Morning Cubs Roundup: Baseball is amazing, and some thoughts on the trade deadline
today at 8:58 am
Last Game: Cubs 10, Reds 1
Up Next: Tuesday, Cubs (20-14) @ Pirates (10-21) – 6:10 CST, MARQ
Baseball is amazing. Hundreds of thousands of Major League Baseball games have been played since 1869, and you still get to see things that have never happened before.
All three starting outfielders for the Cubs homered twice Sunday afternoon. Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber combined to go 6-for-13 with 2 BB, 6 HR, 6 R, 10 RBI. Just, wow.
And hey, this came a day after Yu Darvish dropped his glove while delivering a pitch, a strike in fact. I’m sure that has happened before, but I know I’ve never seen it, not at any level. And I’ve watched a few baseball games in my time.
The offensive outburst by the outfielders helped the Cubs to a series to a 2-2 series split with the Reds. The Cubs have the seventh best record and have opened the third largest division lead in the Majors. Their playoff odds are over 95% according to all predictors I have seen.
This isn’t a perfect team. Some further tweaks at the deadline are definitely needed to give them a better shot once they reach the postseason, but it does provide some solace that the Cubs have amassed this record despite none of their big names performing up to previous standards (save Darvish). If just a couple of Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, Schwarber, Contreras, Kimbrel, Hendricks get in a groove I do believe this team can achieve another level. They aren’t going to reach the Dodgers level of talent, but it needs to be pointed out every year, the best team doesn’t always wins the World Series.
Obviously, the outfielders. But we’ve covered that.
Jose Quintana looked pretty good out of the pen again, and it couldn’t be happening at a more critical time. The Cubs have talked about how Q can be viewed as a trade deadline acquisition this year, and in light of Chatwood’s injury on Sunday, they really need Q to be productive down the stretch.
I didn’t have a chance to write on Sunday, but how about that performance by Yu Darvish on Saturday? He continues to amaze, even when he is “off” as he was on Saturday. It was a grind for him, but he still managed six shutout innings when the Cubs truly needed a good performance out of him. Not only has he become the ace of the staff, but the stopper as well.
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
- I’m expecting both Kris Bryant and Steven Souza Jr. to be activated for the upcoming series against the Pirates. They both got work in at South Bend over the weekend and will face more live at bats there during the off day today. With the struggles the Cubs have had against left-handed pitchers the team really needs at least one of those guys to get dialed in by the start of the postseason.
- With the issues against left-handers (and the paltry production out of the DH spot in general), the Cubs made a move over the weekend to acquire Jose Martinez from the Rays. The former Cardinal has been a productive bat over his four-year career, especially against lefties. It is his defense that has always been the issue, but I don’t expect him to see the field much with the Cubs. He’s here to DH against LHP, and if he gets hot, he could earn starts against RHP as well.
- I’m curious who the two PTBNL headed to the Rays will be. It is easy to assume both are players not among the 60-player pool (the only eligible players who can be traded in-season), and that the trade may simply be consummated after the playoffs when the restrictions will be lifted. I do think it is possible someone currently on the 40-man could be a part of the deal down the road though. I’m thinking someone like James Norwood (currently on the 45-day IL) or maybe Dillon Maples. Maybe the Rays would want time to assess the medicals on Norwood, and perhaps they could ask the Cubs to try and run Maples through waivers before agreeing to take him. Both are long shots, I guess, but the Rays have always seemed to get the most out of talented arms and I’m curious what they could do with one of those two. Probably just a pipe dream and the two PTBNL will simply be two prospects from the system and the deal will be completed in the offseason, and maybe even after the Rule 5 draft.
- I feel so bad for Tyler Chatwood. It really felt like he was getting his career as a starter back on track this season before the issues with his back, and now… the elbow. As a guy with a TJS in his past already it doesn’t look good right now. Hopefully he will be able to avoid surgery. It does seem like his Cubs career may be over now. But we’ll see.
- As for additional activity by the Cubs at the trade deadline today, expect a left-handed reliever to be at the top of the wishlist, especially since it looks like Jose Quintana is now required to move back to the rotation. Kyle Ryan did throw a scoreless inning yesterday but he has not been the same reliable reliever he was in 2019. His velo is down and he should not be counted on in high leverage situations down the stretch. Daniel Norris of the Tigers is a name that has floated around, but there will be competition for his services. A former starter who has struggled to stay healthy in the past, he is having a strong season out of the pen in Detroit. And hey, with all the potential openings in the Cubs rotation next season, a guy with the flexibility to potentially compete for one of those jobs next spring could be of extra benefit.