The Rundown: Cubs Win 6th Straight, Less Playing Time for Soler? Lester’s Next Start Bumped Up to Friday

The Cubs absolutely pummeled the Pirates last night.

OK, so it was only a 5-0 win, but it sure felt like a pummeling after all of the close games this season. Every phase was locked in: the offense pounded out 14 hits and worked five walks (although did strike out 14 times, yikes). Jake Arrieta pitched seven strong innings, with Tommy Hunter and Justin Grimm closing the door.

Starlin Castro even had himself a really nice game.

An all-around great win against a very good team to push the Cubs’ winning streak to six. Let’s do it again today, yes? Dan Haren makes his debut on the hill against LHP Jeff Locke.

The Cardinals also lost last night, so the Cubs now trail the Pirates by three games and the Cardinals by 8.5 games.

Who will be odd man out when Montero comes back?

One guy who had a nice performance last night was Jorge Soler, who had two walks (one with the bases loaded) and a smashed RBI single.

However, once catcher Miguel Montero returns to the Cubs — likely later this week — could we see Soler’s playing time diminished somewhat? Patrick Mooney writes that it could be a possibility.

With Montero coming back, the Cubs will need to find a way to get Kyle Schwarber into the game in any way possible. That may mean putting Schwarber in left field and shifting Chris Coghlan to right.

Soler has actually had a bit of a disappointing season at the plate so far. He’s hitting .262/.319/.381 — not exactly the on-base and power numbers you’d like to see. And to say his defense is bad might be an understatement.

But the upside is definitely there and I believe Soler has the ability to go on a tear at any moment.

It should be interesting to see how Joe Maddon handles his lineups down the stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does a lot of shuffling over the next month, in an attempt to keep players fresh.

Other notes

* Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch on the elbow last night. Sure didn’t look like it felt very good as he tried to squeeze his left hand, but Bryant stayed in the game. It has been a rough past few games for Bryant after being shaken up by a tag to the head while sliding into second base on Sunday.

* After throwing only 30-something pitches in Monday’s postponed game, Jon Lester will have his next start bumped up to Friday. Kyle Hendricks will now pitch on Saturday.

* Javier Baez hit his 11th home run at Triple-A last night, a two-run shot. It was his only hit in five at-bats, but he had zero strikeouts.

* Cubs prospect Erick Leal pitched nine no-hit innings last night for South Bend. Unfortunately, he received zero run support and couldn’t complete the game as it headed to extra innings. South Bend ended up losing 1-0 in 12 innings. Leal came over to the Cubs from the Diamondbacks in the trade for the great Tony Campana.

* LHP Tsuyoshi Wada was activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Iowa. He will continue to provide starting pitching depth, and we’ll probably only see him back in the rotation this year if there’s an injury.

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