The whole MLB needs to look out because the Chicago Cubs are looking mighty good with the addition of Aroldis Chapman.
It’s been only two games but the Chicago Cubs are looking like geniuses after the Aroldis Chapman trade. The team’s prized acquisition has successfully closed for them in two matches against the White Sox. In their most recent match, Chapman struck out the White Sox’s final four batters to give the Cubs the win.
Go Cubs Go! Aroldis Chapman records a perfect 4-out save to give Cubs a 3-1 victory over White Sox. pic.twitter.com/qs6V5bc4fF
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 29, 2016
John Lackey Outduels Chris Sale
Before we talk about Aroldis Chapman, let’s first touch on John Lackey. No, he didn’t throw any 100 mph fastballs but his performance in the second home game against the White Sox was solid. Aside from giving Melky Cabrera a double that resulted in a Tim Anderson home run, Lackey looked superb on the mound. In fact, the White Sox were unable to get anything going the rest of the game against him. On the other hand, Chris Sale didn’t fare as well for the Sox.
The Cubs got a dominant outing from John Lackey and used their top three relievers to finish off tonight's game. https://t.co/GS84gAsnpk
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 29, 2016
Marking his return to the starting lineup since July 18, Sale didn’t look like the guy who leads the league in wins. He walked three and scattered six hits over the six innings he played. He also got a single in on the sixth but otherwise got outplayed by John Lackey (who played the same number of innings).
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 29, 2016
Aroldis Chapman Is A Beast
Now that we’ve touched on John Lackey, let’s talk about the prized acquisition of the Chicago Cubs this year: Aroldis Chapman. Man, it’s hard to argue against the Chapman acquisition. Remember when I talked about how Chapman would make the most of this opportunity with the Cubs? Well, he’s doing just that. In his debut last night (also against the White Sox), the Cuban bullet threw 13 100 mph fastballs. 13! Do you know how many 100 mph fastballs were thrown by Cubs pitchers since 2008 (prior to Chapman’s arrival)? A paltry 12.
Aroldis Chapman's heat-wave parade on night 2 at Wrigley: 100, 103, 103, 100, 102, 102, 102, 103, 102, 100, 100, 99, 98, 98, 102. En fuego!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 29, 2016
Of course, being able to throw 100 mph fastballs isn’t everything. No wait, it is. There’s just so little time for batters (and even catchers) to react at the speeds he’s throwing. When he’s at the mound, you can always count on two things to happen. Either the batter just stands there as the fastball goes into the catcher’s mitts or he swings wildly and misses. The Chicago Cubs were already formidable with John Lackey. Now, they’re just an unfair match-up for any team in both the National and American League.
The Chicago Cubs Are Contenders
I can’t state this enough now but the Chicago Cubs are definitely one of the teams to beat in the playoffs. Can they get as far as the World Series? Well, that would depend on a lot of factors. One of these would have to be the relative strength and health of their bullpen. If their last two games are any indication then they’re undoubtedly on track to achieve a World Series appearance. It wasn’t just the bullpen that’s become competitive with Chapman’s arrival. The whole team has seemingly looked like they are ready to compete in October.
— ESPN (@espn) July 25, 2016
With that said, don’t think that the Chicago Cubs are assured of a World Series berth just yet. There’s still a lot that could happen from now to October. The most important thing for the team to do now is to pace themselves. After all, they currently have the best record in all of the MLB. I’d expect them to give John Lackey plenty of rest in their upcoming games with perhaps Hector Rondon picking up the slack. Provided Rondon does well (there’s no reason for him not to), then it’s going to be a lot easier for Chapman to then finish.