As you may have heard, the Chicago Cubs started the season pretty well. As of the end of May, they were 35-15, playing exactly .700 ball. That projects to a 113-49 record over 162 games, which would be the most wins in a season since the Mariners won 116 in 2001, and the most in the National League since, well, since the Chicago Cubs won 116 in 1906.
But that wasn’t the only notable end-of-May record. The Twins and Braves were both 15-36, on pace for 48-114. The Reds, at 17-35, were on pace for 53-109. The 20-33 Padres projected to 61-101, raising the question of how Padres owner Ron Fowler would describe the Twins, Braves, or Reds. On the other hand, the 32-20 Red Sox were on pace to finish 100-62, the 33-21 Giants were on track for 99-63, the 32-21 Nationals on pace for 98-64, the 31-21 Rangers for 97-65, and the 30-21 Mariners for 95-67. So there were, at the end of May, four teams with a shot at 100 losses and six that could win 100.
As an aside, I am fully cognizant that “on pace for” is intellectually lazy and ignorant, unless it’s wielded cleverly by the likes of Jayson Stark or Cespedes Family Barbecue. (Especially the Cespedes Family Barbecue link. You should check it out. Go ahead, it won’t take long. I’ll still be here.) So no, I’m not implying that there actually will be four teams with 62 or fewer wins and six with 62 or fewer losses. I’m just setting the tone. Play along with me here.
Bethancourt livens up a lousy day, the Cubs lose behind Arrieta, and Mookie gets... three homers.
The Tuesday Takeaway James Shields added another chapter to a sadly long story of soul-crushing outings Tuesday—his fifth career game with 10 or more runs allowed, tying him for the most of any pitcher since 1940, as BP author Aaron Gleeman pointed out on Twitter. The first and second innings began by following the same pattern, with Shields getting two quick outs to start each one before falling apart as he let walks and singles pile up. At the end of the second, though, the pattern broke, as Kyle Seager introduced the first piece of power to the game with a three-run homer, and things only went downhill from there.
Clayton Kershaw is peaking, Pujols hits a sort of a milestone, and the Cubs are slumping, relatively speaking.
The Monday Takeaway
The Warriors are actually bad at basketball, as they take too many jump shots and don’t have a strong enough game in the post. Their once-in-a-lifetime shooter is overrated, and their records mean nothing in the face of grit and Russell Westbrook.
Sometimes, doing the right thing means not taking another agent's client. Sometimes, though, doing the right thing means the opposite.
I just spent three days in Miami with Jeremy Jeffress and ran into several agents I knew. Many of them I quite like. A few I do not. One told me it’s "dumb" to tweet about clients because it makes it that much easier for other agents to "poach" my guys. I agree, but I feel like I am an outlier (or crazy, or both). I mean, I’m public enough that everyone knows my guys, and really I stopped caring in 2010. If guys are going to leave me, then they're going to leave. Twitter will not change that. I am going to promote the hell out of my clients and do right by all of them. I can’t live my life worrying about what other agents do.
Don't forget how great Joe Nathan was. And as he prepares for a comeback, don't forget what he's still working toward.
The last big-league pitch Joe Nathan threw was an 86 mph, 1-2 slider to Torii Hunter on Opening Day of last season. Hunter checked his swing, got rung up by umpire Joe West for a game-ending strikeout, and argued his way into a meaningless ejection (followed by several days of the usual “Joe West is the worst” headlines). Detroit beat Minnesota, Nathan got his 377th career save, and two days later he was placed on the disabled list with an elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery.
It was the second Tommy John surgery and third major arm surgery of Nathan’s career and at age 41 it seemed like the end of the line for the six-time All-Star closer, with a headline-grabbing one-out save against his former team and former teammate serving as a memorable final act. Instead, he rested and rehabbed, and last week Nathan signed a major-league contract with the Cubs that includes a spot on the 60-day disabled list until he’s ready to pitch again. As of now he’s aiming for early July.
Nathan wasn’t great for the Tigers before blowing out his elbow—posting a 4.78 ERA and 55/29 K/BB ratio in 58 innings—but having closely watched his entire Twins career it’s my duty to remind everyone of how great he was for a long time in Minnesota and later in Texas. Nathan at his best was as dominant as nearly any reliever in baseball history, and Nathan was at his best a lot. For instance, here’s a list of the pitchers since 1920 with the most seasons in which they threw at least 50 innings and posted an ERA below 2.00:
The 2010 Giants are back, sort of. Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard continues his takeover of the world, while Joe Kelly flashes great stuff.
The Weekend Takeaway
The ghost of the 2010 Giants was resurrected on Saturday when Matt Cain delivered his first win of 2016. Yes, yes, the baseball-god-defying Giants did lay claim to championship titles in 2012 and 2014, but the last time Cain’s cFIP dipped under 100 in a winning Giants season, he was headlining the rotation with Tim Lincecum and sporting a career-high 6.1 WARP while the club marched to their its World Series in San Francisco.