Cubs milestones continue to pile up

By Cat Garcia

The milestones that the 2016 Chicago Cubs have been reaching continue to pile on as the final days of the season roll on. Monday evening, for the first time in 80 years, the Cubs reached the 100 wins mark on the back of another brilliant start from pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who has now lowered his ERA to 1.99 on the season.

The mark was a milestone for manager Joe Maddon’s career as well. “Yeah, it’s a big deal,” Maddon said recently of having a 100 win season. “I’ve never had one. They’re not easy to achieve.”

In a surprise ceremony before Sunday’s final regular season game at Wrigley Field, the Cubs honored catcher David Ross and his storied career on the field. Ross, who is set to retire at the end of the season, was joined by his family and teammates, and gave them a spectacular finish to remember, hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Cardinals. It was Ross’s 10th home run of the year. “It was one of the loudest moments I’ve ever heard.” Ross said of the home run. He certainly was not wrong.

Recent bullpen addition Rob Zastryzny will be making his first start of the season on Thursday in the final game of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Maddon said that he would like to stretch Zastryzny out while attempting to begin constructing his postseason roster. Zastryzny has pitched 12.1 innings in his first season in the majors. He currently has a 1.46 ERA as a reliever.

The Cubs are on the road after closing up shop at Wrigley Field until October 7, for game one of the NLDS. They will finish out a four-game set against the Pirates on Thursday before heading to Cincinnati to take on the Reds for the final series of the regular season this weekend at Great American Ballpark. The regular season concludes on Sunday at 2:10 p.m.

On the south side, the waiting for the final act of 2016 has now become inevitable as the White Sox were mathematically eliminated from contention earlier this week.

There is still hope for next season that has shone through the final weeks of this dismal season’s end, though. Starter Carlos Rodon continues to dazzle with his newfound repertoire aiding him immensely. Rodon struck out 11 batters and went eight strong innings, his longest outing of the season, during his start against the Indians this past Sunday at Progressive Field. “I was able to drive the ball today,” Rodon said of the outing. “When I’m going good, that’s the way it is, driving the ball through the zone and attacking hitters. It needs to stay like that.”

Despite the successful win for the White Sox on Sunday, grim news struck those all around Major League Baseball as they learned of the death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. White Sox relief pitcher Dan Jennings was profoundly affected by the news, as Jennings had spent time playing in Miami with Fernandez as part of the Marlins organization. “There were days he was unstoppable, and that’s how you viewed him is invincible. It’s too hard to really put into words what he meant to the game and what he meant to Miami.” Jennings said of the loss.

On a brighter note, U.S. Cellular Field hosted its first ever concert at the ballpark on Saturday as they welcomed Chance the Rapper and friends to the stage for Magnificent Coloring Day. The concert was a great success, seeing surprise appearances from Chicago’s own Kanye West, Common, and comedian Hannibal Buress. Hopefully, this event will have ushered in a new era of entertainment taking place at the ballpark in the coming seasons.

The White Sox have returned from their final road trip of the regular season and are now in the midst of their final homestand of 2016. They will close out the season at U.S. Cellular Field as they continue their series against the Tampa Bay Rays before hosting the Minnesota Twins this weekend to close out a trying 2016 season.

Cat is a Staff Writer for BP Wrigleyville and BP Southside, Baseball Prospectus’ blogs covering Chicago baseball, and a Contributor for Follow her on Twitter: @TheBaseballGirl.

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