One minute, the Cubs are riding high and making the Cardinals look like Clark the Cub, which is to say they beat the pants off them. But no sooner had they moved into a virtual tie atop the division with a Brewers loss than the Cubs promptly went out and laid an egg in their series finale in St. Louis.
And that’s pretty much the way things have gone over the course of the season, particularly the last few weeks. Even though the Cubs are 15-7 since dropping consecutive games to the Indians at Wrigley in late May, they’ve scored more than one run in only a single one of those losses. In fact, their output in a 5-4 loss to the Giants on May 26 represents more scoring than in the other six losses combined.
In those last half-dozen disappointments, the Cubs have scored a total of three runs, one each in the first three of that group. But now they’ve been shut out in the most recent three, which tends to strip a little of the luster off of their other accomplishments. It also has a way of clouding the future, which is naturally murky to begin with.
Trade market unclear
Aside from the one big name we’ve been hearing about for months — we won’t deign to mention him again here, but it rhymes with Danny Dachado — there really isn’t much out there when it comes to available players. That will certainly change as we get nearer to the July 31 deadline and teams fall out of their respective division races, but it’s not just a matter of supply.
While the Cubs have had some obvious needs in the past, there really isn’t a way to trade for consistency or sustained health. You can’t acquire confidence or self esteem for a player to be named later, and even cash considerations can’t buy you better control.
Besides, the answers to all the Cubs’ problems are already on the roster or in the organization, so there’s no impetus to make a move at this point. What that means, though, is that the team is playing a game of chicken with the deadline and waiting to the last moment to see whether they actually need to make a move.
“I don’t think right now we know exactly what we may need,” Hoyer told the media (this is from Patrick Mooney at The Athletic, so a subscription is required) over the weekend in St. Louis. “What we may need on July 31 may be totally different than what we know sitting here right now.
“I do think that right now the answers are here. We have enough depth offensively. We have the right position players. We have pieces internally. Now, that might not be the answer in six weeks. But I think that’s the answer today.”
We looked at a few internal options from a pitching depth perspective, namely Dillon Maples and Duane Underwood Jr., but there are some other possibilities that bear mentioning. Drew Smyly, who was acquired this winter with an eye toward the future, may be far enough along in his Tommy John rehab to help the team down the stretch.
Then there’s Dakota Mekkes, a burly 23-year-old reliever who was recently promoted to AAA Iowa after dominating AA Tennessee just as he has every other stop along his minor league journey. He’s probably not going to factor in the postseason picture, but a continuation of his career trend should see him in Chicago come September.
And it’s not just a matter of what the Cubs might need or have available in the organization, since there are kind of two sides to the coin. Even if the worst happens and a starting pitcher goes down — which isn’t even a huge loss with Mike Montgomery there — it’s not as though there’s an aisle in the supermarket just dedicated to available starters.
Even among those who figure to be there for the pitching picking, the Jays’ JA Happ figures to be the best available. He’s actually the ideal rental pickup, a 35-year-old putting up some career numbers in a walk year, but the cost could be driven up by the number of teams fishing in those waters.
There’s also the possibility that the Mets decide to move some pieces, namely Jacob deGrom, but it’s hard to imagine the Cubs being able to make anything happen there. Rather than get into further speculation on names and options, let’s just bring it back around to the idea that the Cubs may or may not make moves and that those moves may or may not involve pitchers.
Javy HBP on not-funny bone
Javy Baez took a tailing two-seamer right off the point of his elbow and was forced to leave last night’s game in the 3rd inning. He went down immediately and remained seated on the ground in what was obviously a great deal of pain. And as anyone who’s ever banged their funny bone can attest, the numbness that followed was probably just as bad.
The real fear is that such a shot could have broken a bone, but the Cubs didn’t immediately schedule X-rays for Baez. He seems to be feeling pretty positive about it as well.
“I’m fine,” Baez told reporters after the game. “It’s just really sore. It got me really good right on the elbow. I thought the pain was going to go away right away, but it kind of numbed my whole arm and even my ribs. We’ve been icing it. It feels pretty sore, but I know I’m good.”
Regardless of how he’s feeling, don’t expect to see him in the lineup for tonight’s game with LA. Which means he’ll be in the starting lineup, since that’s how these things work.
Top draft picks signed
Rather than work too hard, I’ll just share the info from the Cubs’ press release on their recent draft picks:
The Chicago Cubs today announced they have signed outfielder Brennen Davis, the club’s second round selection (62nd overall), and right-handed pitcher Paul Richan, a second round compensatory selection (78th overall), in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Overall, the Cubs have signed 10 selections from the 2018 Draft to date (including Davis and Richan): outfielder D.J. Artis (seventh round), righthander Riley McCauley (14th round), righthander Carlos Vega (21st round), outfielder Jamie Galazin (22nd round), righthander Blake Whitney (24th round), outfielder Drew Wharton (30th round), infielder Clayton Daniel (31st round) and lefthander Jack Patterson (32nd round).
Davis, 18, batted .444 (28-for-63) with a .593 on-base percentage, .761 slugging mark and 13 stolen bases in 23 games in his senior season at Basha (AZ) High School. The six-foot four-inch, 175-pound Davis hit a combined .426 (43-for-101) with 10 doubles, two triples, four homers and 41 runs scored in 38 games over his final two years of high school.
Richan, 21, struck out 101 batters in 89.2 innings, good for an average of 10.14 strikeouts per 9.0 innings, while walking just 13 in his 2018 junior season at the University of San Diego. In 2017, Richan posted a 3.05 ERA while allowing just 21 walks in 76.2 innings en route to a spot on the All-WCC Honorable Mention Team.
Monday walk-up song
One More Night, Phil Collins – Mike Canter should be back by tomorrow (fingers crossed).