Morning Cubs Roundup: Ending on a high note
today at 7:53 am
Last Game: Cubs 5, Cardinals 1
Up Next: Reds(16-15) @ Cubs (23-17) 7:05 CST
No, it didn’t go as we hoped. The now concluded weekend (and season) series against the second place Cardinals did not end with the Cubs burying their rival in the standings. The Cards even drew a game closer, but in the end, the two teams ended up splitting the season series 5-5. I think if you would have asked any Cubs fan at the beginning of the year (remember how many of you were predicting a 4th place finish behind the Reds?), they would have been fine with that.
The middle three games of this five-game set were ugly, for sure. The offense was abysmal and the pitching staff reeling from the recent injuries to Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana. But this series also offered a glimpse of why the Cubs can still be dangerous come playoff time. The one-two punch of Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks can knock any team out in a three-game series, and can sure put up a strong fight in a five-game series as well. Darvish shut down the Cards in game one and Hendricks did the same last night. Hendricks hasn’t consistently produced like an ace this season, but he has at times, and this was a prime example of what he is still capable of delivering.
On an even more important note, the offense came alive. Sure, it came off a rookie who probably isn’t MLB ready, but with the way the offense has struggled of late, any success is welcome. Their 3-for-12 overall with runners in scoring position may seem modest, but those hits came early in the game and helped the Cubs give Hendricks a cushion.
Kyle Hendricks was his masterful best: Working up-and-down, in-and-out, almost always on the edge of the zone, while changing speeds.
Ian Happ reached base four more times on a double and three walks. The failings from some of the other hitters in the lineup has overshadowed just how terrific Happ has been this season. He is top ten in all of baseball in on-base and slugging percentage. His 1.079 OPS is second behind only Juan Soto.
Their at bats still were not always pretty, but sometimes a little luck (in the case of Javy, can help boost your confidence. With five hits between them, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez both raised their batting averages above .200 for the season. It isn’t much, but maybe it can provide a psychological boost to no longer see that unsightly 1 when they look up at the scoreboard.
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
- Matt Dermody, we hardly knew ya. Added to the 40-man roster for Sunday night’s game, the veteran lefty’s stay on the Cubs 40-man roster lasted no longer than that. He managed to pitch a scoreless inning, an accomplishment given where he started the season (Indy Ball) and when his last MLB appearance was (2017), but it appears the Cubs chose him because they considered him potentially expendable. They needed an arm coming out of Saturday’s disastrous doubleheader, and knew they would potentially have to designate him for assignment and run him back through waivers shortly after as they utilized the final spot on the 40-man roster in a different manner. And that’s exactly what is happening. Still, given his limited action, I think there is a good chance the 30-year old clears so it was a solid move by the front office to save one of the main bullpen arms some wear and tear in a tough series. It didn’t turn out to be very crucial because of the number of innings Hendricks pitched last night, but if he had been knocked out early, the decision could have proved vital.
- Dermody’s 40-man spot has gone to speedster Billy Hamilton. While he is no longer THE fastest player in the game, Hamilton is still among the fastest. His bat has fallen into the unusable category, but his defense in center still holds up fairly well. Don’t expect the Cincinnati Reds version of Hamilton. He’s essentially Terrance Gore at this point. A pinch runner and potential defensive replacement, nothing more. There’s a chance we never even see him in Chicago. Although that may depend on whether Ildemaro Vargas hits when given an opportunity by the Cubs. The team lacks a proven lefty bat off the bench now that Kipnis and Caratini are entrenched as starters against right-handed pitchers. Vargas figures to get some looks in that role, but I don’t expect his leash will be long given his lack of success over several opportunities with the Diamondbacks. If he falters the Cubs may simply have to live without a left-handed pinch hitter (Hamilton’s really doesn’t count) and instead choose to utilize that bench spot for a pinch runner.
Morning Cubs Roundup