The Rundown: Best to Forget Marlins Series, Offensive Struggles Continue, Alzolay Returns Tonight, Sticky Substance Crackdown Starts Today
“One time a thing occurred to me – what’s real and what’s for sale?” – Stone Temple Pilots, Vasoline
Rather than talk much about the weekend series with Miami, I’d like to ask Cubs fans to stop overreacting to wins and losses. You can’t say they’re World Series bound one week and then say Jed Hoyer needs to blow the whole thing up after a couple of lopsided losses to the Marlins. Whether the score is 11-1 or 2-1, a loss is just one poor outcome in a season that we all know lasts 162 games.
You may not believe it, but the Cubs are much better than they showed this weekend. Teams fall into slumps and the core of this roster has been incredibly streaky for about five years, so sometimes all that’s needed is a little repair work on the bilge to stop taking in water. Chicago’s fans are more reactionary and emotional than most and come September no one should be pointing to Friday’s and Saturday’s games as the critical point of the season. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.
Local writers aren’t helping much, particularly Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, who thinks the Cubs need to trade at least one of Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Willson Contreras, Craig Kimbrel, or Anthony Rizzo in the coming weeks. I’m not as experienced a writer as Sullivan, but if you trade one, you may as well trade the lot of them. Offing one of the core players makes little sense unless the return fills multiple needs on the current roster. What is the point of trading Contreras, for example, and then letting the other four leave in free agency?
His name is Javier Báez. #CubTogether https://t.co/iq0lKgoH7i pic.twitter.com/Rt2f7hk9D5
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 20, 2021
What David Ross really needs is a little help. Nico Hoerner will be a big shot in the arm once he returns. The Cubs are 12-9 while he’s in the lineup. On the other hand, they’re playing just .438 baseball in games when Eric Sogard has three or more at-bats. Matt Duffy is sorely missed as well, and though Patrick Wisdom has done a heck of a job filling in, he offers the same skillset as most of the starters. The third baseman hits a home run once every eight plate appearances, but he’s also struck out 34.2% of the time.
Ross also needs at least two capable starters, though Adbert Alzolay returns today. I don’t mean to be didactic or disparaging in any way, but had Alzolay started instead of Zach Davies on Saturday, the Cubs probably wouldn’t have lost 10-2. Ross intimated recently that this team desperately needs rotation help, and perhaps Hoyer has his eyes on Kyle Gibson or Max Scherzer. Fill-in starter Alec Mills was big in yesterday’s 2-0 win, but he’s not the answer.
Still, it’s best to just leave that ugly Miami series in the past and move forward. The good news is that despite the wretched results, the Cubs are still tied for first with the Brewers with identical 40-32 records and the two teams will meet again as part of Chicago’s next road trip. The 10-game excursion also includes series with the Dodgers and Reds after the two-game set against Cleveland that starts today. The schedule lightens up a great deal after, so I would expect the Cubs to still be in buying mode as the trade deadline approaches.
Cubs News & Notes
- Kimbrel notched his 20th save of the season yesterday and moved into a tie for 9th place on the all-time saves list with 368.
- Trading Kimbrel while attempting to maintain a path to the postseason is an impossible needle to thread.
- Ross said he hopes his closer is not moved ahead of the trade deadline.
- Ryan Tepera has been a beast of late and padded his scoreless streak to 20.1 innings, second-best in baseball to Jacob deGrom (25.0).
- The combination of Tepera, Kimbrel, and Andrew Chafin haven’t allowed an earned run over their last 48 appearances (one unearned run), dating back to May 8.
- Alzolay gets the start tonight against Cleveland, his first since June 7 due to a blister on his pitching hand. Despite missing two weeks, Alzolay is second on the team in strikeouts with 62. His 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings is second to Trevor Williams among Cubs starters.
Odds & Sods
I can’t even imagine what the crowd was like.
Island Park, Wichita, KS, June 21, 1925 – In a match up that is hard to believe ever took place, the Negro League Wichita Monrovians beat a local Ku Klux Klan team and hate in a thriller 10-8.
READ MORE HERE –>https://t.co/zMDg1NYbTw pic.twitter.com/Ujnk5gC43z
— Old-Time Baseball Photos (@OTBaseballPhoto) June 19, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“They might have split up or they might have capsized; they may have broke deep and took water.” – Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
The Cubs managed just 11 hits in the three games against the Marlins.
- Games Played: 72
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,628
- Total Strikeouts: 678
- Strikeout Rate: 25.8%
- Team Batting Average: .226
The Cubs are trending downward quickly of late, batting just .182 for the month. That’s not solely based on the fact that teams are pitching around Bryant, but the opposition has really silenced Chicago’s sticks over the last three weeks.
How About That!
The Rays intend to promote consensus top MLB prospect Wander Franco for tomorrow’s game against the Red Sox.
A seven-game winning streak has pushed the Astros to the top of this week’s power rankings.
Braves fans want the team to pursue three stud pitchers in the trade market, including Kimbrel.
White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel didn’t exactly exact the revenge he was hoping for in his start against the Astros yesterday.
The Astros whooped some butt in their four-game sweep of the ChiSox.
Despite the sweep, GM Rick Hahn said he expects to be a buyer in the next six weeks. The White Sox have had more than their fair share of injuries this season but still remain second in the AL in run differential.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
A young Cincinnati fan attending her first game on Saturday night was driven to tears when her favorite player, Joey Votto, was tossed in the 1st inning for arguing balls and strikes. The Reds first baseman made sure to get her an autographed baseball as a very welcome consolation prize.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Kyle Schwarber – The ex-Cub hit three bombs and had four RBI in the Nationals’ 5-2 win over the Mets. Schwarber has 18 home runs and 42 RBI on the season.
- Wilmer Flores – The Giants third baseman had a 4-for-4 day that included three runs, two taters of his own, and two RBI.
- Brandon Crawford – He’s never mentioned when people talk about pending free agent shortstops, but he’s led San Francisco offensively all season. Yesterday he was 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI, giving the 34-year-old 16 home runs and 48 RBI. His career highs are 21 and 84, respectively.
Safe at Home
It is my sincerest wish that those readers who live in the Woodridge/Lemont area are safe after that devastating overnight tornado.
Rob Manfred is deploying his sticky substance police starting with today’s games.
Sticky stuff 101: Everything you need to know as MLB's foreign-substance crackdown begins https://t.co/IbpKNxuwDe
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) June 21, 2021
They Said It
- “I don’t really care how we score runs. It’s that we win games and that we do score. At times you’re going to go through moments when you hit home runs. … Just got to move the baseball around, make a little more contact.” – David Ross
- “You look at it two ways, right? You either shorten the game from the starters that go deep in the games, or you shorten the games from the back end. Last year we shortened the game because our starters would carry us. Now we’re kind of doing the opposite. [Kimbrel] is a huge part of our success, no question. Not only what he’s done on the field, but how he’s impacting the rest of those guys out there as well.” – Tommy Hottovy
Monday Walk-Up Song
The Distance by Cake – I have no problem with the Cubs buying at this deadline but within reason. Hoyer shouldn’t deplete his farm system just to get a starter or two, but nobody is trading top prospects anymore, so the market should dictate that high-ceiling, low-level prospects are the most likely barter.