Listen, from the very beginning we knew this wasn’t a great matchup for the Cubs.
The White Sox are not only one of the toughest offenses in the league, they are the second best offense in baseball against left-handed pitching and not by a little (slash line against LHP before tonight): .282/.357/.527 (141 wRC+). Worse, they had already lit Jon Lester up earlier this year. Sure, I also thought Kris Bryant’s grand slam was going to do it and the Cubs were going to win the division on their own, but it didn’t happen that way. The Cardinals still lost and the Cubs are still NL Central champs. It’s not as fun as it could have been, but what about 2020 is?
As for Lester, in particular, I’m not worried. Not only was this is a horrible matchup for him (arguably the worst matchup for him in MLB), he also got NO HELP from his defense tonight *and* is coming off three straight solid starts in a row. In terms of his spot in the playoff rotation, I’m not worried – at least, not any more worried than I was before tonight.
And, hey, there are actually plenty of positives to take away from this game. Not only did Kris Bryant return to the lineup unexpectedly, he returned in a big way with that massive grand slam plus another single. Hell, he nearly doubled his season-RBI total tonight (which … that’s actually kinda sad, but whatever).
Beyond that, Ian Happ hit the ball hard twice tonight, including a 107.3 MPH single and a 103 MPH groundout that came with a .610 xBA. He was also hit by a pitch, so it was generally a good signal type of night from the Cubs leadoff man. And Craig Kimbrel had a great outing (again), hitting 99 MPH, striking out two, and ending the inning on a foul pop-out to first. He’s ready for October.
Again, the story from this one is probably the defense as much as it was anything else, but let it slide off you, my friends. For the first time since 2017, the Chicago Cubs are champions of the NL Central and if you don’t think that means anything, imagine how the Cardinals or Brewers would act had if they had won. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Brag about it.
The Cubs lost the battle tonight, but they’ve won the regular season war.
Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami