Jake Arrieta (P/Chicago Cubs) – The Cubs have fought through a rocky season and clinced the National League Central Division title. They’ll play in October, after finishing the regular season with a series against the Reds this weekend.
Arrieta pitched on September 26 in St. Louis. He only saw 3 innings, as he continues to recover from the hamstring injury he suffered earlier this month. During those 3 innings, he allowed 5 runs on 6 hits, including 2 home runs. He walked 1 and struck out 4. The Cubs lost the game 8-7. One of those home runs he gave up was to his good buddy Matt Carpenter, and I’m calling that Arrieta’s $30,000 donation to the Hurricane Harvey victims.
Matt Carpenter hammers a lead-off home run (3rd season/15th career) off Jake Arrieta, his former college teammate.— Chris Tunno (@TunesSTL) September 27, 2017
After the game, Arrieta said his hamstring is still affecting his form but said he’s still “plenty healthy enough to go out there and be really good.” He’s currently scheduled to pitch in the final game of the regular season on October 1 against the Reds.
Jake Arrieta's struggles one of many things amiss as Cubs come up short https://t.co/23UdDmblFr— Chicago Cubs News (@cubsnewsbot) September 28, 2017
Jake Arrieta: "We’re the defending champs. And it’s going to remain that way until somebody takes us down."— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) September 28, 2017
Jake currently has a 3.53 ERA, with a 1.22 WHIP. To follow Jake Arrieta this season, click here.
Matt Carpenter (3B/St. Louis Cardinals) – The Cardinals are currently 3rd in the NL Central, and it’s down to one last loss for them. One more loss means their shot at a wild card berth is gone. Unfortunately, they’ll be facing the Divison-winner Cubs tonight and the Brewers over the weekend. Milwaukee is currently holding the 2nd place spot in the NL and wanting that same WC berth. Both teams are chasing the Rockies, who would get that berth if the season ended right now.
The Cardinals played a final game against the Reds on September 21 before facing the Pirates on the road. They returned to face the Cubs in St. Louis one last time. Carpenter hit 2 home runs in the past 7 days, bringing the total charitable amount raised for Hurricane Harvey victims to $180,000 heading into Thursday night! As previously mentioned, one of those home runs was against Jake Arrieta on September 26.
While Cardinals fans have been on-again-off-again in their loyalty this season, Carpenter leads the MLB in on-base percentage (OBP) for lead-off hitters at .420.
Matt Carpenter leads the MLB in OBP as a leadoff hitter (again) with a .420 OBP— The Cardinal Way (@STL_Cards_nut) September 28, 2017
The most interesting thing about Carpenter this season was pointed out by the SB Nation blog Viva El Birdos, who looked at Carpenter’s ability to outsmart a defensive baseball strategy called the shift. For those who might have stumbled onto this article and have actually stuck around to this point but don’t actually know baseball, here’s the basics:
The shift is when defensive players will purposely shift their positions on the field to cover a player (usually left-handed) who frequently hits the ball to a certain part of the field. In Carpenter’s case, he tends to hit or “pull” the ball to the right side. Defensive players combat that by moving the third baseman to where the shortstop is, the shortstop moves to second, and the second baseman hangs out on the grass between first and second. Most batters will work on hitting the ball to the opposite side of the field, in an effort to exploit a lack of coverage.
How does all of this relate to Carpenter? This season, Carpenter hasn’t tried to hit to the opposite side of the field. Instead, he’s focused on hitting the ball up. He tries to hit the sweet spot between the infielders and outfielders. And it works. At its very best, he gets a home run out of the deal, with a ball that sails over everyone’s heads. But at the very least, he turns a grounder into a fly ball and keeps the outfielders busy. He’s hit a total of 23 home runs so far this year, which is the 2nd most he’s had in a season. In 2015, he totaled 28. Watch him this weekend as he and the rest of the Cards continue their quest for that Wild Card berth!
Carpenter currently has 120 hits, 91 runs, and 69 RBIs, including 23 home runs. He has a .243 AVG. For all the stats during Carpenter's 2017 season, click here.
Andrew Cashner (P/Texas Rangers) – The Rangers won’t be playing in October, but Cashner is scheduled to pitch one more time at home against the A’s on Saturday.
On September 25, Cashner pitched at home against the Astros. He held the Astros through 3, but the 4th inning quickly came unraveled. After hitting Derek Fisher with a pitch, the bases were loaded for the Astros. It was 2-1 Rangers at that point. It suddenly became a comedy of errors with the rest of the inning looking like this:
And that’s how you go from the Rangers leading 2-1 to the Astros leading 8-2 in 5 batters. Cashner allowed a total of 3 runs (all earned) on 6 hits in 3 2⁄3 innings. He walked 2 and struck out 2. The Rangers lost 11-2.
Cashner currently has an ERA of 3.42 and a WHIP of 1.33. For more of Cashner's stats, click here.
Brandon Finnegan (P/Cincinnati Reds) – Finnegan is still out on injury. As the last place team in the NL Central Division, the Reds’ season will come to an end this weekend when they play the Cubs in a final 3-game series.
Finnegan currently has a 4.15 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP in the MLB. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him back next season.
For more on Finnegan's 2017 season, you can go here.