“The knife cuts in every direction, and the teeth of time…they don’t care.” – J. Geils Band, Tryin’ Not to Think About It
The Cubs lost a tough one to the Mets while the Brewers and Reds both won their games, so there’s not a whole lot to be joyful about this morning. Drew Smyly put the Cubs in a Pete Alonso-sized hole before the game was an hour old and an 11-2 loss was in the books once the rain-soaked evening ended. The North Siders vowed not to pump the brakes after winning consecutive series against the Reds and Braves, but that didn’t appear to be the case Monday night. Chicago looked as displeasing as New York’s weather, but it’s just one loss and there is still a lot of baseball left.
Frankly, I would have liked to see the Cubs start their series against the Metropolitans exhibiting the same killer instinct we saw in the Cincinnati and Atlanta series. Smyly isn’t inspiring a whole lot of confidence these days and isn’t one who tends to get fired up on the mound. Judging by his mound demeanor alone, he looked like a guy who was resigned to losing as he warmed up.
David Ross is going to give the veteran lefty the benefit of the doubt, but I’d rather see Caleb Kilian or Javier Assad take his spot in the rotation, at least for now. If Ross has the stones to bench Seiya Suzuki, surely he sees that starting behind the eight ball each time Smyly takes the mound is problematic. The Cubs have been one of baseball’s hottest teams in the second half, but Smyly has allowed 45 runs in 52.2 innings of work (7.69 ERA) in since June 1, effectively dumping cold water on Chicago’s momentum each time he takes the bump.
Mind you, Smyly is that bad despite having one of the game’s best defenses playing behind him. I’d like to root for the 34-year-old, but I’d rather Ross move on to Assad or Kilian.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs are standing behind Smyly despite his extended funk.
- Cody Bellinger is the team’s best offensive player and could be looking at a $150 million deal after the season if he continues at his current pace.
- The Cubs are now projected to win 84 games according to FanGraphs.
- Chicago’s recent surge up the standings has been fueled by a nearly unstoppable offense.
- The Cubs still need to take advantage of their upcoming schedule to seize control of the NL Central.
- A poor outing by Smyly and last night’s two-hour rain delay added more stress to Chicago’s already-fatigued bullpen.
- Marcus Stroman is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tonight in New York. Stroman said he received a cortisone shot last Wednesday to treat the injury and remains on track for a minimum IL stint.
- Jeimer Candelario is embracing his transition to part-time first baseman.
- Candelario “has been a seamless fit” since joining the Cubs.
- Ross explained his decision to bench Suzuki while he works through his swing issues.
- Suzuki continues to rework his approach in an attempt to regain his starting gig in right field.
Odds & Sods
The Orioles reached 70 wins on Sunday and are young, fun, and arguably the best story in baseball. Owner John Angelos indefinitely suspended (read: fired) ($) announcer Kevin Brown a few weeks ago because he thought the facts Brown presented were disparaging to the team. It’s nice to see Baltimore winning after more than a decade of tanking and top-five draft picks, but Angelos can’t rewrite history and Brown was dismissed for stating nothing but facts while following the graphics he was given.
Orioles broadcaster Kevin Brown has been suspended indefinitely for making these comments about the Orioles' record against the Rays pic.twitter.com/uoSnReAI7S
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) August 7, 2023
- Milwaukee (61-53): The Brewers traded outfielder Tyler Naquin, who was not on the team’s 40-man roster, to the White Sox.
- Cincinnati (60-55): Starter Luke Weaver is running out of chances to stay in the Reds rotation.
- Pittsburgh (51-61): The Pirates roughed up Atlanta ace Spencer Strider in an unlikely win over the Braves.
- St. Louis (49-64): Randy Arozarena thanked the Cardinals for drafting him and subsequently trading him to the Rays.
Climbing the Ladder
“Things seemed so perfect, you know, The days were endless, we were crazy, we were young; the sun was always shinin’. We just lived for fun.” – Queen, These Are the Days of Our Lives
Bellinger had Chicago’s two RBI last night and has plated 19 runners in his last 19 games. Bellinger, Dansby Swanson, and Ian Happ have combined for 20 home runs since the All-Star break. Chicago’s hitters are also seeing an average of 4.05 pitches per at-bat, the best in baseball. That was the key to success in 2016 if you remember. They’re pushing starters out of the game faster and grinding into opposing bullpens.
- Games Played: 113
- Record: 58-55 (.513)
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,355
- Total Strikeouts: 1,018
- Strikeout Rate: 23.38%
- Team Batting Average: .257
- Runs Scored: 576
- Runs Allowed: 510
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 68.2%, 5.2% to win the World Series
How About That!
Though the MLB trade deadline has passed, there are still a couple of ways that teams can acquire players.
The league issued disciplinary action against the White Sox and Guardians for their weekend melee. Tim Anderson was suspended for six games, but José Ramírez, who cold-cocked Anderson, drew only a three-game hiatus. Cleveland pitcher Emmanuel Clase also got a one-game ban. Additionally, managers Terry Francona and Pedro Grifol earned one-game vacations.
Warner Brothers/Discovery plans to debut its long-awaited sports tier for MAX with the start of October’s MLB playoffs, according to industry sources.
The Yankees DFA’d Deivi García and also placed Carlos Rodón on the 15-Day IL. New York also reinstated Jonathan Loáisiga from the 60-day injured list — hence the need for a 40-man spot — and recalled lefty Nick Ramirez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Baseball America offered 20 rules changes to save baseball in an issue from 1993, and a lot of the hot-button issues will seem familiar (free access content).
Monday’s Three Stars
- Freddy Peralta – The Rockies will cure any losing streak, but Peralta was masterful for the Brewers in a 12-1 win last night. The righty fired seven innings of one-run, one-hit baseball with 13 strikeouts. Peralta didn’t walk a single batter.
- Alonso – The “Polar Bear” plated New York’s first five runs thanks to two towering home runs, leading the Mets to an easy victory over the Cubs.
- Pablo Reyes – A 3-for-4 night with a stolen base, home run, and four RBI is worth noting, but the Red Sox shortstop walked it off with a two-out grand slam to drop the Royals 6-2.
Thank you, Mr. Swanson. Now let’s get back to playing the type of game you’re talking about.
Swanson has spoken pic.twitter.com/W6kB2mG4c5
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 7, 2023
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
Bouncing off yesterday’s walk-up song by CCR, let’s take a deep dive into some great, often overlooked songs.
- Crazy Mama by The Rolling Stones
- I Know a Little by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Nightwatchman by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
- Hold Onto Freedom by Lee Michaels
- Bad ‘n’ Ruin by Faces
- Keep On Keepin’ On by The Allman Brothers Band
They Said It
- “[Alonso] is a bad matchup [for Smyly]. You’ve gotta get the guys out in front of him. We can’t walk Francisco Álvarez. He probably regrets that. Francisco Lindor, a couple of singles. He did a nice job behind him, just a couple of big swings there. You know it’s a tough matchup going in and you have to manage the lineup around him.” – Ross
- “I just have to keep the ball in the park. Would I like to pitch better? Yeah, I go out there expecting to pitch well every day. It just hasn’t happened recently.” – Smyly
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
One loss and a poor effort by Smyly won’t get me down.