Bad news: the Cubs don’t play today. But there’s good news: we won’t have to go without Cubs baseball again until May 18.
With last night’s 8-1 loss to the Pirates, the Cubs finished with a 12-8 record in the month of April. Wednesday’s game was an all-around clunker, but that’s going to happen. Before the season began, if you told me the Cubs would go 12-8 in the first month, I’d have been very pleased.
Last night’s loss was one of the only games all year that seemed out of reach. And the Cubs were able to “Meatloaf” the Pirates in the series. (Meaning they took two out of three, as Joe Maddon explained last night — hilarious.) Meatloafing other teams on a consistent basis is definitely a good thing.
Addison Russell had the night off, which seemed a little curious at first. But it sounds like just a simple day off with no hint of injury. So that’s good.
The loss last night magnified some of the areas this Cubs team is being affected by injury. With Kyle Hendricks not having his best stuff, he was lifted after only five innings.
In came the middle relief, specifically Gonzalez Germen, which couldn’t keep the game close. Germen gave up four runs to blow the game open.
Things could have gone differently with a fully healthy bullpen; luckily it’s sounding like help could be on the way.
RHP Justin Grimm pitched a bullpen session on Tuesday and could pitch a simulated game or extended Spring Training game this weekend, writes Carrie Muskat. Grimm, a key member of the Cubs ‘pen, has been on the disabled list since April 2 with forearm inflammation.
Neil Ramirez, perhaps an even more important piece to the puzzle, is a bit further behind. He has been playing catch but hasn’t pitched off a mound yet, Muskat said.
LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, who has been rehabbing in Triple-A Iowa after suffering a couple leg injuries this spring, threw a bullpen session at Wrigley Field yesterday. He hasn’t been called up yet, but I’m sure he’ll be pitching for the Cubs at some point soon. His last start in Triple-A wasn’t great, so maybe he needs a little more time to work out the kinks.
Infielder Tommy La Stella hasn’t started taking swings yet, but has been able to throw. La Stella has been on the disabled list since April 14 because of an injury to his side. It had originally sounded like the injury was minor, so the fact that he isn’t swinging the bat is discouraging. Probably another factor for why the Cubs decided to bring up Addison Russell so soon.
* You can now vote (on MLB.com or Cubs.com) for your favorite Cubs to make the National League All-Star team. Anthony Rizzo, Tommy La Stella, Starlin Castro, Kris Bryant, Miguel Montero, Chris Coghlan, Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler are on the ballot.
* Cubs top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards gave up two runs in two innings in Double-A Tennessee’s 3-1 loss to Chattanooga. As a reminder, the Cubs are using Edwards out of the bullpen to help preserve his arm after battling injuries all throughout last season. Not much offense in this one: Kyle Schwarber had a double. Newly called-up Jacob Hannemann was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.
* LHP Gerardo Concepcion picked up the save for Myrtle Beach last night, and according to Baseball Prospectus’ CJ Wittmann, Concepcion was hitting 95-96 mph. Very interesting to hear. The now-23-year-old was signed out of Cuba in March 2012, but hasn’t looked like the best move so far. Shortly into his Cubs career, Concepcion came down with a case of mono, which obviously hurt his development. He barely pitched in 2013, and was adequate for Kane County and Daytona last season. If he can come out of the bullpen hitting 96 mph, however, Concepcion could finally be putting the pieces together.
* RHP Jeremy Null pitched well again for the South Bend Cubs yesterday. He went 5.2 scoreless innings with six strikeouts. He’s now sporting a 0.79 ERA.