Maddon says Baez is processing MVP talk properly

Javier Baez has heard the "MVP" chants this season, and his MVP chance is very real as the regular season ends this weekend.

Baez figures to battle it out with Milwaukee's Christian Yelich, who is making a late hard charge. Although Baez has been humble about the MVP talk, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he's certain Baez has heard it and that his head is in the right place.

"I would say that it's got to be there somewhere because he hears about it all the time," Maddon said Thursday. "But he is really good about being in the moment. He's done a nice job of staying focused and centered. But it's probably difficult to not be thinking about that somehow. But I also believe that 99 percent of this thoughts are about winning the division right now.

"Winning the division I think, is more important to him than winning an MVP award. Just go do your job. Going back to process, just go play like you play and let that stuff take care of itself. I'm seeing a really mature baseball player as he physically plays the game and mentally how goes about it, it's been very mature to watch."

Baez entered Thursday with a line of .293/.327/.562 with 34 homers and 111 RBI. His wins above replacement (WAR) was at 5.4. The Brewers were off Thursday. Yelich is at .321/.395/.583 with 33 homers, 104 RBI and a WAR of 6.9.

Cards coming to town:

The Cubs will host a desperate St. Louis Cardinals team this weekend. The Cardinals (87-72) had Thursday off after being swept by the Brewers in St. Louis. Their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

"It's not unlike what we've gone through," said Joe Maddon. "We've had to play them in the playoffs. Again, I'm talking about the playoffs begin for us today. I'm certain they're going to feel the same way walking through the door tomorrow. They have other factors that are out of their control, other teams involved. It'll be interesting. There's no question.

"I know they lost the series to Milwaukee, some tough breaks. They're good. They've ascended. Give them credit. They have good pitching. They've done a nice job with that and in their bullpen."

Taking his place in history:

Jon Lester made his 32nd start for the Cubs Thursday night. He has started 32 games in each of his four seasons with the Cubs.

He has reached at least 30 starts for the 11th season in a row. He is the first left-handed pitcher in Cubs history to reach 30 starts in each of his first four seasons with the team. He joins right-handers Bob Buhl (first four years) and Charlie Root (first six years) to do so since 1900.

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