The Rundown: Road Trip Mercifully Ends, Darvish Flashes Ace Stuff, Kimbrel to Pitch in Iowa Tuesday
I’m not one for moral victories and I did expect the Cubs to win more than one game in Los Angeles, but at least they proved they can match the Dodgers’ starting rotation and that during crunch time they are perfectly capable of beating closer Kenley Jansen. In fact, despite last night’s 3-2 loss, a game which Chicago should have won in the 9th inning, Jansen no longer represents an automatic save when he enters the game. I’d like to see the Cubs really attack him if the two teams meet in this year’s playoffs.
Plus, we have finally witnessed Yu Darvish meeting and exceeding the expectations attached to his contract. He was a joy to watch on Saturday night, his seventh straight decent outing. I’d have to say his mental skills conditioning has gone swimmingly, and it reflects in the right-hander’s recent performances.
Yu Darvish's 10Ks in 22 Seconds. pic.twitter.com/cpTJnrzaLc
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 16, 2019
Darvish’s command and confidence arrives at a time when the Cubs will need more from him. Kyle Hendricks is on the shelf with a shoulder ailment and any prolonged absence could force the Cubs to seek another starter before the trade deadline. Unless, of course, Joe Maddon and the front office feel confident enough in Tyler Chatwood to handle a starting role.
The team has a viable rotation option pitching at Iowa in Adbert Alzolay as well.
The likelihood exists that the Cubs and Dodgers could meet in the NLCS for the fourth time in five years, and the Cubs have every reason to believe that they belong on that stage this October.
Cubs News & Notes
- Ben Zobrist could return to the team this season, per Patrick Mooney of The Athletic ($).
- Craig Kimbrel will make his first appearance at Iowa on Tuesday. He should need just a week or a little more to be ready to join the Cubs if everything goes as expected.
- Darvish was a big-game pitcher on Saturday night. He certainly exorcised some Chavez Ravine demons.
- The Cubs should feel quite confident they can beat Jansen in any situation. I can’t help but think they actually would have had a big inning had Albert Almora Jr. not been thrown out at home.
- Both the Cubs and the Dodgers have been considered among the elite in the National League over the past few years, but Los Angeles has taken things to another level, winning back-to-back NL pennants as well as six straight NL West titles.
- The Cubs and the White Sox meet this week at Wrigley Field, so the Chicago Tribune has provided the obligatory greatest “hits” version of the city rivalry.
How About That!
The White Sox recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of Steve Dahl’s disco demolition night. I was at that doubleheader vs. the Tigers for my sister’s birthday. Yes, she’s a Sox fan, and yes, as a baseball fan I was horrified, though Dahl was my favorite Chicago radio personality at the time.
Would the Nationals consider trading ace starter Max Scherzer? The team still believes they can contend for the NL East championship, so that seems somewhat unlikely. Scherzer would be a difference maker for a number of contending teams ($).
The Brewers bullpen is the strength of the team, as expected, and has carried Milwaukee to first place in the NL Central.
The Rockies and Padres combined for an incredible 92 runs in their weekend series at Coors Field. Charlie Blackmon had an absurd 15 hits in the series, the most in a four-game series in the modern baseball era.
The backstory to the David Ortiz shooting gets more and more bizarre with each passing day.
Dominican Republic police have now indicted nine suspects involved in last week’s shooting — including the alleged gunman, Rolfi Ferreira-Cruz — while a 10th suspect has turned himself in for the botched hit on Ortiz.
The Yankees acquired first baseman Edwin Encarnación from the Mariners and intend to deploy him as their everyday DH. Outfielder Clint Frazier was sent to Triple-A to make room for the slugger on New York’s 25-man roster.
Frazier may be used as an asset for the Yankees to acquire Trevor Bauer from the Indians. Cleveland originally drafted Frazier.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Matt Adams – The slugging super-sub had two home runs and seven RBI, including a grand slam, with his son in the ballpark as the Nationals whipped the Diamondbacks 15-4.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. – The sophomore center fielder was 4-for-5 with a home run and two RBI as the Braves destroyed the Phillies 15-1. It was Acuña’s 16th tater of the season.
- Trevor Bauer – The Indians hurler was magnificent yesterday, shutting out the Tigers with eight strikeouts, pitching a complete game. Bauer did not walk a single batter while scattering four hits.
Whether you are a dad or a son or daughter, I hope you genuinely enjoyed Father’s Day yesterday. I had a great weekend with my stepdaughter Eleanor, who flew in from New York to celebrate with her grandfather and I.
Here's to the all the "@KerryWood's last strikeout" kind of feels this #FathersDay
Have a very happy one. pic.twitter.com/lePDf90vtB
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) June 16, 2019
They Said It
- “I’ve always said, ‘A mind once stretched has a difficult time going back to its original form.’ This situation with [Darvish]— back to Dodger Stadium, bad moment that had happened in the past in his career — all of a sudden he’s able to put that in the rearview mirror. When he really believes in himself — and he has confidence in himself — he is one of the best pitchers in baseball.” – Joe Maddon
- “A little bit concerned, but not overly, just because I feel like I’d be able to tell if something was majorly wrong.” – Kyle Hendricks
- “We blew up disco records, made fun of the Bee Gees and ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ It goes no deeper than that. Perception is not always reality. Especially when that perception uses the prism of today to look at events 40 years ago. Sometimes a stupid radio promotion is just a stupid radio promotion.” – Steve Dahl
Monday Walk Up Song
Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In by The Fifth Dimension. Nice to see the Darvish awakening. Long past due.