After yesterday’s 5-2 win over the Reds, the Cubs are now 5-1 on their homestand to start the second half while playing as well as their talent dictates they should. A streaky team, nobody can beat the North Siders when they’re rolling. Right now they’re on a downright heater.
Yu Darvish is finally pitching like the top-of-rotation starter we all envisioned when he signed late last winter. If he continues to pitch like he has in his last two outings, one can confidently assume the Cubs will make their fifth straight playoff appearance.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 17, 2019
Big Yu was in beast mode yesterday and finally earned his first win at Wrigley Field and I’m sure the Cubs clubhouse staged one helluva party afterward. There’s nothing like making an emphatic statement that serves notice to the rest of the league that you’re finally back. In two starts since the All-Star break, Darvish has 15 strikeouts and has yet to give up a run. He took a no-hitter into the 5th inning in both starts and has allowed just four hits with one walk in those games.
The last time Darvish went back-to-back outings with at least six scoreless innings was April 2014, the season before he had his Tommy John surgery. His final pitch of the day completely dismantled Reds’ slugger Yasiel Puig.
“How ’bout it? Good for him,” Joe Maddon said. “Yu just keeps trending in the right direction. That last out, he pretty much — as they say — emptied the tank and it worked out pretty well.”
The Cubs did some nice things offensively and Kris Bryant stroked his 20th home run of the season to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first, but yesterday was Darvish’s day. The big right-hander has really picked up his fellow starters since Cole Hamels went on the IL. Hamels is ramping up in rehab and should join the rotation in about two weeks if all goes well.
“It’s going to be nice to get the band back together,” Maddon told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers after the game.
Cubs News & Notes
- Darvish said he is “pitching at 120% right now,” which is a nice way of saying he realizes he has some IOUs to honor after a very slow start to his Cubs’ career.
- The team’s quick second-half start has alleviated some of the tension to make a trade or two as well as taking some of the heat off of Maddon. It’s hard to envision the Cubs as sellers, and though that may happen one day, it still seems premature at this point.
- Speaking of trades, the acquisition of Martín Maldonado may allow Maddon to give Willson Contreras a couple of starts in the outfield to keep the backstop a little more rested and productive at the plate.
- Contreras is already eager to return to the team.
- Alec Mills will remain in the rotation for now, Robel García may get a few starts at third base, and the Cubs are going to trust input from Hamels regarding his rehab and timeline to return to the team.
- Javier Báez needs a breakout game. El Mago is in a bit of a slump, but he’s still an All-Star father.
- Adbert Alzolay left yesterday’s start for the Iowa Cubs with an apparent arm injury.
- Former Cubs pitcher Ernie Broglio passed away yesterday at the age of 83. He is best remembered as the other half of the Lou Brock trade with the Cardinals. My old man moaned about that trade every day of his life.
- I don’t know about you, but my life will be infinitely better if I never hear mention of “Mai Tai Guy” again.
- How about a nice hand for the Wrigley Field vendors instead?
Wrigley Field vendors are as iconic as the ivy, marquee and @Cubs themselves. More than serving fans beer, they are a part of the fabric of baseball.
— The Athletic MLB (@TheAthleticMLB) July 16, 2019
How About That!
Entering Wednesday, the Braves hadn’t lost a series of any length since early June, going 9-0-1 over a month of match ups. The Brewers ended that streak yesterday.
Padres starter Chris Paddack took a no-hitter into the 8th inning of yesterday’s game against the Marlins before Starlin Castro went yard to break up the bid. The young hurler was originally a member of the Miami organization before being sent to San Diego in a July 2016 trade for veteran reliever Fernando Rodney.
The Diamondbacks scored 19 runs against the Rangers, setting a franchise record by scoring 12 runs in the first two innings. Texas has now lost four in a row and is starting to look like a team that will sell at the deadline.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Darvish – a statement game for Big Yu, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
- Chris Paddack – The Padres starter almost had his first career no-no. The Cubs will miss Paddack in their weekend series with the Friars. The rookie finished with 8 strikeouts in 7.2 innings, allowing just a single hit and one walk.
- Amed Rosario – The Mets’ shortstop had a 4-for-4 day and scored four runs. He also had a home run and plated three runners.
Despite a red-hot run that has brought the Giants to within three games of a wild card berth, San Francisco GM Farhan Zaidi is not deviating from his plan and intends to be a seller this month.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, there’s a chance Cincinnati would move ace Luis Castillo for the right gaudy package. The Dodgers, Astros, and Yankees would be interested, as they seem to be in on every available pitcher.
The Reds are at a crossroads in their season. Their front office would prefer to be buyers, but they have the second-worst record in the National League. Yesterday’s loss dropped Cincinnati 7.5 games out of first in the NL Central.
The Diamondbacks could move as many as six players in the next two weeks.
Brewers general manager David Stearns would like to make an addition or two. Milwaukee badly needs pitching, both starters and relievers.
These nine players would have the biggest impact on this year’s playoffs if they are moved ahead of this month’s deadline.
On that note, these seven teams should exercise restraint and pass on any potential trades to add to their teams.
No Wagon Wheel covers, please and thank you. I don’t care how many taters you hit.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 18, 2019
They Said It
- “[Darvish] is more of an animal on the mound. The grunting there in the sixth. Reaching back when he needs it. Being smart. He’s got confidence in his fastball. It’s fun to play behind.” – Anthony Rizzo
- “He kind of had no-hit stuff…He still takes some time in between pitches, but how he’s spending that time seems to be better. I don’t think he’s wondering what to do next. I think he’s calculating what to do next. And when he gets back on the rubber, ‘here we go.'” – Joe Maddon
Thursday Walk Up Song
The Four Horsemen by Metallica. Darvish, Jon Lester, José Quintana and Kyle Hendricks have kicked off the second half with strong starts. The Cubs need them to keep the pedal to the metal this weekend against the Padres. By the way, can you guess the theme to this month’s walk up songs?