you look at his overall abilities  as they stand right now, for me, that’s the perfect spot for him.” 

Cincinnati’s Record: a Reds Herring?

The Reds enter this weekend’s series as the last-place team in the NL Central, and owners of the 5th-worst record (22-27) in the NL. What’s interesting, though, is that they also have the 2nd-best run differential (+25) in the division, which also happens to be the 4th best in the NL. According to Baseball Reference, their actual record is *five* wins lower than it should actually be. 

“We’re playing a team right now that’s record is not good, but they are really good,” Maddon said. “I have a lot of respect for this group.”

The Reds have had some of the best pitching of any team in baseball through the first 40+ games. Going into the long weekend, they rank:

2nd in FIP (3.47)
3rd in ERA (3.50)
5th in K/BB% (17.6)
7th in WHIP (1.23)
4th in HR/FB (12.4% - especially impressive given how homer heavy Great American Ballpark is.) 

Miscellaneous News and Notes

The Cubs called up James Norwood before Friday’s game. He briefly pitched for the Cubs last season, making 11 appearances to the tune of a 4.09 ERA. This season, over 20 innings in Triple-A Iowa, Norwood is holding batters to a .206 average while posting an impressive K/BB of 22.5%. The corresponding move was optioning Rowan Wick back to Triple-A. There’s also been no update on the status of Ben Zobrist, who remains away from the team on a personal absence. 

NBA moves up start time of free agency to 5 p.m. on June 30

NBA moves up start time of free agency to 5 p.m. on June 30

The NBA has wisely decided to get everyone some additonal shut-eye at the start of free agency.

The league announced Friday that the start of free agency has been moved up six hours to 6 p.m. ET (5 p.m. CT) on June 30. Previously, the the start time was 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1. Teams may begin communicating with free agents and their representatives at 6 p.m. ET on June 29 to schedule free agent meetings.

The league's moratorium rules are still in place, meaning the official season - and the time when players can officially ink contracts - will begin at noon ET on July 6. But the decision to move up the start of the negotiating period will allow more reasonable hours for everyone involved, including players, representatives, NBA front offices and the media covering these meetings.

It doesn't change anything specifically for the Bulls. They, like the other 29 teams, will get an additional day to (legally) set up meetings, and they'll get to meet  with those players at a more reasonable hour instead of camping outside homes or waiting in separate hotel rooms until the clock struck midnight to start these meetings.

It's anyone's guess as to what the Bulls will do in free agency - what they do at No. 7 in the NBA Draft on June 20 could determine that - but odds are they'll be looking for a starter at point guard, a few shooters on the perimeter and a couple veterans to inject some maturity into the Bulls' inexperienced locker room.

Our Mark Schanowski has spent this offseason looking at potential point guard fits in free agency. Check out those Closer Looks below.