Cubs

Pacers' George erupts against vaunted Bulls defense

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Pacers' George erupts against vaunted Bulls defense

When the Bulls played the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs two years ago, a then-rookie Paul George was best known as a defender, as Indiana used his combination of size, length and quickness to harass Derrick Rose.
Fast forward to the present and the 6-foot-8 swingman, with injured Pacers star Danny Granger out of the lineup, has developed into a formidable, if inconsistent, offensive weapon. George scored 34 points against the Bulls on efficient 14-of-25 shooting Tuesday night at the United Center. More significantly, he scored the bulk of those points, almost half of the Pacers 80 points on the evening, with one of the leagues best wing defenders, Luol Denga second-team NBA All-Defensive Team selection last seasondraped all over him. It was a defensive battle on both ends. Both defenses were going, both offenses were struggling. David and George, theyre our money guys lately. Both had off nights, but Paul George picked up the slack, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said afterwards.  The kid cares, the kid works, as evidenced by getting off a red-eye flight and going right to the gym for two hours of shooting. I tried to get him involved early, which I hadnt done well enough in recent games and when a guy makes a couple shots early, sometimes he gets going. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, known as a defensive guru, seemed almost offended that an individual player not named LeBron James could have that kind of night against his team.
Got to make it harder on him. Got to make it harder. He made some tough ones, but weve also got to recognize whats going on in the game. If hes taking contested twos, were defending them well, you tip your hat. That was the case on some of the shots, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards. We also have to have more awareness. Clock winding down, hes got a hot hand, we cant give him space, cant let him catch the ball. Those are things weve got to take care of. Nate Robinson added: Hes going to be a hell of a player in this league. He can score the ball, thats what he does best. He makes tough shots and he made a lot of tough baskets with hands in the faces, so it was good defense, but better offense.

Carlos Zambrano gets four clean outs in Chicago Dogs debut

Carlos Zambrano gets four clean outs in Chicago Dogs debut

Carlos Zambrano hasn't pitched in the majors since 2012 (and the minors since 2013), but he is back pitching in Chicagoland.

The former Cubs ace made his debut with the Chicago Dogs of the American Association on Saturday. Zambrano didn't register any strikeouts, but retired all four batters he faced.

The 37-year-old got three groundouts and a flyout in 13 pitches.

The Dogs play at Impact Field in Rosemont and the day before Zambrano's debut they set a world record for the most wieners in one location. So this is a bit different than the major leagues.

The key to Lucas Giolito's success

The key to Lucas Giolito's success

Lucas Giolito has looked like a different pitcher this season, particularly over his last five starts, where he has posted a miniscule 1.67 ERA in 27 innings, striking out 32 and walking only 9. But even if you take his entire 2019 body of work into account, he has been so much better through eight starts than he was in 2018.

Of 109 pitchers who entered Sunday with at least 40 innings pitched, 24 of them are averaging 10 or more strikeouts per 9 innings, and Giolito is one of them, at 10.47. Giolito finished 2018 with 6.5 strikeouts per 9 innings, which is far from ideal. Going by strikeout percentage, he’s way up from 16.1 percent to 28.6 percent.

Comparing his first eight starts of the season in 2018 and 2019, the difference is staggering.

Lucas Giolito – first eight starts of season

  2018 2019
ERA 6.91 3.35
IP 41.2 43
Hits 37 32
K/BB 23/32 50/18
HR 4 3

Maybe the ERA stands out most to you, but to me, the strikeouts are much more critical.

But why? How is he doing it? The answer certainly seems to be the changeup.

Lucas Giolito first seven starts of 2018 and 2019.

Strikeouts by pitch type (pitch type data from Statcast)

  2018 2019
4-seam fastball 11 17
CHANGEUP 0 16
Curve 2 1
Slider 8 12

Giolito over his first seven starts of 2019 recorded 16 strikeouts on his changeup, whereas he didn’t record any strikeouts through seven starts last season. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you have watched him work this season. That pitch is nasty and hopefully it continues to be a weapon going forward.

 

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