The Rundown: Cubs Surrender to Pirates, Stroman Returns Tonight, Scherzer Hurt, Blue Jays Match Up Well in Soto Trade
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes the blues just get a hold of you.” – Carole King, Sweet Seasons
If you take away anything from the last nine games, it’s that the Cubs are capable of playing well when their rotation, bullpen, and lineup are all clicking. I’ve said previously that this season’s on-field product should be a continuing work in progress with the best baseball to come in the second half. It’s obvious the team is still finding itself, but you don’t have to strain to find the positives in even the most listless of efforts, including last night.
- David Robertson returned from the IL and had two strikeouts in an inning of work.
- Frank Schwindel had another hit and is starting to pull away from flirting with the Mendoza Line.
- Christopher Morel earned a start at third base on the strength of an epic pinch-hit home run the previous night and finished 1-for-3.
- Scott Effross continues to throw a whole lot of strikes.
The Cubs have outscored the Pirates 51-22 this season but have a record of 4-5 against their NL Central rivals after last night’s 3-2 loss at Wrigley Field. On a positive note, Chicago won the series and is 6-3 over their last nine games. David Ross and his youthful charges will start a four-game set with the Diamondbacks this evening before traveling to Cincinnati to play the Reds for four games.
The bigger news is that Marcus Stroman is scheduled to start tonight’s game. Stroman has been sidelined due to COVID-19 and will rejoin a rotation that entered the Pittsburgh series with a 2.45 ERA over its previous seven games. The Pirates managed just three earned runs in the three-game set, all coming off of last night’s starter Drew Smyly.
As has been the case all season, the Cubs’ chances to win decrease dramatically when their bats go silent. Last night’s game was about as quiet as it gets from an offensive standpoint as the Cubs put just three runners in scoring position against Wil Crowe and three relievers. They struck out 11 times and made soft contact about 15 times. Talk about your snoozefest.
Chicago’s North Side baseballers should be well-rested entering today’s game since they basically phoned it in last night. The Cubs took two of three from the Diamondbacks on the back leg of their most recent two-city road trip, and with summer-like weather expected today and tomorrow, perhaps an uptick in offense is coming.
Cubs News & Notes
- Effross may need to change his name to EffWAR.
- Shortstop prospect Ed Howard will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury he suffered last week while trying to avoid a tag at first base.
- If the Cubs are going to continue to be successful, they’re going to need to rely on their starting rotation.
- Ross thinks the recent success of the team’s starters is sustainable.
- Despite a couple of strong starts while filling in for Stroman, Keegan Thompson will probably still be more of a swingman, per Ross.
- Keith Law of The Athletic released his latest 2022 mock draft and he has the Cubs selecting third baseman Cam Collier of Chipola College with the No. 7 overall pick (subscription required).
- Here’s Collier’s scouting report via New Balance Future Stars. After you see his picture, tell me in the comments section which former baseball star you think he looks like.
- Termarr Johnson is the Cubs’ selection in Jonathan Mayo’s latest mock, though the MLB.com prospects writer has Johnson ranked as the third-best talent among this year’s draft-eligible players.
Odds & Sods
There was indeed a time when baseball uniforms were designed similar to prison-issue jumpsuits. They do look good on Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose, though.
Today In 1979: The Philadelphia #Phillies wear their "Saturday Night Special" monochrome burgundy uniforms for the first & last time of the season in a 10-5 loss to the Montreal Expos! #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/wurhlxT07J
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) May 19, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Like a wave bashing into the shore you wash away my dreams.” – Hootie & The Blowfish, Time
The Cubs had five hits last night, one each by five separate players. Schwindel was the only batter to drive a runner home from scoring position. Chicago has 12 stolen bases this year, placing them No. 12 in the National League, and sits in the bottom 20% of the league in six offensive categories, including sacrifice flies, where the team is dead last.
On the plus side, Ian Happ bashed his third home run of the season.
- Games Played: 36
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,322
- Total Strikeouts: 326
- Strikeout Rate: 24.65%
- Team Batting Average: .233
How About That!
I mentioned yesterday that trade talk is beginning to heat up, and there are seven teams who are legitimate sellers at this juncture of the season, including the Cubs.
Before the season started nobody thought the Red Sox would be sellers, yet here we are.
Max Scherzer left his start last night with side discomfort and is scheduled for an MRI. I imagine the Mets have Jed Hoyer on speed dial in case they need Wade Miley.
Miley, Tyler Mahle, and Zack Greinke will likely be the most sought-after rotation pieces this year.
The Blue Jays could be “really motivated” to swing a deal with the Nationals for outfielder Juan Soto.
Twins starter Chris Paddack had Tommy John surgery Wednesday morning and will miss the rest of the season.
Thursday’s Three Stars
There really weren’t any outstanding performances in the bigs yesterday so I’ll name Chicago’s three best players so far this season.
- Thompson – He’s money in any role, but I wish Ross would permanently slot the second-year player in Chicago’s rotation.
- Willson Contreras – It will be a sad day for Cubs fans once he’s traded.
- Effross – Every season the Cubs front office finds a lights-out reliever that answers every time his name is called. Effross is that guy this year.
I’m still bananas for this team from Savannah.
With a Banana Ball World Tour high of 22 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched, @Kyle_Luigs5 has that power🔥 pic.twitter.com/hrInxjkMny
— Savannah Bananas (@TheSavBananas) May 19, 2022
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- The crypto community witnessed the first “crypto bank run” in history when both Terra’s LUNA price and UST crashed, wiping out nearly $39.2 billion in market value within a week. Investors want CEO Do-Kwon arrested.
- Cornerback Jaylon Johnson has generally been regarded as one of the Bears’ standout defensive players. Head coach Matt Eberflus indicated Johnson is more of a “work in progress.”
- Starting next year, the XFL will have all its regular-season games and playoffs air on ESPN and other networks owned by The Walt Disney Company as part of a multi-year agreement.
- Rookie Bears punter Trenton Gill attended the XFL Pro Day as a potential draft choice for the rebranded alternative football league.
- JP Morgan-Chase CEO Jaime Dimon tried to pay himself a $52.6 million bonus as part of his compensation package despite record inflation and an economy teetering on the precipice of a recession. The firm’s investors told Dimon to step back.
- “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” – Robert Frost
They Said It
- “There’s never good timing for an injury like that, but it’s a shame. [Howard] worked so incredibly hard this winter. He got stronger than anyone at our camp this winter. You look at the exit velocities, he brought his strikeout rate down, he was playing his typical good defense. It’s a shame that his season’s going to be cut short. He’ll work really hard. His attitude has been really good, despite the fact that he’s been really bummed out about the injury… think he’ll come back strong.” – Jed Hoyer
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters